2014 DAFVM Spotlight Employees

Melvin Gipson

Melvin Gipson
December 2014

Research Technician
Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station
South MS Branch Experiment Station in Poplarville

Years in Position: 14 years
Years of Service to MSU: 14 years

Melvin Gipson turned his experiences growing up on a farm into a full-time job as a research technician at the South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station.

Gipson works primarily with forages and beef cattle. He manages the day-to-day animal husbandry tasks and works closely with scientists to oversee research projects from start to finish.

“I like my job because of the diversity it provides,” he said. “Every day presents a new or different challenge.”

Agriculture has always been a part of Gipson’s life, which is why he applied for his current position.

“I grew up farming, and I have always enjoyed agriculture,” he said. “I found the application for the research technician position, and I thought it would be a neat job. So here I am.”

Gipson said one thing he wishes people knew about his job is that it comes with many responsibilities.

“My responsibilities involve more than checking the cattle and pastures,” he said. “There is a lot of precise, meticulous work involved in my position that oftentimes people don’t see.”

Outdoor activities are Gipson’s favorite things to do during his free time.

“I have a sawmill at my house, and I enjoy making lumber for projects,” he said. “I grow sugarcane and enjoy making syrup. I also have a garden and some cows at home too. Basically, anything that has me outside, I enjoy doing.”

Gipson has a wife, Mandi, and a daughter, Abby (11).

Myung-Bok Lee

Lisa Stewart
December 2014

Extension Agent IV
MSU Extension Service
Webster County

Years in Position: 9 years
Years of Service to MSU: 27 years

When Lisa Stewart was in Webster County 4-H as a kid, she never imagined she would one day be responsible for the same program.

Stewart serves as the MSU Extension Service county coordinator in Webster County. She works with a family and consumer sciences agent to provide educational programs in agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer education, 4-H youth development, and enterprise and community resource development.

Before working for MSU, Stewart worked at the Bentonia Pest Management Association. She monitored insect populations and conducted a variety of research projects while there.

Stewart became interested in her current job because of her love for 4-H.
“I was a member of the Webster County 4-H Livestock Club during junior high school,” she said. “When I saw the position for 4-H Agent in Leake County, I had to apply for it. That is how I ended up where I am now.”

Stewart said that her job can be a challenge, but the reward of helping others is always worth the effort.

“Sometimes the stress level is high,” she said. “When people call with concerns, they would like an answer ‘right now.’ Also, several activities going on at one time can be a challenge. The fact that I am improving people’s lives on a daily basis is pretty awesome.”

In her spare time, Stewart enjoys spending time with her two daughters and her horses.

Shirley Harrington Davis

Shirley Harrington Davis
November 2014

Office Associate
MSU Extension Service
Holmes County

Years in Position: 13 Years
Years of Service to MSU: 13 Years

The Holmes County Extension Service can count on Shirley Davis to provide support to all county staff.

Davis answers the phone, inputs 4-H data, files, assists clients in all program focus areas and performs other general office duties.

Davis said what motivates her most in her job is being a resource for everyone around her.

“I love and enjoy helping my co-workers with the many aspects of their jobs,” she said. “They know they can depend on me with any task, no matter how large or small when needed. They know that I will be eager to help.”

Davis said that her favorite memories from her 13 years as an Extension office associate are from the time Crayton Coleman worked for the Holmes County Extension Service.

“He would often come to work with his smoker and pork loins or beef briskets all seasoned and ready to cook,” she said. “He would smoke that meat, and before he could get it out of the smoker, our mouths would be watering from hunger. His barbeque sauce was amazing. What a joy.”

In her spare time, Davis enjoys singing and playing Spider Solitaire. She has two sons, ages 43 and 32. Davis has 13 grandchildren.

Myung-Bok Lee

Myung-Bok Lee
November 2014

Research Associate II
Wildlife, Fisheries & Aquaculture
Starkville Campus

Years in Position: 1 Year
Years of Service to MSU: 1 Year

The Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture relies on Myung-Bok Lee to provide them with information about their research in an organized manner.

