Development Direction

A group of five men and women standing on the MSU football field during a game day.
Harry Martin, center, with, from left, his daughter, Janet Martin, current 4-H State President Savana Ashley, past 4-H State President Connor Hidalgo, and 4-H Center Interim Head Linda Mitchell

Assessing and Adjusting

MSU Extension prepares 4-H HomeGrown Scholarship campaign

Story by Nathan Gregory • Photo by Michaela Parker

Harry Martin helped create the blueprint for major industrial and economic development in Lee County, and now he is laying another foundation for something big—this time for a Mississippi 4-H statewide scholarship campaign.

Martin partnered with the Mississippi State University Extension Center for 4-H Youth Development to establish the Harry Martin 4-H Youth Leadership Endowed Scholarship for Lee County 4-H’ers. His support was recognized September 11, 2021, when he was presented a commemorative football during the game between MSU and North Carolina State University.

Now, Extension and the MSU Foundation are introducing a fundraising campaign to create a similar endowed scholarship for 4-H’ers in the state’s remaining 81 counties. A gradual rollout of the 4-H HomeGrown Scholarships campaign will begin later in 2022.

I hope this scholarship will help another student with that kind of potential finish school the way my scholarship helped me.

— Harry Martin

“The setup will be similar to a GoFundMe, and you can donate to whatever county you choose,” says Dr. Linda Mitchell, interim head of the 4-H Center and Extension coordinator for the northeast region. “You can donate a dollar here or $10 there; you won’t need large amounts of money to participate. We encourage past 4-H members, club leaders, and volunteer leaders to donate. It’s a great opportunity for everyone to participate and support 4-H.”

While Martin committed more than the required $25,000 minimum to endow the scholarship for Lee County, anyone can contribute online to build toward the minimum endowment for the county the donor chooses, once the campaign is launched.

Martin himself was the beneficiary of a 4-H scholarship. He enrolled at what was then Mississippi State College in 1942 as a 16-year-old, but his service in World War II interrupted his studies. Martin graduated in 1948 with a degree in agricultural administration.

Following a stint as an assistant Extension agent in Lee County, Martin was named head of the Community Development Foundation, the economic development organization for Tupelo and Lee County, in 1956. During his 43 years at the helm of the foundation, 226 manufacturing plants located there, and the organization’s budget grew from $40,000 to $1 million upon his retirement in 2000.

Martin said his experiences in 4-H and as an MSU student were instrumental in his eventual success steering industry to northeast Mississippi.

“My pipeline to Mississippi State was through my 4-H activities. The people at the university that admitted me stayed with me and directed me down a course to a job where I helped Lee County become the No. 1 industrial county in the state,” he says. “I hope this scholarship will help another student with that kind of potential finish school the way my scholarship helped me.”

Learn more about the launch of the HomeGrown Scholarship campaign here.


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