Extension in Action

A woman smiling with two smiling children. A sitting woman holding a baby with a toddler standing in front. A woman reading a book to toddlers. Children pedaling on a merry-go-round beside a woman holding a toddler. A woman pointing to a display with toddlers watching. A woman interacting with four children.
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Story by Leah Barbour • Photos by Kevin Hudson


At least half the childcare providers in Pike County, from Summit to the state line, are participating in free trainings scheduled and delivered by Don Smith, the Mississippi State University Extension Service agent in Pike County.

In 2021, 53 people earned contact hours to maintain state licensure at their respective facilities. Every staff member at McComb Learning Center in McComb and Vision’s Christian Academy in Magnolia, which both serve infants through preschoolers, completed Extension trainings.


Care to Read, a hands-on early-literacy program, shows teachers how classroom environments can enhance language and literacy, what strategies teachers may use when reading aloud with children, and how scribbling, drawing, and painting impact writing efforts. Hundreds of childcare providers participated in Extension’s Care to Read program in 2020.


Smith schedules trainings as needed for childcare facilities. Not only does he provide staff trainings following the end of a regular workday, but he can also schedule full-day Saturday trainings that allow childcare providers to complete their contact hours in one sitting.


McComb Learning Center
1056 Hwy 98/51
McComb, MS 39648

Vision’s Christian Academy
6138 Hwy 48 E
Magnolia, MS 39652


Extension provides a range of state-approved training and development opportunities to childcare workers. Along with Care to Read, other popular Extension trainings include Healthy Homes Childcare, which teaches how to create safer environments at childcare facilities; TummySafe, the food managers’ safety course for childcare providers; and Early Learning Guidelines and Early Learning Standards, a program for early-care and education providers to address developmental milestones and learning strategies from birth to 5 years.


"Extension teaches the state regulations for keeping the children learning and healthy in a safe environment. Even though we’re in the country, we get the training we when we need it."

— Maggie Dillon, Vision’s Christian Academy director


"Nothing is complicated when we schedule trainings with Extension. We know what we’re learning is legitimate. Extension is the easiest way to be 100-percent certain I am keeping my staff in compliance with state guidelines."

— Carmen Clark, McComb Learning Center owner/operating manager


"Our Extension agent knows his stuff. He makes it hands-on, and he can teach it because he knows it. You can see the growth in the center through the growth of the caregivers, and we like the way Don teaches and trains."

— Marshanta Allen-Osby, Vision’s Christian Academy director’s designee

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