Lee is a Research Associate in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture. She analyzes the research data and prepares manuscripts for publication.

Lee is currently working on a project studying the effects of biofuel and native grass management practices on the insect community. Another project that she is working on looks at the relationship between avian species and functional diversity in agricultural landscapes.

Lee enjoys researching different topics and getting information to her colleagues in the department.

“I provide analysis of the data, which helps others in the department with their research,” she said. “That’s what I am good at.”

Lee graduated last year from The University of Texas at Arlington.

Lee said that she came to Mississippi State University because of a friend that she had in lab at UTA.

“My supervisor, who is also my friend from UTA, first asked me if I would be interested in the job,” she said. “I like it here at MSU because the size of the school is not too big or too small. It is just right.”

Lee enjoys hiking and watching movies.

Brian Utley

Brian Utley
October 2014

Senior Extension Associate
Agricultural Communications
Starkville Campus

Years in Position: 15
Years of Service to MSU: 15

The Office of Agricultural Communications relies on Brian Utley for educational video production with creative flair.

Utley produces public service announcements and commercial videos for the MSU Extension Service and the Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine. He also produces long-form instructional videos, promotional pieces and some documentaries. Utley serves as an assistant producer and videographer for all segments of The Food Factor and Southern Gardening.

Utley said his favorite part of his job is the creative process involved in each production he faces.

“I like bringing out the best in every production,” Utley said. “This may mean scene lighting, creative humor, or maybe just finding the best angle, framing and exposure for the perfect shot. Probably my favorite, though, is the on-camera interview process, when it is so important to put the interviewee at ease and establish a comfort zone and connection with them. When that powerful, heartfelt sound-byte gets delivered, I know I’ve done my job well.”

Utley said one of his favorite memories is when lead videographer David Lack went against a crop-duster.

“David and I had intentionally set up along the runway wanting to get a really great close-up shot of the pilot taking off,” Utley said. “We thought we were well out of the way and not in any danger, but we were wrong. When the plane buzzed by much closer than we anticipated, David can be heard on camera saying, ‘Not real smart.’ It was priceless.”

Utley recently won a Lantern award, the top honor given by the Southern Public Relations Federation, for his gun safety PSA, “When Is Brother Coming Home?”

In his free time, Utley enjoys turkey hunting, writing music, and sports photography. He has been married for 16 years to his wife, Jessica. Utley and Jessica have three boys: Brice (14), Kanden (12) and Cooper (8).

Marion Williams

Marion R. Williams III
October 2014

Agricultural Technician
Delta Research and Extension Center
Stoneville, MS

Years in Position: 15
Years of Service to MSU: 15

The Delta Research and Extension Center depends on Marion Williams to manage maintenance equipment, which allows the field work to be completed on time.

Williams assists in the field work that supports the research at the Stoneville center. He disks the fields and subsoils, sprays the tractors, drives the center’s 18 wheeler and cotton picker, and welds.

Williams says that his favorite part of his job is being able to work outside.

“I was raised on a farm. I have been driving tractors and combines since the age of 10, and I am now 39,” Williams said. “I also love helping everyone because there is not an (I) in the word (team).”

When Williams is not working, he enjoys collecting old tractors with his father. He plans to work with the Delta Research and Extension Center until his 50th year of employment.

Williams has been married for 12 years to his wife Shirley. He also has twin daughters, who are both currently attending college. One of his daughters hopes to become a teacher and the other one wants to become a missionary.

Joeseph Eliburg

Joseph Elinburg
September 2014

Building Maintenance Tech II
CVM Facilities Engineering
Starkville Campus

Years in Position: 2.5
Years of Service to MSU: 2.5

The MSU College of Veterinary Medicine relies on Joseph Elinburg to keep the buildings operating smoothly.

Elinburg maintains the plumbing, repairs mechanical equipment, and does whatever else needs to be done.

CVM is home to a wide range of research, Extension/outreach and academic programs and veterinary services, including the Animal Health Center, classrooms, laboratories and surgical units, which means Elinburg stays very busy.

