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News Filed Under Women for Agriculture

Dressed in a pink T-shirt and blue jeans, broiler grower Teresa Dyess stands next to two wagon wheels in front of a barn on her family farm.
October 20, 2017 - Filed Under: Women for Agriculture, Poultry

In three days, Teresa Dyess shifted her business focus from produce to poultry.

The change began two years ago with an offhand remark from her husband, Joe Dyess.

 “He told a broiler grower in Wayne County we wouldn’t mind building pullet houses because we wanted to diversify our farm,” she said. “We didn’t think any more about it, and then the next day a poultry processor called and offered us a contract. A banker came the next day, and everything fell into place.”

Lanette Crocker, coordinator for the MSU Extension Service in Wayne County, said Teresa Dyess’ adaptability has helped her maintain success through the farm’s transition.

Woman pictured with arms resting on boxes labeled “Mississippi Sweet Potatoes.”
September 29, 2017 - Filed Under: Women for Agriculture

Wouldn’t it be nice if entering a Mississippi State University classroom solved every midlife crisis?

At age 52, Sylvia Clark found herself at a crossroad as she reflected on her life as a small business owner and caregiver for her family. Reared on a Webster County farm, Clark married shortly after earning an associate’s degree and settled into her role as the wife of a Vardaman sweet potato farmer. Eventually, their children were grown and their parents no longer needed her care. With the support of her family, Clark enrolled at MSU in 2006 to finish her formal education in agriculture and extension education.

Terri Doyle grows sunflowers at Coastal Ridge Farm on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and sells them to wholesale distributors and at farmers markets. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)
August 10, 2017 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Commercial Horticulture, Farming, Agri-business, Women for Agriculture

PICAYUNE, Miss. -- What was once a Grade A dairy farm for more than 20 years now serves as the flower farm owned by Terri Doyle and her husband, Dave.

Located on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Coastal Ridge Farm offers fresh bouquets that can be found at Rouse's Markets in the New Orleans area and on the coast from May to November.

"The dairy industry had been getting tougher every year for small dairies," Terri Doyle explained. "When Hurricane Katrina hit and destroyed a lot of our property, Dave and I decided it was time to close the dairy."

Christine Coker, a horticulture specialist with Mississippi State University, began sowing the seeds for her career in elementary school as a 4-H member. Now, she helps put food on Mississippians’ tables with her research and Extension projects.
July 5, 2017 - Filed Under: Commercial Horticulture, Women for Agriculture, Food, Flower Gardens, Vegetable Gardens

BEAUMONT, Miss. -- For 16 years, Christine Coker has been doing what she loves: putting food on people's tables.

"In college, I really liked the study of plants, but I knew I wasn't going to be the world's greatest botanist," she said. "What I really wanted to do was feed people."

Amanda Stone, dairy specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, studies the herd at the MSU Bearden Dairy Unit and brings the latest research-based information to the state’s dairy producers. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)
June 19, 2017 - Filed Under: Women for Agriculture, Dairy

By Jessica Smith
MSU Extension Service

Providing expertise and knowledge to Mississippi dairy producers was not always a career goal for dairy specialist Amanda Stone.

Stone has been an assistant professor since August 2016 with the Mississippi State University Extension Service in the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, where she works directly with students, dairy producers and MSU Extension agents.

Lida McDowell holds an alternanthera plant at her home in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on April 27, 2017. McDowell is a member of the Pine Belt Master Gardeners -- one of more than 60 such groups throughout the state that operate under the supervision of the Mississippi State University Extension Service. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)
May 4, 2017 - Filed Under: Women for Agriculture, Master Gardener

HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- Lida McDowell taught science and math for 30 years at the high school and university levels, and she keeps finding ways to educate while enjoying an interest she had no time to pursue until retirement.

The raised-bed vegetable gardens she and church friend Karen Walker maintain year-round serve as a classroom for a young audience at Thames Elementary School in Hattiesburg.

“What we’re trying to do is get the kids to enjoy nature, be outside and appreciate where their food comes from,” McDowell said.

Although Natasha Haynes has never lived or worked on a farm, her professional career has circled around agriculture. She is an Extension agent in Hinds County and host of “The Food Factor,” the weekly video feature produced by the Mississippi State University Extension Service. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Jonathan Parrish)
April 5, 2017 - Filed Under: Women for Agriculture

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Natasha Haynes has never lived or worked on a farm, but her professional career with the Mississippi State University Extension Service circles around agriculture just the same.

