Desire to help led Shannon to career in extension

Pictures drawn by her children, family photographs and images of pigs surround Marcia Shannon in her small office in the Animal Science Research Center on the east side of the MU campus.

Shannon, the state extension swine nutrition specialist, is a native of small-town Iowa and landed in her role at MU because it fit her life goals.

“I knew I wanted to help people,” Shannon said. “I knew I wanted to be in agriculture because of the people in agriculture, their down-to-earthness and their family values. I think that is why I like working with the farmers.”

Shannon attended Iowa State University majoring in animal science. She then continued on to get her Master’s Degree and Ph.D. to postpone entering the “real world.” While in school, Shannon enjoyed doing research and had a curiosity to solve problems. After multiple interviews and job offers, she chose to make Columbia, Missouri, her permanent home and become a Tiger.

Although Shannon is stationed in ASRC, where multiple animal science classes take place, she doesn’t teach any classes, but fills in on some occasion to teach certain lectures, especially on monogastric nutrition.

Shannon’s teaching primarily takes place outside the classroom when she works with regional extension specialists and Missouri pork producers around the state.

A typical workday is not part of her routine. Her day could consist of conferences, advising appointments, farm visits or phone calls with producers. Shannon’s favorite part of her job is working with the farmers and producers with their animals and helping them improve their operations.

“There probably isn’t a typical workday and that is why I do what I do,” Shannon said.

“Dr. Shannon is a great boss,” said Lena Johnson, an ASRC office support assistant. “She’s easy to talk to (about work, ideas, and personal). When planning conferences/meetings she seeks my input and values my opinions. She is not a micro-manager – she trusts me to do my job, and do it well.”

Her skills in research and adult education make Shannon a highly valued member of the MU animal sciences faculty.

“Dr. Shannon brings a high level of understanding of both research design and the complete animal continuum to a project,” said Carol Lorenzen, fellow coworker and meat science professor.  “In addition she is an expert extension educator.”

Many of Shannon’s favorite memories are from when she first moved to Missouri and was meeting new people and trying new things.

Shannon once attended a conference to give a presentation in the Springfield, Missouri, area at a retirement center. This conference provided a supper as well. The supper’s main dish was ham and beans, cornbread, and onion wedges; Shannon said she had never heard of that dish.

“I am not a Missouri native,” Shannon said. “I had never had ham and beans before. I have learned that it is very popular here in Missouri and it is a cultural thing.”

Sydney Hoffman

About the Author Sydney Hoffman

Hey, my name is Sydney Hoffman, and I am from a small town called Archie, Missouri. My love of agriculture was handed down to me by my dad who grew up on a farm in northern Missouri — unlike my mom, who is a Kansas City native. I am currently a freshman majoring in science and agricultural journalism. As a 10-year member of the Cass County 4-H program and four-year member of the Cass Career Center FFA program, I have gained valuable life lessons including: confidence, public speaking skills, and a respect for hard work. These organizations have allowed me to try new things that allowed me to find a passion in photography. Being able to communicate through pictures is powerful, and I hope I can make a career out of that someday.