Roy Watkins, Building Services Supervisor for CVM Facilities Engineering, said Elinburg is a great employee.

“Joseph is very pleasant to be around,” Watkins said. “He is responsible in carrying out his duties that come with the job. He is a very capable worker.”

When Elinburg is not working, he enjoys fishing and spending time with his family. He has a wife and a two-year-old child.

Marvin Saulter

Marvin Saulter
September 2014

Mechanic Shop Supervisor
Delta Research and Extension Center
Stoneville, MS

Years in Position: 16
Years of Service to MSU: 16

Marvin Saulter gave up being his own boss when he took a job as the Mechanic Shop Supervisor at the Delta Research and Extension Center.

“I was self-employed when I interviewed for the job as a mechanic,” Saulter said. “They offered me a deal that I could not turn down. I have been there ever since.”

Saulter said the best part of his job is being able to fix a variety of equipment. At a station with extensive agricultural research and Extension projects, he has plenty of machinery to keep him busy.

“I fix the trucks, cars and so forth,” Saulter said. “I make sure that everything is working how it is supposed to be. I just like fixing things.”

During his time at the Stoneville campus, Saulter has grown to appreciate his colleagues.

“My favorite memory on the job can only be one thing,” Saulter said. “I like to agitate Elmer Burchfield, the business manager at the Delta Research and Extension Center.” Burchfield has worked at the station for 50 years.

In his spare time, Saulter said he enjoys outdoor activities, music and spending time with his family. He has two children, ages 34 and 40.

“I love flying,” Saulter said. “I also enjoy playing the guitar and singing old, good country music.

Kathy Bryant

Kathy Bryant
August 2014

Business Coordinator
Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center
Raymond Campus

Years in Position: 8
Years of Service to MSU: 32

In her role as business coordinator for the Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Hinds County, Kathy Bryant helps make sure things run smoothly in the office.

“I handle the budgets and pay the bills,” she said. “I’m in charge of the hiring paperwork, I process leave requests, and I handle the travel forms.”

In addition to managing the office, Bryant works with administrative assistants at the three branch experiment stations of the Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center.

Bryant said working at the center in Raymond is never dull.

“One time I came into work and there was a lamb in the bathroom,” Bryant said. “It was the funniest thing. One of the specialists was trying to keep the lamb alive. That’s just an example of how you never know what you’re going to get into around here.”

Bryant, who has worked for MSU for almost 32 years, said she has enjoyed being part of the Bulldog family and helping others.

“I really enjoy the people I work with,” Bryant said. “I love working with our clients to make sure they get what they need. That’s a big thing I enjoy.”

When she is not at work, Bryant said she enjoys participating in church events and spending time with her son.

“My son just graduated from high school, so I’ve spent the past four years going to all of his sporting events,” she said. “He’s starting college soon, so I’m enjoying all the time I get with him after work and on the weekends."

Moss

Susan Fulgham
August 2014

Office Associate
MSU Extension Service
Starkville Campus

Years in Position: 9 years
Years of Service to MSU: 9 years

As an office associate for the Extension Center for Technology Outreach, Susan Fulgham helps the MSU Extension Service reach a broad audience.

“I help facilitate live video programs for Extension events, and I help connect video conferences,” she said.

Fulgham also travels around Mississippi to record and edit videos for livestock auctions and 4-H programs.

“There’s really no typical day at work, and that’s what I like about it,” Fulgham said. “There’s always something new to do, and that’s my favorite part about my job because I never know what the day will be like.”

Fulgham said she grew up around horses and farms, so she was familiar with the MSU Extension Service before she began working for the Extension Center for Technology Outreach nine years ago.

“I was around agriculture and farm animals during my childhood, and I have always enjoyed technology, so this job deals with two things I really enjoy,” she said.

Fulgham said she enjoys meeting Extension clients throughout the state and helping to expand Extension’s reach.

When she is not at work, Fulgham said she enjoys playing guitar and spending time with her husband and two children.
“We have horses, and my children compete in rodeos, so that takes up a lot of time,” she said. “We spend a lot of time outside.”

