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Missouri Ag News Headlines
Developing Local Leaders and Volunteers
Missouri Ag Connection - 11/10/2017

The new EXCCEL leadership program offered by University of Missouri Extension and the Greene County Commonwealth is underway, and the third team meeting was held in Willard at the Willard Branch Library.

Ten team members traveled to Ash Grove and learned more about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for that community.

Special guests included Brad Gray, city administrator; Kendal Cook, past president of the Chamber of Commerce and local banker; Whitney Burrell, communications director for the Willard School District; Samuel Snider, Willard city council member; and Jennifer Lankford, owner of Pillbox Pharmacy.

Some of the ideas discussed with the group included infrastructure hurdles in the community; making the school, city and fire district "one Willard;" maintaining district growth of about four percent a year; and why there are restrictions on building in the fly zone around the airport.

"The group came away with agreement that infrastructure challenges for Willard, especially regarding the need for a sewer connection for the Meadows and Villa Park area, are holding back growth and development," said David Burton, county program director for Greene County MU Extension. "But there is also an energy to move forward and using existing resources and partnerships to develop a plan and vision for the community."

Community leaders are especially excited about the Frisco Trail stops in down, the veterans day parade planned in Willard and a national bike ride that will be stopping in Willard next summer.

Members of the EXCCEL team will contribute editorials in the Greene County Commonwealth focused on community needs and issues to get a local conversation started. As a community service, the Greene County Commonwealth is providing space for the editorials.

The first group column appeared in the Greene County Commonwealth on Sept. 27 with editorials about Ash Grove on Oct. 18 and Oct. 25.

The best way to read the columns is to purchase the newspaper locally or subscribe to it. Eventually, the editorials will also appear on the EXCCEL webpage at

Online comments about the editorials (when they are posted) along with letters to the editor are encouraged to foster community dialogue and conversation.

EXCCEL provides an excellent opportunity for individuals living in western Greene County to build their resume, expand their network, and improve leadership skills will also working with others to improve Ash Grove, Republic, Willard and rural areas of Greene County.

"The program is modeled after MU Extension's statewide Excel program with some unique changes that make it a fit for this area," said Burton. "Our focus will be on developing community leaders, better understanding community issues in western Greene County and working together toward possible solutions."

EXCCEL graduates use insights and skills learned to engage in building community networks, make well-informed community decisions and find real solutions to real problems.

The entire class also serves as an editorial board for the Greene County Commonwealth and teams will write editorials to help foster community conversations on key issues.

University of Missouri Extension in Greene County will be taking the lead in partnership with the Greene County Commonwealth, Republic Chamber of Commerce, Greene County Commission and other community leaders.

For more information, contact David Burton in Greene County at (417) 881-8909 or by email at

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