• Four people and the words, Extension Matters.

Doing the “Heart” Work

A blonde woman in a white shirt and ponytail stands in front of a wooden wall and holds a brown, black, and white baby goat.
Deidra Rollins volunteers with 4-H, the youth development program delivered by the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

 4-H volunteer teaches life skills

Story by Keri Collins Lewis • Photos by Kevin Hudson

After working all day, Deidra Rollins knew the last thing she wanted to do was spend every evening and weekend at the ball field. But she wanted something she and her daughter, Tory, could do together. So she stopped by the local Mississippi State University Extension Service office.

“I met a lady who had been raising goats and helping kids for 20 years, and she smooth-talked me!” Rollins recalls.

That meeting changed the next decade of Deidra’s life, because she became a 4-H mom and volunteer.

A woman with a white shirt, black pants, and brown shoes sits on a brown, metal bench inside a barn. On the right, there are two dogs. A light dog with black and brown spots sits next to the woman, white a white dog stands next to the dog sitting down. Behind the woman is a white and brown goat.
Deidra Collins and her dogs visit a goat in a barn.

“Once I got into dairy goats, I saw so many kids who wanted to be involved in 4-H, but their situations were tough,” she says. “Sometimes you have single parents who have to work or grandparents raising kids, and you’ve got to do what you can do to help. All they need is a little extra time or somebody in their lives to help them make it happen.”

Deidra says being a 4-H volunteer is the perfect fit for her.

“I have one daughter and about 10 4-H kids,” she jokes. “To be able to do this, to see these kids grow and improve and become young adults—it’s amazing to see it all fall into place. Volunteering has been a blessing.”

Deidra believes firmly in hard work and responsibility, both of which 4-H’ers learn through caring for and showing livestock.

“I tell them, ‘You get out of it what you put into it,’ and, ‘Attitude is everything,’ because they have to want to succeed,” she explains. “It’s my job, as a human being, to teach these kids and get them led out in the right direction. You can’t go wrong when you’re teaching them what life is all about.”

Deidra’s experiences as a 4-H volunteer in livestock and shooting sports, and as a parent of an active 4-H’er, have turned her into an advocate for Extension.

“I tell people all the time, if there is anything you want to do, go to your Extension office,” she asserts. “They tell me they don’t want to do goats, and I tell them it’s so much more than goats! I could try to name everything they offer—bugs, forestry, barbecue, archery, safety, riding bikes—there are so many things for kids to do.

“Extension’s goal is to lead you in whatever direction you want to go. They will help you dabble in whatever you want to try,” she confirms. “Extension people are my go-to people.”

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