Grace

LaQuantia Grace
July 2014

Extension Agent I
MSU Extension Service
George County

Years in Position: 7 months
Years of Service to MSU: 7 months

As a Mississippi State University Extension agent in George County, LaQuantia Grace gets to put her passion for serving others to work.

“I love to get out in the county and see what needs to be done to make our community better,” Grace said. “I try to meet the needs of our county’s people.”

To help meet those needs, Grace plans projects with George County 4-H’ers and other MSU Extension Service groups and supervises numerous community service projects.

Grace said every day at work is different, which makes the workday pass quickly.

“Today, for example, I have a Mississippi Homemaker Volunteer meeting, so I’m preparing for that and printing off agendas to make sure that goes smoothly,” she said. “Other days I spend with 4-H’ers and plan their programs, and on a lot of days I leave the office to get out in the community and implement these projects.”

Grace said she enjoys everything about being an Extension agent, but her favorite part of the day is when she gets to work with youth.

“I just love being with the kids and helping them make the community a better place,” she said. “I also like helping them train for competitions. Watching them win first place in the seed identification contest at Club Congress this year was incredibly rewarding.”

Grace said working with children is what initially drew her to the Extension agent position.

“I graduated from Alcorn State in 2013 with a biological health science degree, and when I saw the Extension agent listing, I decided I wanted to put my degree to use to make the kids and the community healthier and better,” she said.

When she is not working, Grace said she enjoys trying new restaurants, watching movies and relaxing at her home.

Moss

Casey Moss
July 2014

Administrative Assistant I
Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station
Pontotoc Experiment Station in Pontotoc County

Years in Position: 6 months
Years of Service to MSU: 3 years

After graduating with a business degree from Mississippi State University, Casey Moss wanted to find a way to remain part of the Bulldog family but live close to her family in Pontotoc. As the administrative assistant for the Pontotoc Experiment Station, she achieves goals.

“I grew up in Pontotoc and went to high school in Pontotoc, so it’s nice to come back closer to home,” Moss said. “I’m still with the university, though, which is great.”

In her role as administrative assistant, Moss said she stays busy managing large quantities of paperwork and overseeing day-to-day operations in the office.

“I do a lot of the accounting and paying bills,” she said. “I work with the budget, and I handle the hiring work, travel paperwork and payroll. Keeping everything organized helps things run smoothly.”

Moss said her favorite part of the workday is meeting people in the community who have questions about samples, such as soil samples.

“I really enjoy being able to help out members of my community by directing them to the people who can help them with their samples,” Moss said. “It’s interesting getting to be a part of that.”

When she’s not working, Moss returns to MSU’s campus for sporting events whenever she gets the chance. She also enjoys spending time with her niece and nephew.

“I love the atmosphere of Mississippi State,” Moss said. “Even though I’m not in Starkville anymore, that atmosphere stays in your heart while you’re working for an extension of MSU.”

Hathcock

Crissy Hathcock
June 2014

Asst. Director of Financial Services
College of Forest Resources and Forest and Wildlife Research Center
Starkville Campus

Years in Position: 1 year
Years of Service to MSU: 5 years

In her role as the assistant director of financial services, Crissy Hathcock helps make financial decisions for the Mississippi State University College of Forest Resources and the MSU Forest and Wildlife Research Center.

“I manage everything dealing with the financial aspects of the college and the research center,” Hathcock said. “I handle human resources paperwork, oversee purchases and prepare the university budget for the College of Forest Resources and the research center.”

Although overseeing the finances keeps her constantly busy, Hathcock said she enjoys each work day because she gets to work with a great team of people.

“I’m always in a constant state of busyness at work, but I love all the people I get to work with in the unit,” Hathcock said. “Everyone is easy to get along with, and we all have the common goal of making the college and research center the best they can be.”

Hathcock is a Certified Public Accountant. She earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in taxation from MSU.

“It’s great to remain part of the Bulldog family,” she said. “I take pride in my job and know my education from MSU is being used to benefit the university.”

