MEDIA ADVISORY: UM System Extension and Engagement Week — All Things Youth  

How do we create a society to ensure today’s youth, tomorrow’s leaders, thrive?

Oct. 11, 2023
Contact: Rob Jones, 573-882-3875,


Missouri’s youth are our future. The opportunities they have and challenges they face will shape our communities, our state and the world for decades to come. It’s up to today’s leaders and educators to create the conditions needed for today’s youth to thrive.

Join the University of Missouri during Extension and Engagement Week as we explore how best to equip our youth to become the leaders who will shape the future of agriculture, the economy, education, and health and well-being. Together, we will work to empower this next generation to make a positive mark on our communities, our state and the world.

The full schedule and registration information are available here.


Tuesday, Oct. 24 – Thursday, Oct. 26


Keynote Address: Orion Jean, “What My Generation Needs From You”
Jesse Auditorium, University of Missouri

Wednesday, Oct. 25
Media availability: 11:40 a.m. – noon  
Keynote presentation (livestream available): 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Elementary school student presentation: 2:45 – 3:15 p.m., 205 Townsend Hall

Orion Jean, 2021 TIME Kid of the Year, will discuss what today’s youth need to build a brighter future for all. Drawing from his experiences and insights as a young changemaker, he illuminates the next generation’s challenges. He offers practical insights and actionable steps to support their growth and development.

He highlights the importance of listening to young people, empowering them to become leaders, and providing them with the tools and resources they need to thrive.

Founder of the Race to Kindness program, this young philanthropist inspires and challenges listeners of all ages to make the future better through the consistent power of kindness. This session is a call to action for anyone who wants to positively impact the next generation, whether as a parent, educator, policymaker or community leader. Participants will leave with a deeper understanding of the needs and aspirations of the next generation and practical strategies for supporting their growth and development.

Other featured Extension and Engagement Week sessions:

Tuesday, Oct. 24
1:15 – 2 p.m.: The Center for Evidence-Based Youth Mental Health: Improving Access to Quality Care for Youth
Holiday Inn Expo Center
2200 I-70 Drive, S.W.
Columbia, Missouri

Kristin Hawley, director of the MU Center for Evidence-Based Youth Mental Health, will describe the current youth mental health crisis in the U.S., where more than one in five youth suffers from an impairing mental health concern, and many families are unable to access effective care.

Wednesday, Oct. 25
10 – 11:20 a.m.: All Things Youth: State Agency Perspective
MU Bond Life Sciences Center, Monsanto Auditorium

State agencies and partners can positively impact conditions in which youth struggle to survive. How do we create lifelines of resilience that help them persevere in this journey?  What are the next steps needed to support them in becoming the leaders who best shape the future? During the state agency panel, leaders in education, health and senior services, mental health, higher education and workforce development, social services and agriculture will explore challenges and opportunities for youth and families.

Panel members include:

  • Heidi Miller, chief medical officer, Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS)
  • Lisa Dierking, coordinator of School-Based Mental Health — cyberbullying and youth suicide, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)
  • John Ginwright, deputy director of the Family Support Division – child support, juvenile justice; focus “all families have greatness,” Department of Social Services (DSS),
  • Keith Dietzschold, state director for Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources – Ag Ed/FFA, DESE
  • Sherry Moller, senior program specialist, Children’s Division – foster care, DSS
  • Donna Brake, special projects manager – youth workforce programs, Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development (DHEWD)

Thursday, Oct. 26
8:30 – 9:15 a.m.: College and Career Readiness K–12 Education
Holiday Inn Expo Center

At last summer's Unlocking Pathways Summit in Aurora, Colorado, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona described a “high school of the future” — one that would prepare students for whatever path they choose after graduation. This preparation includes providing personalized career advising, opportunities to earn workforce credentials and licenses, dual enrollment and work-based learning. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Office of College and Career Readiness has several initiatives to support students in their career development. Assistant Commissioner Travis Plume will explain these initiatives, sharing personal stories from his own experiences in public education.

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