MSU Extension Service welcomes new director
By By Patty Swearingen / MSU extension service county director
June 15, 2003
I would like to introduce myself to you as your new Mississippi State University Extension Service County Director.
The Extension Service has always played an important part in my life.
When I was growing up, I remember visiting my Aunt Mattie Claytons' home in Lauderdale and seeing a picture of her as one of the first Tomato Club Girls in Lauderdale County. My aunt was very involved in the club that later became known as the 4-H Club.
It was many years later that I realized why she talked with such enthusiasm about the many things she learned from the Extension Service. She influenced in my mother, Dot Shaw, to become an Extension home economist in Kemper County.
The more I watched my mother work with the people in the county and the different clubs, the more I realized how much she enjoyed seeing someone improve their quality of life.
It was during these years that I became involved in 4-H. The club gave me the opportunity to "make the best better." My self-confidence grew, as I was able to express myself in the projects I was involved in.
After graduating from Mississippi State University, my dream came true. The MSU Extension Service in Monroe County employed me as 4-H youth agent. Two years later, I became the Extension's home economist/county coordinator.
The old saying "all good things must come to an end" happened to me. After 11 wonderful years with Extension, my husband, Harvey, was transferred to the Meridian area with the Kansas City Southern Railroad.
It was hard to say goodbye to all the acquaintances I had made over the years with the Extension Service but new opportunities were ahead for me.
I was employed for five years with Meridian Public Schools as director of Food Services. For the last three years, I had the honor to be a stay-at-home mom for Patrick, age 12, and Ashley, age 9.
Very seldom does someone get a second chance at a job they truly enjoy, but I have been given that chance.
Extension has changed a lot over the last eight years, but the changes are for the better. Change is good as it helps us work more efficiently in this fast-paced lifestyle we live in today.
My title is county director for Lauderdale County. It is my responsibility to provide leadership and coordination for the total county extension educational effort.
Our office is on the fifth floor of the Raymond P. Davis Courthouse Annex.
The staff located in Lauderdale County is made up of our two 4-H agents, Beth Randall and Justin Rodgers, who actively provide leadership with our 4-H members and youth in the county.
Steve Strong is an area agent who provides training in horticulture and works with the Master Gardening program, and our nutrition and food safety area agent is Evelyn Acklin.
We have two secretaries who are also willing to serve your needs, Edna Manley and Helen Bounds.
With the reorganization of the Extension program, several area agents from surrounding counties specialize in specific educational areas to help you with your needs:
Animal science/forages Roy Higdon III
Child and family development Deborah VanDevender
Family resource management Susan Cosgrove
Forestry Gordon Bales
Leadership development Marilyn Bailey
Risk/farm management Curtis Jones
Wildlife Bill Maily
As you can tell, Extension has changed, but our goals are still the same. We are here to serve you. If we can assist you in any way, please call our office at 482-9764.
I look forward to working with you and meeting you in the near future.