When she is not at work, Hathcock said she enjoys spending time with her husband and the congregation at Arbor Grove Baptist Church in Houston, Miss.

“My husband is a youth minister at the church, so we spend a lot of time with the youth,” she said. “It’s something I love getting to do.”

LaCoss

Nikki LaCoss
June 2014

Animal Health Technician
College of Veterinary Medicine
Starkville Campus

Years in Position: 10 years
Years of Service to MSU: 10 years

As an animal health technician for the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Nikki LaCoss gets to turn her passion for animals into a career while helping veterinary students learn the ropes.

“I work in the surgery department, and I help the vet school students do physical exams on the animals,” LaCoss said. “We do everything from helping them draw blood to putting in catheters to taking radiographs. I work closely with the students and the animals every day, which is great.”

LaCoss said it is rewarding to see the students complete their educations and succeed in the field of veterinary medicine.

“I think one of the best things about my job is watching the students go on to do their residencies and become board-certified surgeons,” LaCoss said. “Watching them grow and knowing I had an influence on them is a wonderful feeling.”

LaCoss earned two degrees in psychology before making a career change to animal health.

“During grad school, I realized I didn’t really want to work in psychology, but I decided to go ahead and finish my master’s and then take a while to figure out what to do career-wise,” LaCoss said. “I asked myself what I’m passionate about and realized I wanted to work with animals. I have not looked back since.”

When she is not working, LaCoss said she enjoys participating in medieval reenactments, playing Dungeons and Dragons and canoeing.

“I actually met my husband through medieval reenactments,” LaCoss said. “We travel to several Southern states to participate in reenactments whenever we get the chance.”

Ivey

Zack Ivy
May 2014

Research Technician
Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station
North MS Research and Extension Center in Lee County

Years in Position: 2 years
Years of Service to MSU: 2 years

After growing up on a soybean farm, Zack Ivy knew he wanted to make a career of working with crops. He continues to foster his love for agriculture today in his role as a research technician at the Northeast Mississippi Branch Experiment Station in Lee County.

The work Ivy does ultimately benefits Mississippi farmers. He helps manage research plots for Dr. Normie Buehring, and the data collected there contributes to soybean and cotton variety trial information. He is also working with irrigation studies.

Ivy spends his workdays harvesting and collecting data from corn, cotton, soybeans and rice at the experiment station in Verona. Despite sometimes working in extreme heat, Ivy said he enjoys going to work each day.

“I’ve always had an interest in agriculture, so I really like collecting the crops and analyzing the data,” Ivy said. “Sometimes I pick the crops by hand, and sometimes I use machinery. The most challenging part is just working through the heat, but I don’t really mind it.”

He helps his supervisor, Wesley Bass, in the shop, and is considered a good mechanic. He can operate all of the required farming equipment, including combines and tractors.

Ivy began work at the Verona R&E Center while still a high school student. After graduating early, he became a temporary worker before transitioning to full-time employment in 2012.

When he is not at work, Ivy enjoys fishing, riding 4-wheelers and hunting deer.

Moore

Karen Moore
May 2014

Office Associate
MSU Extension Service
Lamar County

Years in Position: 20 years
Years of Service to MSU: 20

In her role as the office associate for the Mississippi State University Extension Service in Leflore County, Karen Moore has helped the Extension office run smoothly for 20 years.

“I answer the phones, take messages and handle all of the paperwork that comes through the office,” Moore said. “I also help out with 4-H and county development and anything else that needs to be done. I guess I just do a little bit of everything.”

Although office tasks take up a large part of her workday, Moore said the best part about her job is working with the 4-H youth who come in and out of the office.

“I just love my job,” Moore said. “I get to help with the 4-H kids a lot and see them whenever they come to the office. I like helping them with their photography projects and watching their robotics workshops.”

Occasionally, Moore travels to Extension and 4-H conferences to attend workshops and lectures or chaperone 4-H’ers.

“One time I got to go to Little Rock because our county agent couldn’t go, so I went to help keep up with the kids from our county,” she said. “It was an educational experience, as well as a lot of fun.”

