2019 DAFVM Spotlight Employees

Kimberly Johnson

Kimberly Johnson
January 2019


Years in Position: 4
Years at MSU: 4

Attention to detail and a passion for learning new things have made pathohistology a perfect career for Kim Johnson.

Histotechnologists perform the numerous steps required to prepare tissue samples for examination and diagnosis by a pathologist.

Kim’s work is very technical and precise.

“A lot rides on what we do,” she explains. “In both human and animal medicine, everyone wants results as soon as possible, but most people don’t understand how much time it takes to prepare the tissue samples for reading.”

Before joining CVM, Kim worked at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo.

“A lady I used to work for taught me everything I know about histology. She worked at NMMC in Tupelo for 40 years. She got me interested in it and then I fell in love with it. It’s never dull.”

Though Kim enjoyed her job at NMMC, she was intrigued by an MSU job posting. She started work in January 2015, not knowing her family would soon face a difficult trial.

“In February of that year my six-year-old grandson was having headaches and getting nauseated,” she remembers. “My son-in-law had taken him to get blood work and the doctor thought he was having migraines.”

After her grandson collapsed on the playground, Kim knew something was seriously wrong. A CT scan revealed a mass on his brain.

“I thought, ‘I’ve just started this job at MSU, what am I going to do?’ But the people here were incredibly supportive,” she says.

After an eight-hour surgery, 6 weeks of radiation and 8 months of chemotherapy, her grandson was cancer free, and has been for three years.

Kim has been married to Ricky Johnson for 22 years. Between them they have four children, Lee Ann Houpt, Brandon Sheffield, Brian Johnson, and Kevin Johnson; and four grandchildren, Brodey, Collins, Harley, and Chase. Kim loves animals, and has dogs, cats, and cows.

“I love being outside and enjoying family life,” she says. “You look at family differently when you’ve gone through something like this. My parents are still alive, 83 and 79, and I love spending time with them.”

Travis Childress

Travis Childress
January 2019

Operations Coordinator
Mississippi Horse Park

Years in Position: 3
Years at MSU: 3

Originally from Mason, Tennessee, Travis and his family moved to Starkville three years ago for him to assume the position of Facility Operations Coordinator at the Mississippi Horse Park.

Travis and his two technicians are responsible for maintaining the facility including equipment, grounds, barns, arenas and roads.

“The Horse Park is heavily used each year and had 145 days of activities in 2018,” Travis said. “My crew is responsible for the setup and breakdown of all of these events. I try to go above and beyond expectations to accommodate the needs of producers and attendees. I want everyone who walks through the gates to feel welcome.”

Travis enjoys getting to do something different every day and meeting new people along the way.

“I have a pretty laid back personality, and I thrive under the pressure of events,” he said.

Travis and his wife, Kim, have four children John, Kolton, Kaylee and Kinlee. In his spare time, you will find him at barrel races all over the country and spending time with his family.

Thomas Brewer

Thomas Brewer
February 2019

Extension Agent IV/
County Coordinator
MSU Extension
Jefferson Davis County

Years in position: 17
Years at MSU: 20

Each day is different for Extension Agent Thomas E. Brewer. He researches and delivers information that improves quality of life for clients in areas such as agriculture and livestock, 4-H youth development, and community development. He enjoys meeting new people and believes he helps clients understand vital information.

Behind the scenes, Thomas is responsible for directing the development of countywide educational programs that meet the needs of local people and complies with the mission of the MSU Extension Service. In addition to working hard as an Extension agent, he currently serves at the president of the Mississippi Association of County Agricultural Agents.

“I also love working with children,” Thomas said. “My favorite memory so far is when a 4-H’er asked about how he could get a job like mine. So, we sat down and talked about the things he would need to start working on from an educational standpoint.”

In 1998, Thomas chose this career because he knew it would allow him to serve people daily. Extension serves all 82 counties across Mississippi.

In that same year, Thomas graduated from Tuskegee University with a Bachelor of Science degree in extension and technical education. He earned a master of science at Mississippi State University in Agricultural and Informational Sciences in 2007.

“This career has surely provided me with the opportunity and aspiration to assist in developing and improving the economic, social and cultural well-being of all Mississippians,” Thomas said.

Thomas and his wife, Natasha, have two children and are all members of the New Galilee Missionary Baptist Church in Magee. In his spare time, he enjoys riding and training Tennessee walking horses.

Janie Taylor

Janie Taylor
February 2019

Administrative Assistant
Truck Crops Branch
Experiment Station

Years in Position: 24
Years at MSU: 30

Administrative Assistant Janie Taylor knows how to “do it all” after three decades of work at MSU. Her responsibilities at the Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station in Copiah County include monitoring and checking out credit card charges, handling new-hire paperwork, advising how to purchase necessary office supplies and even working on the copier.