Haynes is an Extension agent in Hinds County and host of "The Food Factor," the weekly video feature produced by the MSU Extension Service. She grew up in Jackson and earned a bachelor's degree in family and consumer sciences from Alcorn State University.

The glass ceiling Ann Fulcher Ruscoe shattered in 1996 was outside in the Mississippi Delta’s wide expanse of agricultural fields. In fall 2000, she worked with cotton grower Kenneth Hood of Gunnison. (File photo from the MSU Alumnus Magazine)
April 4, 2017 - Filed Under: 4-H, About Extension, Women for Agriculture

CLARKSDALE, Miss. -- Almost 200 years after Mississippi became a state, residents may find it difficult to imagine a time when women could not be Extension agricultural agents. That time was right up until the late 1990s when Ann Fulcher Ruscoe became the "county agent" for Coahoma County.

"Most entry level jobs for the Extension Service involved 4-H responsibilities. That's how I started in 1980 in Bolivar County," Ruscoe said. "Eventually, 4-H agents would usually become home economists if they were women or county agents if they were men."

Mary Beck heads the Mississippi State University Department of Poultry Science, a field often dominated by men. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)
February 28, 2017 - Filed Under: Women for Agriculture

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- When poultry science began receiving academic attention, women were the first poultry husbandry faculty. They were housed in the home economics departments of land-grant universities, a carryover from the days when women kept chickens at home for eggs and meat.

Eventually, universities created poultry science departments, populated mostly by men.

Today, Mary Beck, head of the Department of Poultry Science at Mississippi State University since 2012, makes her mark in a field dominated by men.

Ali Fratesi Pinion raises pigs as a healthy source of local meat and manages them to benefit the soil on her Clay County farm. (MSU Extension Service file photo/Kevin Hudson)
February 2, 2017 - Filed Under: Women for Agriculture, Food and Health, Environment

CEDAR BLUFF, Miss. -- Ali Fratesi Pinion may be part of the millennial generation, but she farms more like her great-grandparents.

Pinion and her husband, Dustin, operate Beaverdam Farms in Clay County on the principle that healthy soils create better foods and communities. The Pinions have modeled their farm after a successful project in Virginia that emphasizes building up the soil, capturing carbons and feeding local communities.

Jessica Smith of Picayune is a Mississippi State University senior who majored in agricultural communications because of her interest in connecting consumers and farmers. (Photo by MSU Extension/Kevin Hudson)
December 14, 2016 - Filed Under: 4-H, Women for Agriculture

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Many people in the agricultural world complain that consumers do not understand what farmers do, but few of them are willing to dedicate their careers to a solution.

Jessica Smith, a senior at Mississippi State University, grew up on a farm in south Mississippi and is majoring in agricultural communications because she sees education as a key element in changing how her peers perceive something as basic as where their food comes from.

Dawn Morgan manages more than 20 hives at FloBaby Farms and sells raw honey, comb honey and beeswax from her home in Starkville, Mississippi on Nov. 22, 2016. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)
November 22, 2016 - Filed Under: Women for Agriculture, Beekeeping

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Dawn Morgan's father was an organic gardener before organic was cool, but for years she preferred a more manicured yard and the practices that entailed.

Then she began reading about the decline of bee colonies and remembered her dad's orchard and garden buzzing with pollinators.

"Dad kept bees but in a very primitive way," she said. "No bee suit, no smoker, never used herbicides or pesticides. He did everything naturally."

Jasper County 4-H member Lacie Winn finished her 4-H livestock project career at the Mississippi State Fair in Jackson, Mississippi. Winn placed with Drake, her European crossbred steer, in the competition on Oct. 8, 2016. (Submitted photo)
October 28, 2016 - Filed Under: 4-H Livestock Program, Youth Livestock, Women for Agriculture

By Jessica Smith
MSU Extension Service

LOUIN, Miss. -- For one Jasper County 4-H member, a junior livestock show career has come full circle.

Lacie Winn, 18, has competed in 4-H livestock shows across the state since 2006. The youth development program is managed by the Mississippi State University Extension Service and open to youngsters from 5-18 years of age.

