• Four people and the words, Extension Matters.

Extension Matters: Volume 3 Number 4

A combine and tractor in the center of a corn field

Photo by Jonathan Parrish

During a short break from August rain, Bubba Simmons, a partner in Simmons Planting Company in Hollandale, begins harvesting corn. Altogether, Simmons farms about 6,000 acres of corn, soybeans, and rice in Washington County.

Woman in glasses smiles in front of brick building

Eunice Blake has spent more than 35 years serving Amite County citizens in the tax assessor and collector’s office.

In those years, she’s looked to the Mississippi State University Extension Service for support.

White horse stands beside teen boy with blue dress shirt and black cowboy hat

Noah Carpenter will tell you himself that he wouldn’t have the life skills he has today if not for 4-H.

“My involvement in 4-H has taught me responsibility, teamwork, and leadership skills,” he says. “I’m better at communicating with others because I’ve built self-confidence through showing horses.”

Woman with glasses stands smiling beside a flower arrangement

When Beth and Michael Foose decided to open Little Bluestem Farm in 2016, they knew they needed training to help them manage the business side of the farm.

Beth first attended the Extension-facilitated Women in Agriculture Workshop Annie’s Project, a course that teaches problem-solving, record-keeping, and decision-making skills for agriculture-related businesses. 

Smiling man in gingham dress shirt leans on a tractor

The people who know Virgil Walker look up to him. The Covington County native is a leader for his church and several local organizations. He loves his wife, his children, and his grandchildren, and he values his way of life.

“It’s just in my blood to walk out and see a cow on my farm,” he says on a humid, late-summer afternoon. “It’s five generations, counting my son’s kids. The one who’s 9 or 10, I gave her a calf, and she wants to come every day to look at it. I believe she’ll be the one to come and live on the farm. It would be rewarding for me. Where I’m living, I’ve been here for 50 years.”

A little girl in a white chef’s hat stands beside her mother

For anyone relying on Pinterest, Facebook, or other online recipe sites to plan healthy meals, Marilyn Lunsford is encouraging those home cooks to look in a different, more local place.

Man in green dress shirt sits at a table with a woman in a white dress

Tiara and Jeremy Brown, former 4-H’ers from Clay and Oktibbeha Counties, respectively, discuss how the 4-H youth development program has something for everyone.

Tiara and Jeremy are both from families that were very involved in 4-H. They met while attending Mississippi State University, graduated, and married. Jeremy went on to work as a mechanical engineer at Yokohama Tire Manufacturing in West Point, and Tiara works as a special education teacher at Central School, also in West Point.

Boll weevil sucks green cotton boll

When Mississippi achieved statehood in 1817, its cotton industry was only beginning to take off. By 1917, boll weevils were devastating the state’s cotton crop and its economy.

Two men, one in a yellow polo and the other in blue, stand in front of a portrait of a man

Publicity was not on the mind of Mike Sturdivant III in 1974 when he began farming, so his response to being named the 2017 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Ag Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year for Mississippi was one of surprise.

Five people, three men and two women, stand in front of a Farmers Market Building sign

Ruby D. Rankin spent 33 years leading, serving, and working hand in hand with the people of Kemper County. Her position with the Mississippi State University Extension Service linked her to the community and made her unforgettable to the people who knew her.

a red and blue ribbon from the Neshoba County Fair

When Mississippi’s Giant Houseparty kicked off at the end of July, hundreds of exhibitors displayed thousands of items that showcase their handiwork to the Neshoba County Fair’s many visitors.

The Exhibit Hall, organized and operated by the Neshoba County office of the Mississippi State University Extension Service, annually displays the handiwork of adults and children in several categories, including fresh fruits and vegetables, field crops, food preservation, arts and crafts, posters, and food and nutrition.  

•	A man in overalls stands beside a man in a red T-shirt in front of a tree farm

Dave Stewart may not have followed professionally in the footsteps of his grandfathers, both of whom operated sawmills, but he is building a legacy property that combines timber and wildlife habitat as a tribute to the men who taught him to love the land.

Pavilion surrounded by trees

Arboretum Celebrates 20 Years with MSU Extension • Plant Disease and Nematode Analysis Fee Changes • Improving Mississippi’s Fiscal Health • Know Your Roots to Attract More Customers

Three women and one man hold a large 4-H clover

When she started volunteering with Tate County 4-H almost 15 years ago, Joy Magness didn’t know much about the youth development program delivered by the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

She was home-schooling her two children, Samantha and Eli, and her fellow home-schooling parent and friend Adelia Gaines asked Magness if she’d like her kids to join 4-H and if she’d like to volunteer.

•	(clockwise from top left) Smiling blonde woman; man wearing tan hat; man wearing maroon dress shirt; man wearing grey vest; woman wearing glasses; and woman in front of books

Since joining Mississippi State University as a development officer nearly 2 years ago, alumnus Will Staggers has been hard at work cultivating private support for the MSU Extension Service.




Message from the Director

Dr. Gary

Holiday celebrations are about to begin around our state, and the Extension family continues its mission of extending knowledge and changing lives. We are providing important, research-based educational programs that Mississippi residents are using to make their lives better. This issue recognizes just a few Extension clients whose families are stronger, businesses more profitable, and communities better served.

For nearly 40 years, Kemper County Extension Agent Ruby D. Rankin delivered Extension educational programs and worked with children, homemakers, agricultural producers, and business owners. After her unexpected death in the spring, the local Board of Supervisors voted to name its farmers’ market in her honor. The Ruby D. Rankin Farmers Market Building is a fitting tribute to a woman who served so many people.

One Southeast Mississippi cattle producer explains how his county Extension office offers a range of educational resources, alongside cattle-specific programming, for all members of the community. Owners of a Gulf Coast agribusiness share how Extension’s horticultural training helped them take their business to the next level. And the Amite County tax assessor says she participates in Extension-sponsored professional development programs because they allow her to complete her duties more smoothly and confidently.

The Neshoba County Extension office annually coordinates the Neshoba County Fair’s Exhibit Hall, and this issue chronicles the 2017 exhibits for the State’s Biggest House Party. Mississippi’s 2017 Sunbelt Ag Expo Farmer of the Year, Mike Sturdivant III, explains how Extension assistance has improved operations at his farm, while a Northeast Mississippi landowner explains how Extension instruction has improved his approach to timber production.

The 4-H youth development program continues preparing Mississippi’s young people for productive careers. Former 4-H’ers Jeremy and Tiara Brown share how 4-H leadership prepared them for their current jobs. Tishomingo County 4-H’er Noah Carpenter explains how participating in horse-riding competitions is helping him grow into adulthood. And Tate County volunteer and 4-H mom Joy Magness explains why she shares her time with 4-H’ers.

I am very appreciative of the knowledge, dedication, and caring that Extension employees give for the greater good of Extension’s work. They expand Mississippi State University’s campus to the world, and they provide gardeners, producers, families, communities, and businesses the expertise and infrastructure they need to move forward. 



Gary Jackson
Director, MSU Extension Service