What’s New in Extension

Two groups of people stand next to each other, smiling.
Extension established a Monarch Waystation at Poplarville City Park. In the group on the left (from left) are Alex Shook, Justin Majors, Callie McMichael, Ann Smith, April Grecho, and Phyllis Goodwin, and in the group on the right (from left) are Roxann Gort, Rose Arenas, Lee Shurley, Calla Shurley, Avery Grecho, and Jennifer Arenas.

4-H educational garden, butterfly waystation open in Poplarville City Park

Compiled by Leah Barbour • Photo by Kevin Hudson

The Pearl River County 4-H Junior Master Gardeners have made some special additions to Poplarville City Park. A new pollinator garden planted in raised beds features a wildflower area, a native plant area, and an herb area. The garden area has been nationally registered as a Monarch Waystation.

The Junior Master Gardeners are guided by Roxann Gort and Phyllis Goodwin, Pearl River County Master Gardeners and 4-H volunteers. Local county Extension agents Alex Shook and Dr. Eddie M. L. Smith assisted in bringing the new garden to life.

The Mississippi State University Extension Service oversees both the 4-H youth development program and the Master Gardener volunteer program. This project was supported by the members of Coast Electric through Operation Round Up and their Community Trust, in partnership with the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, to award a $10,000 Community Trust Grant.

Local leaders and supporters attended the ribbon cutting in May, including Poplarville Mayor Louise Smith, Gort Farm Garden sponsor Roxann Gort, digital artist Nikki Main, and State Sen. Angela Hill.

The 4-H Junior Master Gardeners program, delivered by Extension, is just one of the many programs Extension provides for youth learning to garden.


Two women stand behind a table with a cloth that reads “Protect & Connect.”
Drs. Lori Elmore-Staton and Alisha Hardman

Extension educators develop “protect and connect” parenting toolkits

Story by Dr. Lori Elmore-Staton and Dr. Alisha Hardman • Photo by Kevin Hudson

Two associate professors in the Mississippi State University School of Human Sciences were recently awarded $655,338 to fund a new parent-education initiative. Drs. Lori Elmore-Staton and Alisha Hardman are developing “Protect and Connect” for MSU Extension’s Trauma-Informed Parenting and Professional Strategies (TIPPS) program.

“Protect and Connect” is a novel capacity-building program focused on creating nurturing, safe, and stable relationships and environments for children. To reach families across Mississippi, the program uses a subscription-box model, including parenting toolkits, coupled with traditional Extension outreach efforts, such as parenting workshops and technical assistance. The parenting toolkits contain educational and developmentally appropriate materials aimed at promoting child development and family connectedness.

Since 2020, TIPPS has received more than $1.6 million from the Mississippi Department of Human Services. Visit TIPPs online to learn more about its resources for parents.


Harvey Gordon, 4-H Hall of Fame 2022

Mississippi 4-H celebrates new inductee to national 4-H hall of fame

Written by Leah Barbour • File photo

The late Harvey Gordon spent 38 years serving the Extension Service, both in Mississippi, where he spent the final 17 years of his career, and in Arkansas, where he spent 21 years. When the National 4-H Hall of Fame ceremony is held in October, Mississippi 4-H leaders will celebrate Gordon’s being added to the esteemed list of state residents who have made a significant impact on the youth development program.

Gordon is the seventh Mississippian ever selected for the honor, and his legacy of influence among young people lives on. Gordon was a premier leader in 4-H and a warm and welcoming friend to all, and he served on various 4-H committees on the local, state, and national levels.

He is survived by his wife, Ruby Taylor Gordon, and sons, Harvey Gordon Jr., Christopher Gordon, and Justin Gordon. Read the full press release celebrating Gordon’s induction into the 4-H Hall of Fame.


A group of high school students poses for a photo around a bulldog statue in front of the Mississippi State University football stadium.
High school members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians visited Mississippi State University on Choctaw Preview Day.

MSU Choctaw Preview Day welcomes prospective students

By Bonnie Coblentz • Photo by Michaela Parker

Fourteen Choctaw Central and Neshoba Central High School students got a look at college life when a 4-H career-prep program brought them to Choctaw Preview Day at Mississippi State University in April. The young people met with MSU students who are also members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. They learned about the admissions process and what their academic experiences will be like.

The students were hosted by the MSU Extension Service, which is coordinating the 10-week Build Your Future program. The program is part of the strengthened partnership between the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and MSU, funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant with an MSU and MSU Extension Service match.

Read Extension’s press release about the visit.


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