“Routinely, I pay the bills, monitor purchasing, and reconcile account balances,” Janie said. “I enjoy working with the people in my office, whether that is assisting them with finding and purchasing supplies they need or helping them gather information they need for a project.”

Janie’s smile brightens her office, as she loves meeting new people and spending time with the friends she has found in her co-workers.

“One of my favorite things about working at my job are the many friends I have made over the years,” Janie said.

She said her job requires a lot of focus because the responsibilities of her position are so broad and vital to her office.

“I have discovered new strengths, developed them and built upon them,” Janie said. “I think it helps tremendously to have an attitude of service to others; it is rewarding to be able to be someone’s ‘right-hand-man’ in helping them accomplish a task.”

When she is not spending time with her family, Janie is very involved with her church and its music program as well as in numerous community music events. She also likes to relax by reading and going for walks outside with her husband.


Gregory BiggsChiquita Johnson
March 2019

Office Associate 
MSU Extension
Jefferson County

Years in position: 8
Years at MSU: 9

Each day is different for The Jefferson County office may have just two people staffing it, but office associate Chiquita Johnson can wear many hats.

“I do whatever it takes to fulfill our clients’ needs,” she said. “Over the years I’ve learned that my main role is to be a support system for the office, but I’ve also had to learn everyone else’s role.”

Chiquita works to get clients the resources they need, and if those resources aren’t available in Jefferson County, she finds out who offers those resources.

“I want our clients to get full service, whether it’s taking a soil sample or talking to a specialist,” she said.

Chiquita is a 4-H volunteer and an NRCS commissioner, and both of those organizations benefit from her dedication.

“My 4-H volunteering takes up more time than my job!” she said. “We do a lot of outreach with NRCS, we send clients to them and they send clients to us. We are a small town, so we don’t want to duplicate efforts.”

With her older two children grown and gone, Chiquita loves working with children.

“I want to provide opportunities that children in our region wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise, and I love mentoring children,” she said.

The day she got hired full time sticks out as her favorite memory working for Extension.

“I came as a call-in secretary and wasn’t expecting to be offered a permanent position,” she explained.

A close second for most memorable moment was when a client called about a buzzard with a broken wing in his backyard.

“Let’s call someone in wildlife,” she told him.

Chiquita said she loves the variety in her job.

“I love what Extension offers. It’s never boring. It’s always fun and you get to experience so much. I learn in every situation that we’re teaching or providing information. I have the opportunity to learn something new every day.”

When not working or volunteering, she enjoys reading and spending time with her three children and 3-year-old grandson.

“I find my peace when I’m dealing with the kids who are our future,” she said.



Jennifer Ashworth Jennifer Ashworth
March 2019

Clinical Admissions Assistant
Clinical Sciences Department 
College of Veterinary Medicine

Years in Position: 1.6
Years at MSU: 1.6

In her role in the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine, Jennifer Ashworth is the liaison between clients and doctors. She wants to make sure that the clients are well informed while they are waiting for their pets.

Many patients are referred to the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine by other veterinarians in private practices. Jennifer works to maintain a healthy relationship with referral veterinarians and the MSU Vet School.

 “I want to ensure our clients leave satisfied with our care and with the understanding that we can assist if they ever should need us again,” she said.

Jennifer enjoys learning new information about veterinary medicine every day. She finds joy in being able to help clients as much as possible. The more she knows about the subject, the more knowledge she has to help and calm an upset client. She always has to be ready to inform anyone about nearly anything they need to know. 
“It is not just about answering phones. There is never a dull moment, and I am always talking to others. It is also important to have a positive mindset and an ability to work effectively with a team,” she said.

She and her husband are parents to two young boys as well as caretakers of four animals. In the warmer seasons, they enjoy trips to the park and eating snow cones. Everyone in the family loves the outdoors. In her spare time, she makes jewelry and works with vinyl items.

 “My boys love to help me make their t-shirts. I love to live life to the fullest and try to each day,” Jennifer said.


Facebook logo and link

Site Map | Ethics Line | Legal Notices | EEO Statement | Page Maintainer: webteam@ext.msstate.edu

Produced by the Office of Agricultural Communications. | Last updated on April 1, 2019.
Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine, Box 9800, Mississippi State, MS 39762 • (662) 325-3006

Mississippi State University is an equal opportunity institution. Discrimination in university employment, programs or activities based on race, color, ethnicity, sex, pregnancy, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, genetic information, status as a U.S. veteran, or any other status protected by applicable law is prohibited. For more information, please contact the Office of Compliance and Integrity.