• Four people and the words, Extension Matters.

Extension in Action

Two masked women with glasses and brown hair holding a brown bag.
The Mississippi State University Extension Service organizes Brown Bag giveaways each month in DeSoto County.

Extension Brown Bags flying off shelves in DeSoto County

Story by Leah Barbour • Photos by Kevin Hudson

WHO:

Mississippi State University Extension agents in DeSoto County are partnering with public librarians throughout the county to distribute Extension Brown Bags to members of the community. Extension has offered a range of educational programs at these libraries, so joining with them to expand the giveaways was a natural choice.

  • Families with school-age children
  • Senior citizens
  • Residents needing a secure internet signal

WHAT:

Extension Brown Bags are activity bags packed with learning projects for the young, old, and everybody in between. Plus, you can sign up to get DeSoto County’s Extension newsletter.

Most of the supplies to complete the activities are included in the bags. Here are some examples from past months:

  • Home and lawn gardening info
  • Plants or seeds to be planted
  • Nutritious recipes
  • Spice packs
  • Dinner etiquette info
  • Conversation-starting cards
  • Craft projects and materials
  • Home safety info
  • Cleaning and hygiene info
  • COVID safety info

WHEN:

New Extension Brown Bags with fresh activities and information are available at the beginning of each month.

HOW:

Community support finances the bags. Regular county budgets include support for Extension’s county educational programs. Organizers prioritized using the funds for materials for hands-on activities because the pandemic had postponed and canceled many in-person activities. Extension specialists and faculty also supply materials as needed, along with the local Master Gardener volunteer group and the DeSoto County 4-H Advisory Council. Extension personnel and Master Gardener volunteers pack the bags, and Extension agent Lara Angel delivers them.

DeSoto County residents are welcome to pick up bags at their local library or the Extension office.

WHERE:

MSU Extension Office, DeSoto County

3260 Hwy. 51 South

Hernando, MS 38632

In hall outside main entrance

 

B. J. Chain Public Library 6619 Hwy. 305 North

Olive Branch, MS 38654

Located in center of library

 

Southaven Public Library

8554 Northwest Drive

Southaven, MS 38671

Pick up by front door

 

Hernando Public Library 370 West Commerce

Hernando, MS 38632

In front of checkout desk

 

Horn Lake Public Library 2885 Goodman Road

Horn Lake, MS 38637

In front of circulation desk

 

Walls Public Library

7181 Delta Bluff Parkway

Walls, MS 38680

Pick up behind computer stations

 

“We’ve found a way to reach people not using the traditional methods Extension normally uses. We’ve done a little bit of everything, and we keep expanding our mailing list. New people keep getting the Extension Brown Bag kits and signing up for our newsletter, and we’re making sure they get regular updates from us.”

—Lara Angel, Extension agent in DeSoto County

 

“Every month, there’s a different theme, and it often goes along with the holiday for that month. I’m just amazed that Extension gets something in there for everybody—kids, adults, seniors—and it’s good information. It’s so creative, and it’s just amazing what all is in there. This program is good for the library and good for our patrons.”

—Suzanne Argo, head librarian at B. J. Chain Public Library

 

“It’s all generations coming to get the Extension Brown Bags. We’ve increased participation; we have more contacts than we did before; and we are able to continue delivering our plans of work and provide Extension education. We’re using these to stay engaged, and it’s working.”

—Joy Anderson, Extension agent in DeSoto County

 

“There’s something for everyone in these bags. The patrons are really loving it, whether they have one kid, multiple kids, or none at all. They are looking forward to getting that next bag, and this partnership is strengthening community relations. We are drawing more and more people in.”

—Yalanda Priddy, assistant branch manager at Walls Public Library

 

 

 

 

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