Moore said her job in the Extension office inspired her to volunteer as a 4-H leader. For 12 years, she helped youth involved in 4-H shooting sports.

“It’s great to see those children be able to learn the different safety measures for shooting sports and progress to the different competition levels,” Moore said. “It’s very rewarding to help with that.”

When she’s not working or volunteering, Moore enjoys reading and playing hymns on the piano.

Photo of Bully

Robert “Tony” Adams
April 2014

Dairy Herder
Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station
Coastal Plain Experiment Station

Years in Position: 32.5
Years of Service to MSU: 32.5

From the time he was a student at MSU, Tony Adams has been involved with cattle.

“I worked at the MSU dairy farm and was a member of the 1982 MSU Dairy Cattle Judging Team,” Adams said. “I also served as president of the MSU Dairy Science Club.”

Adams began working at the Coastal Plain Experiment Station for the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station as a student worker. After he got his dairy science degree, he became the assistant dairy herdsman at the station.

Under his management, the Coastal Plain dairy herd became one of the most productive in the Southeast. He received the Mississippi Dairy Herd Improvement Association’s Master Dairy Producer award for 25 consecutive years.

“I’m very interested in helping young people learn about agriculture,” Adams said. “I’ve volunteered with Newton County 4-H and helped with their dairy cattle project for 25 years.”

Over the years, he has trained several 4-H and FFA dairy cattle judging teams. He has served as the superintendent of the Newton State Fall Dairy Cattle Show for about 25 years. He’s a familiar face at dairy cattle shows around the state, including the Mississippi State Fair and the Dixie National Junior Round-up.

Since the dispersal of the dairy herd in 2005, Adams has been responsible for the beef herd at the Coastal Plain station.

Adams enjoys horse trail riding and hunting. He serves on the Newton County Farm Bureau Board of Directors and is a deacon at Poplar Springs Baptist Church.

Jones

Regina Boykins
April 2014

Extension Agent III
MSU Extension Service
Humphreys County

Years in Position: 16
Years of Service to MSU: 16

Regina Boykins enjoys helping people.
“I really love that I have the opportunity to encourage people and help them change their lives for the better by giving them the information and resources they need,” said Boykins, an Extension agent in the Humphreys County office.

Youth and adults benefit from her work in 4-H, family consumer science and community resource development.

She manages several 4-H community clubs, summer day camps, afterschool activities, special interest programs and volunteer trainings. Boykins said working with youth can be difficult at times but is the most rewarding part of the job.

“I had a young lady in 4-H who was quite a challenge, but she later came to me and told me what a difference I’d made in her life,” she said. “That was great. I was so proud of her.”

Boykins coordinates several events to promote healthy lifestyles and strong finances, including the Healthy, Wealthy and Wise financial program for adults, the Real World financial life skills activity for high school students, and the Body Walk exhibit for elementary schools.

She works closely with the Humphreys County Health Network and the Belzoni Health Council to meet other health needs in the county.

“We meet monthly to discuss health-related issues in the community and collaborate to promote healthier lifestyles in our communities,” Boykins said. “Together we host numerous health fairs and coordinate the Community Health and Fitness Day. We also are working to get our community garden started again.”

When she’s not working, Boykins enjoys traveling, writing and putting together jigsaw puzzles.

Judy Anderson

Andrea “Andi” Hannigan
March 2014

Animal Health Technician
Community Veterinary Services/Animal Health Center
College of Veterinary Medicine

Years in Position: 1.5 years
Years of Service to MSU: 7.5 years

Andi Hannigan grew up running around Mississippi State University’s Starkville campus. With both parents employed by the university, she had little doubt where she would go to college. What she didn’t anticipate was the turn her career path would take.

“My mother worked at Forest Product Laboratories until her death in 2002, and my father is still an instructor in aerospace engineering,” Hannigan said. “I enrolled in aerospace engineering at MSU before eventually graduating in the very first class of veterinary technologists in 2012.”

