by Andrea Brassfield
This time last year, Chris Kempke made the transition from college graduate to full-time employee when he was hired by the Missouri Extension Office in Scotland County to serve as Program Director for Scotland County and Community Development Specialist for Scotland County, Schuyler, Adair, Knox, Clark and Lewis Counties. Chris started his new position on June 1, 2015 and now, a full year later, is excited by his acceptance into the community and the way his job has evolved, the expansion of existing programs and the development of new projects.
Always friendly and ready to help, Chris has had no problems fitting in and being accepted here in Memphis. He humbly remarks that many of his activities are just “part of the job” but his volunteerism and willingness to serve go above and beyond and have made him a real asset to many local groups and organizations.
In the past year, Chris has volunteered in booths at the Antique Fair, singing with the Community Players, United Methodist Church Bell Choir, playing Taps for funerals and at the Memorial Day Service, Memphis Chamber activities, Scotland County Fair, Rotary presentations and the newly established School Foundation. He is also actively involved with the Presbyterian Church.
Professionally, Chris has been involved with multi-site programs including Public Board Training that covered Sunshine Law, university resources for public boards, fiscal responsibilities and public board best practices; Your Farm, Your Business, Your Future where he introduced new curriculum including Family Communication and Estate, Succession and Retirement Planning.
Locally, Chris has helped the Scotland County School Foundation by guiding them through how a foundation works, selecting board members, writing bylaws and strategic planning. This foundation has already raised over $1000.00 in its short existence.
Additionally, Chris is working with the Tiger Trail Committee by providing contacts and information on funding opportunities and best trail practices, introducing new volunteers to the group and helping plan trail events such as the Easter Egg Hunt.
Another local project Chris is helping with includes the Rutledge School National Designation Project where he connected members of the Rutledge School Preservation Group to Truman State University students to assist them to put the School House on the National Historic Registry. He has also educated students, faculty and group members on the National Historic Registry process.
Finally, on the local level, Chris has also assisted the Scotland County Food Pantry Program by working to distribute recipes that are relevant to the commodities being delivered to the 200 families served by the food pantry. He also created a volunteer position to assist in the recipe selection.
Chris also worked with students from the University of Missouri’s Alternative Breaks program. Two groups, with nine and twelve kids respectively, came to Scotland County to do service work. Between the two groups, seven projects were completed with approximately 108 hours of volunteer time being spent in the county.
At the state level, Chris has been involved with the Rivers Confluence SET Project, a USDA supported economic development project involving Hancock, Lee and Clark counties. Over 40 community leaders have been involved in this process from Missouri, Illinois and Iowa where they create an economic development plan that is region specific and is aided by USDA money.
Looking ahead, Chris would like to continue focusing on building capacity with nonprofits and other community events, bringing additional economic development programs into the region, becoming a resource for local governments, becoming more active in outlying counties, expanding the curriculum in the Community Development program, helping to mobilize community members to address problems in their communities and therefore making them more sustainable.
Chris’ office is located in Room 105 of the Scotland County Court house. He can be reached at 660-465-7256.