Marjan de Regt, right, a Washington County row crop farmer from the Netherlands, visits her son, Skyler, an agribusiness major at Mississippi State University. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kat Lawrence)
October 11, 2016 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Women for Agriculture, Community

HOLLANDALE, Miss. -- Marjan de Regt and her husband, Jan, planned to spend three years farming in the Mississippi Delta before returning to their native Netherlands.

That was 29 years ago, and the family still calls Hollandale home.

The de Regts farmed 2,600 acres of soybeans, 500 acres of rice and 200 acres of corn in 2016. This year was only the third time they tried corn.

The best way to get Jan Cook Houston off her tractor may be to start taking pictures of small or scuffed sweet potatoes destined for processing instead of the large, blemish-free No. 1 grade sweet potatoes. This photo was taken Sept. 20, 2016, in a Vardaman, Mississippi field. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Linda Breazeale)
September 29, 2016 - Filed Under: Women for Agriculture

VARDAMAN, Miss. -- After 30 years behind a desk, Jan Cook Houston has returned to her first love and her second career, this time seated on a tractor pulling a sweet potato digger.

“Growing up here, I never thought farming was an option for a woman,” Houston said. “Dad didn’t expect me to farm, but he knew I could.”

Houston returned to her roots in 2009, a year that lives in infamy for growers in the heart of Mississippi’s sweet potato country.

Fran Pittman and her family operate Pittman Farms in Webster, Calhoun and Montgomery counties. The operation includes 325 acres in northwest Webster County that have never been owned by anyone but a Pittman. (Photo by Kevin Hudson/MSU Extension Service)
August 31, 2016 - Filed Under: Women for Agriculture

CADARETTA, Miss. -- A 325-acre farm in northwest Webster County has never been owned by anyone but a Pittman.

Fran Pittman has designs on keeping it that way.

She and her husband, Alfred Pittman, have operated Pittman Farms -- part of which includes the land they refer to as “The Old Home Place” -- since they married in 1974.

Mindy Rutherford and her family added a dairy to their Rolling Fork, Mississippi, farm this year. Milk produced by the farm’s small dairy is processed on site. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)
July 11, 2016 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Women for Agriculture

ROLLING FORK, Miss. -- Mindy Rutherford devotes her days to the family’s expanding Rolling Fork farm.

A former teacher, she left the classroom 11 years ago to focus full time on the row crop farm’s administrative duties and to help manage the first beef cattle herd she and her husband, Bill, bought. They are continuing a legacy begun by Bill Rutherford’s father in 1971.

“I always heard that if you are passionate about what you do, you never work a day in your life. It’s true, and that’s how I feel about the farm,” Mindy Rutherford said.

Customers still can find unusual items such as this fuchsia plant (left photo), at The Flower Center in Vicksburg. Bobbie Beard (right), former owner, began the successful horticulture business in her backyard 30 years ago. Her son and daughter-in-law now own the nursery. (Photos by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)
June 22, 2016 - Filed Under: Women for Agriculture, Commercial Horticulture, Lawn and Garden

VICKSBURG, Miss. -- After raising five children, Bobbie Beard began to concentrate on her second passion -- gardening.

“I’ve been digging in the dirt since I was 7 years old,” said Beard, who lives in Vicksburg. “I’ve always loved plants -- flowers, shrubs, trees. When my kids were grown, I decided it was my turn to do something for myself.”

Instead of keeping the beauty of her garden to herself, Beard decided to share it with others. At age 52, she began what is now The Flower Center Nursery in her own backyard.

Participation in 4-H led sisters Jessica and Rachel Wilson to an interest in pursuing veterinary degrees at the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)
May 25, 2016 - Filed Under: 4-H, Women for Agriculture, Animal Health

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- As children, Jessica and Rachel Wilson of Rankin County began working with animals, and now the sisters plan to devote their careers to this vocation after earning veterinary medicine degrees from Mississippi State University.

Sandy Coleman Mitchell feeds cattle at her family's farm in Corinth on July 14, 2014. Mitchell strives to educate her community about the importance of agriculture. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Kevin Hudson)
July 16, 2014 - Filed Under: Women for Agriculture

CORINTH -- Despite jokingly being called her father’s “second son” because of her willingness to help with chores while growing up on her family’s farm, Sandy Coleman Mitchell has proven that women make valuable contributions to the agricultural industry.

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