Hannigan became a certified veterinary technologist in the spring of 2013. Her workday at the College of Veterinary Medicine includes both routine and more in-depth cases. She is especially interested in dental cases.

“We see a number of dental cases, which can vary from a routine dental cleaning to patients who need extractions because of fractures or pathological changes,” she said. “Occasionally I will assist with root canals.”

Hannigan enjoys her job, but it’s not all about the cute factor.

“Most people usually assume that the best part of my job is getting to see puppies and kittens all the time, but I’d have to say that my favorite part is actually getting to see a patient as it grows up -- especially those I met as a student and now see as a technician,” she said. “I like meeting the pet and then seeing it work through any problems it may have.”

Outside of work, Hannigan keeps herself busy. She is a certified volunteer fire fighter, a Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience instructor at Camp Seminole, and a former member of the Mississippi Brawl Stars roller derby team. She bought her first motorcycle when she was 16. Growing up, she learned to fly single and twin engine planes with her father, who is a flight instructor. She also enjoys horseback riding.

Jones

Ebony Jones
March 2014

Extension Agent I
MSU Extension Service
Tunica County

Years in Position: 7
Years of Service to MSU: 7

From the moment she started her job as an Extension agent in Tunica County, Ebony Jones has been on the move.

With multiple school, community and special interest clubs, every day is different.

“In livestock season I could be in my office with heels on one day and in a pen with work boots on the next,” Jones said. “I could be working with 4-H’ers to plant a garden and then need to be ready for a meeting. I could be practicing with my drama team and then turn around to do a community-clean up or pack bags at the local food bank. That’s what I love about 4-H -- I can’t get bored.”

Jones appreciates the 4-H program’s flexibility.

“The kids drive the program,” she said. “We’re not restricted. We’re able to offer any type of program the county needs. Computers, dogs, robotics, bugs, sewing -- if a 4-H’er is interested in it, we’ll explore it. It’s very empowering to them.”

Twice a week Jones teaches a public speaking class, and she has seen the powerful impact it has had on young people in her community.

“Some of these kids never knew they had a gift for speaking or felt they had a voice,” she said. “When they find out there is place in this world for the gifts that they have, they’re so excited. No one offered that to them before. They say, ‘I knew my mouth was big for a reason!’ They know that they fit in at 4-H.”

Jones is willing to serve her clients because she appreciates the relationships they are building.

“I had a student who was smart but struggling. She couldn’t pass her state test, and she really wanted to go to college,” Jones said. “We would study together, and when she finally passed that test, I rejoiced with her and her mother.

“It’s the relationships that you gain, the families and the community, that make this job wonderful. You don’t get that in every job,” Jones said.

In addition to her work, Jones enjoys her work in ministry and visiting her family in Lexington.

Judy Anderson

Judy Anderson
February 2014

Office Associate
MSU Extension Service
Lamar County

Years in Position: 12.5 years
Years of Service to MSU: 12.5 years

As the office associate for the MSU Extension Service in Lamar County, Judy Anderson does a little bit of everything to make sure day-to-day business runs smoothly.

“I answer the phone a lot,” Anderson said. “I help clients with publications and answer questions when they come in the office. I keep up with the mailing lists and postage meter, and I send out letters. I set up for meetings and schedule interactive video classes, then keep a register of who is attending.”

Anderson also maintains the office inventory, files monthly reports, assists 4-H volunteers, and helps the forestry and cattlemen’s associations with their mail-outs and meeting registrations.

With three Extension agents in a busy office, Anderson is never bored.

“I like being able to help our clients, serve our community, and support the work the agents do,” she said.

The MSU Extension Service is dedicated to sharing research-based educational materials about nearly everything, from healthy eating to lawn care.

To fulfill that mission, Anderson maintains the publications rack, where clients can browse and take home free materials. She also makes clients aware of the MSUcares website, where they can find publications and specialist contact information.

Anderson and her husband of 39 years, Danny, have been blessed with children Heather, Holly and Joey; grandchildren Jade and Lance; and a large extended family.

Anderson said one of her most memorable Extension experiences was the District Office Associate Training at Challenge Country.

