HERMANN — As difficult as it was to craft a 2020 operating budget for the various Gasconade County government departments, all of which were sent back to the drawing board to find more cuts to …
HERMANN — As difficult as it was to craft a 2020 operating budget for the various Gasconade County government departments, all of which were sent back to the drawing board to find more cuts to ensure a positive bottom-line year-end number in the General Revenue Fund, the County Commission was quick to agree to the initial funding request from the local University of Missouri Extension office.
Part of that is because the Extension’s budget request — only $57,000 — was minimal compared to the other requests. Extension’s 2020 request is less than 1 percent more than the 2019 funding appropriated by county government.
But another part is the support the Extension office enjoys from the County Commission, which pointed to the services provided to Gasconade County residents ranging from the oversight of 4-H clubs to the expert advice and programs provided to farmers to a new program designed to help children cope with the breakup of their parents.
The various services offered through Extension are outlined in the local agency’s 2020 annual report delivered recently to the County Commission by Extension County Engagement Specialist Lydia Nipper.
Nearly 200 youths participate in the programs sponsored by the nine 4-H clubs throughout Gasconade County. Young people learn life skills such as decision making, public speaking and working with others. Club members take part in community service projects, camping outings and educational trips. One of the more popular events organized by the Extension office’s 4-H staff is the annual County Government Day, which gives government students from Gasconade County R-1 and R-2 high schools an up-close look at county government. Last year, the event drew about 120 students from the two schools.
The highlight of the nearly day-long event was the opportunity for the students to sit in on a session of Division 4 Associate Circuit Court and watch Judge Ada Brehe-Krueger preside over a weekly docket of cases. Afterwards, the students assembled in small groups to visit the various county government offices.
Students also were on hand for the county employees’ service awards ceremony. The 4-H staff treated the students to a picnic-style lunch that was prepared by the County Commission and the county treasurer.
The annual report notes that in 2019 there were 86 youth and adult volunteers working with the 4-H members, each contributing an average of 100 hours per year. With their time valued at $25.43 an hour, the volunteers’ contribution amounted to more than $218,000 for the year.
On the agriculture front, Extension staff provides services ranging from 4-H livestock judging contests to livestock services and education for local cattle farmers. Extension also sponsors educational programs such as the Mid-Missouri Grazing Conference for farmers in Gasconade and 16 other counties in the region. Gasconade County farmers through the Extension office submitted 59 of the 12,067 samples submitted to the Missouri University Soil Lab Testing Services, the report said.
Focus on Kids is a program coordinated by Extension Field Specialist in Human Development Dave Hileman and provides divorcing and separated parents with information to make divorce successful for the children. The program aims to help parents learn co-parenting skills and understand how to help the children cope with the big change in their lives.
The Circuit Court contracts with Extension to provide the program for divorcing or separating parents with children 18 and younger, never married parents involving custody of a minor-age child and divorced parents seek a motion to modify a parenting plan.
In 2019, 28 parents affecting more than 29 children 18 and younger successfully completed the Focus on Kids program in Gasconade County, the report said.
The report cites evaluation data that shows parents indicating the program helped them better understand the affect divorce had on their children and the benefits that could be realized if the two parents cooperated in co-parenting after the divorce.
Said one of the parents who took part in Focus on Kids: “The program helped me understand the way children think and feel during divorce. I really enjoyed and needed this class. I am grateful for the opportunity to be here and learn so much to help me and my kids through this.”