Missing persons appear on a daily basis for members of BeUnited M.R.T, a nonprofit organization based in St. Joseph whose mission is to help locate people across the country.
BeUnited started its journey last month with five team members, president and police liaison David Wilson, vice president Teresa Wilson, treasurer and secretary Carrie Windsor, community outreach volunteer Frank Windsor and fundraising coordinator Holly Etchison.
The goal is to get the word out about missing people with the use of flyers, locate them and reunite loved ones.
David Wilson was inspired to start the organization after social media played a key role in helping find his daughter when she was abducted.
“Through social media someone noticed her and she was able to get to a phone and contact us and police, and she was picked up,” Wilson said.
Along with making flyers, the group also helps search for individuals if the family or law enforcement requests public assistance.
“We will not turn anyone away. As long as a police report has been made, we will get a flyer up in five minutes,” Wilson said.
The organization pays close attention to reports made locally, but it has helped with missing cases from several different states.
A woman contacted the group from Tennessee seeking help finding her two grandchildren. Wilson and the group put out a flyer, and it reached someone in California who spotted the two kids.
“A woman was waiting on her food at a restaurant and just happened to be scrolling through Facebook and saw our flyer and contacted police,” Wilson said. “The grandmother contacted us the next day and said the children were in route back to Tennessee.”
The group’s active case load is currently 443 for the entire country. It has 210 Missouri cases but is working on getting more flyers out there. There are 39 active cases in Buchanan County.
Wilson has a police contact in all 50 states to help with any case the group comes across.
“We stand with the families so they don’t have to stand alone,” Wilson said.
Wilson advises all parents to get a child ID kit for each person in their house in the case anyone goes missing. Individuals interested in the kit can contact local law enforcement or www.be-united.org.
“Think about it like this, you’re going to go into Starbucks tomorrow and buy a five dollar cup of coffee, so why not take that five dollars, re-purpose that and provide 15 meals to your community,” says Haynes.
High school agricultural instructors all have the same refrain: it takes a lot of money to become a farmer.
Take Chuck Wilson, for example. The East Buchanan High School teacher said he realizes production agriculture could be the choice for some of his students. But the reality is farming has become a costly occupation for many to break into.
“We’re trying to prepare them for an agricultural career of some type,” Wilson said. “It’s really hard for them to get into that (farming) career without some type of help. It’s still tough.”
The best route into farming, he added, is having an established family connection or to know someone with an inside track. The key challenges are enduring the costs of purchasing land and equipment.
“They’re taking after where grandfather was at or where father was at,” said Wilson of students’ choices to embrace farming.
The growing influence of corporations in the vast world of global agriculture also is serving as a stumbling block for some. He said some students are dividing their time between day jobs and farming at night.
Data collected by the most recent USDA Census shows Missouri’s new and beginning farmers constituted almost 24 percent of all the state’s principal producers, with an average age of 46.5 years old.
Jessica Keefer, an agricultural science instructor at Hillyard Technical Center, said few of her students are yearning to make a career on the back forty. Most in her classes do not hail from a traditional farming background.
“The majority of our students want to go into vet (veterinary medicine),” she said. “The trend with production agriculture has been less and less as students move into our program. We do have a few that will go into ag business. They are more focused on the supporting industries. We have a couple that are farming with their families. ... Almost all of our students who go into production agriculture decide to stick with it. “
Keefer said it can cost someone as much as $10 million to get started in production agriculture. Several students have indicated they intend to eventually go into farming but are retaining some sort of a backup plan.
“It’s very expensive to start a new farm,” she said. “So that deters most of our students.”
Wayne Flanary, an agronomist with University of Missouri Extension in Holt County, said the father-son combinations that remain in farming are key to survival of new farmers, amid the ongoing spate of corporate consolidations. Flanary said retiring farmers are assisting new farmers.
“New farmers need help, as farming is capital intensive,” he added.
Students themselves are cognizant of the hardships that accompany farming. Mason Bragg, president of the St. Joseph Future Farmers of America chapter and senior at Benton High School, echoed the trend away from production agriculture due to the high costs.
“Starting a whole new ag operation is very expensive,” he said. “Whereas going into placement and working for someone else is not as expensive. And you can make good money doing that just as well.”
The USDA defines beginning farms as those on which all operators have no more than a decade of farming experience. The enterprises operate on a small scale, with less income, and have more debt relative to their assets than more established farms.