Souders, Layton excited to work at MU Extension

By Neal A. Johnson, UD Editor
Posted 4/13/22

MU Extension Youth Program Associate Dakota Souders and Administrative Assistant/Bookkeeper Becky Layton are pleased to be working with the agency in Linn.

Souders, a Rosebud native, said that …

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Souders, Layton excited to work at MU Extension

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MU Extension Youth Program Associate Dakota Souders and Administrative Assistant/Bookkeeper Becky Layton are pleased to be working with the agency in Linn.

Souders, a Rosebud native, said that while she has experience with the YMCA’s youth enrichment program, the programs offered by Extension are new to her, though the philosophy remains the same.

“It’s a little different than after-school care,” said Souders. “There’s something for everyone, from arts and crafts to farming, even for kids who don’t live on a farm or have access to livestock. There are a lot of program resources available here.”

Having grown up on a farm, Souders was a member of 4-H and later, FFA, and wants to help youths experience the same fulfillment.

“I grew up with it,” she said. “We raised Hereford cattle and I had horses, and it was a great experience and I want to share that with the youth of this county.”

After graduating from Owensville High School, Souders went to college for two years in Oklahoma on a judging scholarship. She earned her Associate’s Degree and then returned to attend the University of Missouri in Columbia, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in animal science.

“I stayed at MU for a while working different jobs,” said Souders, who left the university to work for Purina Farms in Gray’s Summit. “That wasn’t for me though.”

Souders considered teaching so she returned to school to pursue her Master’s Degree but after working with kids at the YMCA, she decided that was the niche for which she had been seeking.

When the YPA position opened up, she jumped at the chance. “I’m very happy I went with this job,” Souders said. “I plan to stick around for quite a while.”

Souders is currently taking a break from school but plans to return in the fall to continue her Master’s program.

Layton is likewise a local girl, having grown up in Linn. She previously worked for Extension and was pleased to have the opportunity to return to her roots.

“My kids were in 4-H a long time ago and I value the program,” said Layton, who with her husband of 26 years, Chris, has four children and five grandchildren. “A lot of people don’t know about all the programs that Extension has to offer, and I’m still learning all of them, but I’m happy to talk about what we have.”

Layton worked for 10 years at the Osage County Library and spent three years working at Jim Butler, both in Linn.

She will handle bookkeeping duties along with general office needs, and may conduct soil tests.

“I’m excited to be here,” Layton said.

County Engagement Specialist Elizabeth Anderson said she is happy to have Souders and Layton on staff.

“Our former employees were great assets and I’m excited they were able to go on to new positions,” said Anderson. “I’m happy to have Dakota and Becky here because they bring a lot to the office. They are sharp and passionate about what they do. They will be a good resource to MU Extension and Osage County as a whole.”

For more information about programs and resources, visit https://extension.missouri.edu/counties/osage.

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