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Educational attainment

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Missouri Summer Fire School prepares first responders for disasters


Missouri Summer Fire School includes many hands-on training exercises to prepare first responders for a variety of rescue scenarios that might take place in the aftermath of a fire, accident or natural disaster.

Last year, tornadoes wreaked havoc on communities throughout the Midwest, stretching emergency services thin. Each year, the Missouri Summer Fire School helps first responders prepare for the many challenges they might face in the aftermath of natural disasters and other emergencies.

In June 2013, more than 500 firefighters and first responders from 17 states attended the 81st Summer Fire School, organized by MU Extension Fire and Rescue Training Institute (MU FRTI) and held on the campus of Lincoln University in Jefferson City.

Kevin Zumwalt, associate director of MU FRTI, says the school concentrates on hands-on, practical skills, covering topics that extend beyond putting out fires, including technical rescue, hazardous materials, command and control of emergency operations, and house-to-house and wide-area searches. When a widespread disaster strikes, responders may have to draw on a number of different skills, Zumwalt says.

“How we extricate people from automobiles and school buses is going to relate to a disaster situation such as a tornado,” he says. “Even the trench rescue class provides fundamental skills applicable to getting someone out of a collapsed structure.”

Teamwork is vital for effective response to a large-scale emergency, Zumwalt says. Many types of first responders have to work together, including fire service, law enforcement  and emergency management personnel.

“We really emphasize safety in disaster situations,” says Ken Vomund, fire school instructor and assistant chief of the O’Fallon Fire Protection District. “You don’t go in a house by yourself to search something. We work together as a team and we leave together as a team.”

The school draws everyone from rookies to seasoned veterans with decades of experience. “You get them all in class together and there is no age difference when it really comes down to it,” Zumwalt says. “The new guys are learning from the old guys, the old guys are learning from the new guys, and it’s a good mix.”

MU began conducting training sessions for Missouri fire departments in the 1930s. Today, MU FRTI provides emergency response training on a wide range of subjects, including emergency medical care, industrial safety and counterterrorism.

“There’s always new stuff to be learned,” Zumwalt says. “Whether you’re a one-year firefighter or a 40-year firefighter, you can always learn something new.”

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The Missouri Training Institute in MU’s Trulaske College of Business provides continuing education, custom-designed training programs and business consulting services for business and industry, public and nonprofit organizations and educational institutions.

In 2013, 12,937 people from all 114 Missouri counties enrolled in the institute’s 518 programs.

The institute provided training, consulting and coaching services for a variety of organizations that include:

  • ACT Inc.
  • ABC Labs
  • Alliance Water Services
  • Ameren UE
  • Gates Rubber
  • Missouri Employers Mutual
  • Boone Hospital
  • Missouri Ethics Commission
  • Missouri Department of Natural Resources
  • Missouri Workforce Development Association

ASPCA’s $50,000 grant provides scholarships to animal cruelty investigation program

A $50,000 grant from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is providing scholarship opportunities for students studying animal cruelty investigation at MU Extension’s Law Enforcement Training Institute (LETI).

LETI’s National Animal Cruelty Investigations School licenses students as Certified Humane Investigators and is open to employees of agencies associated with animal welfare, including law enforcement officers, shelter professionals and veterinarians.

“The ASPCA’s grant allows jurisdictions to receive partial scholarships for their employees to attend our training and thus provide greater expertise in their animal neglect and abuse investigations,” said John Worden, LETI director.

The ASPCA grant has enabled LETI to offer almost 170 partial scholarships, giving employees of agencies and organizations with limited budgets the opportunity to learn the skills required to investigate animal cruelty cases in their communities, including animal fighting, puppy mill and animal hoarding cases.

Many alumni of the program have become leaders in the field of anti-cruelty investigations. These alumni have played leading roles in many large-scale animal cruelty investigations, including the largest dog fighting seizure in U.S. history.

Classes are held at MU as well as in cities in 13 states, including Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Over a four-week period, students learn all aspects of animal cruelty investigations from a nationally recognized faculty of law enforcement personnel, veterinarians, animal control officers and other animal welfare professionals. Program topics include evidence collection, exotic animal handling, animal law, interpreting animal behavior and criminal questioning techniques.


More than 90 percent of participants in Homebuyer Education courses secured funding to buy a home. Participants received reduced interest rates, saving them thousands of dollars each over the course of the loan. Research shows that people who attend these courses before buying a home are less likely to default on their loans.


The Missouri Taxpayer Initiative helps low-income Missourians with free tax preparation. Tax specialists helped 4,583 participants prepare their federal tax returns in 2013, resulting in $5,229,730 in refunds.

ExCEEDing expectations

FY 2013 was a pivotal year for MU Extension’s ExCEED program. Many of the long-term partner communities and regions have reached maturity and are realizing their goals.

  • Brookfield has created loft apartment space downtown and has opened a One Stop Center to support entrepreneurship and business development.
  • The Old Trails Regional Partnership and the Mississippi River Hills Association reached major milestones that included functional organizations, increased recognition as regions, successful leveraging of resources, and increased economic returns.
  • In partnership with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, ExCEED facilitated community and economic exploration and planning with the city of Sarcoxie and Shannon County.