AgEBB-MU CAFNR Extension

David Burton
Civic Communications Specialist
2400 S. Scenic Ave.
Springfield, MO 65807

September 27, 2017

Developing Local Leaders and Volunteers ...
EXCCEL Team Meets in Ash Grove and Gathers Input

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The new EXCCEL leadership program offered by University of Missouri Extension and the Greene County Commonwealth is underway and the second team meeting was held in Ash Grove on Sept. 28 at the Ash Grove Branch Library.

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

Special guests included Joyce Brooks and Deanna Monnig from the Ash Grove Food Pantry, Dr. Aaron Gerla, the Superintendent at Ash Grove, Mary Ann Dixon, Ash Grove Senior Center and Ramona Burton, local historian and retired librarian.

Some of the key ideas generated by the group included the need for a volunteer development recruitment, changes to local zoning to allow for building and expansion, expanded city and school communication, attracting youth back to Ash Grove, growing population growth and better code enforcement.

"The top three ideas were changes to zoning laws, population growth and improved city and school communication," said Burton. "These are areas that some team members may choose to work on but they are also areas that MU Extension may be able to offer programs on."


Members of the EXCCEL team will contribute editorials in the Greene County Commonwealth focused on community needs and issues in an effort to get a local conversation started.

As a community service, the Commonwealth is providing space for the group.

The first group column appeared in the Greene County Commonwealth on Sept. 27 with one scheduled for each month until April.

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 in order 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 David Burton, civic communication specialist with MU Extension. "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



Photos outlining input as well as interaction at this event can be found online at

Source: David Burton, (417) 881-8909, (417) 874-2954

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