 “It was all about teamwork and cooperation,” she said. “I had a great day with a great group of ladies! I have made so many new friends over the years and am truly blessed to work with such a fine organization and a fantastic group of people.”

Nicole McBrayer

Nicole McBrayer
February 2014

Medical Technologist II
Pathobiology/Population Medicine
College of Veterinary Medicine

Years in Position: 10 years
Years of Service to MSU: 10 years

Nicole McBrayer has spent ten years running lab work at the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine’s Animal Health Center, but she said helping patients never gets old.

From routine blood work to urinalysis, McBrayer looks for abnormal results that might shed some light on the causes of the patients’ problems.

“We run labs for small and large animals -- cats, dogs, horses and cows. Lab work helps clinicians diagnose what might be wrong with the patient,” McBrayer said. “I really enjoy when we’re able to help the clinicians diagnose something that will help them treat a patient. We don’t see the animals much --we work in the lab with the samples, but it feels like we’re making a positive difference when we find information to help the clinicians.”

McBrayer graduated from the Mississippi University for Women with a degree in microbiology. After attending medical technology school in Tupelo, she worked in human medicine before migrating to veterinary medicine.

“I like taking results and solving problems,” she said.

McBrayer and her husband Keith will celebrate fifteen years of marriage this year. They have two children: 11-year-old Laura and 8-year-old Will.

McBrayer enjoys reading, travelling,  and going to MSU football games with her family.

Sydney Hall

Sydney Hall
January 2014

Research Associate I
Media Collaboration Laboratory
Social Science Research Center

Years in Position: 6 months
Years of Service to MSU: 2 years

When Sydney Hall began her job as a student worker in the Media Collaboration Laboratory of the Social Science Research Center, she planned to become a librarian. Two years later, she completed a master’s degree in Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion. Why? She became passionate about the work done at SSRC to promote healthy lifestyles.

“At the Media Collaboration Laboratory I use various communication media to highlight the world-class interdisciplinary research conducted at the SSRC,” Hall said. “I work on multiple health-related research projects, such as Partnerships to Promote Healthy Lifestyles, which uses creative techniques to teach pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students, their parents, teachers and community members about topics related to obesity.”

Hall’s work allows her to interact with a diverse group of colleagues working on vastly different projects.

“I love meeting everyone and finding out more about the interdisciplinary research the SSRC team members conduct,” she said. “It’s so encouraging to work with a group of people who truly want to make an impact on the world, and do!”

In her free time, Hall enjoys geocaching.

“Geocaching is essentially a treasure hunting game in which people use a GPS-enabled device to navigate to hidden containers,” she said. “I love it because it encourages people to go outside and visit places they normally wouldn’t.”

She also serves on the board of the MSU Alumni Association’s Huntsville/Decatur chapter as the publications, marketing and social media chair.

Claudia John

Cyndi Harvey
January 2014

Animal Health Technician
Clinical Science Department
College of Veterinary Medicine

Years in Position:  6 months
Years of Service to MSU: 1.5

Working at Mississippi State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine provides a lot of variety for animal health technician Cyndi Harvey, who spends her days making a difference in the lives of both students and patients.

“I’ve been working in the Internal Medicine department for six months after a year of working the overnight shift in the ICU,” Harvey said. “During a typical day, I assist the fourth-year veterinary students that are on our rotation in collecting blood for lab tests, placing catheters, preparing for radiology, and really, just helping with anything else they might need.”

She also helps technicians administer chemotherapy drugs to chemo patients and collects blood from donor dogs for blood transfusions.

Harvey enjoys the high level of skill required to work at MSU’s veterinary college.

“I get to do advanced procedures, like placing jugular catheters, that I might not get to do anywhere else,” she said. “One day I placed an IV catheter in an 8-week-old kitten.”

When she’s not at work, she enjoys spending time with her fiancé, Scott, who is a first-year veterinary student. They plan to get married May 31 in Independence, Miss. She also enjoys visiting her friends and family in north Mississippi, where she and her mom ride horses.