What’s New in Extension

Extension distributes 78,000 masks in Mississippi

Story by Leah Barbour

When a federal agency made mass shipments of thousands of masks available nationally, the Extension health director in Washington, D.C., Dr. Roger Rennekamp, reached out to his longtime colleague Dr. David Buys, an associate professor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

He asked, could MSU Extension use any?

Buys, also Extension’s state health specialist, said yes. He contacted the heads of the four MSU Research and Extension Centers to ask them to gather mask requests from all 82 counties. Buys and Rennekamp sent the compiled request to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Altogether, 78,000 masks were requested and distributed across the state. Mask recipients included young people in Extension’s Ready in the Middle and My PI programs, which teach teens and preteens disaster preparation skills. Masks have also been added to Extension activity-bag giveaways in many counties.

Two young women wearing Mississippi State University clothing hold while plastic bags with the MSU Extension Service logo.
78,000 masks were distributed across the state. 

Extension Faculty Join National Boards

Compiled by Rhiannon Page

Three faculty members with the Mississippi State University Extension Service— Dr. Drew Gholson, Dr. Jason Barrett, and Dr. David Buys—recently joined national boards.

Gholson, an assistant professor, heads Extension’s Row-Crop Irrigation Science Extension and Research (RISER) initiative. He was named coordinator of the National Center for Alluvial Aquifer Research.

Barrett, an assistant professor, oversees many different water-related programs for state residents, including the Mississippi Well Owner Network and the Public Water Assistance Program. Barrett, who is also Extension’s water quality specialist, was appointed to chair the Alabama/Mississippi section of the American Water Works Association.

Finally, Buys is an associate professor involved in a range of Extension health programs. Buys, also Extension’s state health specialist, was elected to the National Board of Public Health Examiners’ board of directors.

These faculty members continue their Extension outreach efforts to Mississippians.

Three smiling men standing several feet apart from each other under the shade of a tree.
Gholson, Barrett, and Buys joined national boards.

MSU Crosby Arboretum Opens New Bridge, Pavilion

Compiled by Leah Barbour

The Mississippi State University Crosby Arboretum in Picayune recently opened two new architectural features, the Mirror Perch Bridge and the Rosen Pavilion.

Both structures are located within the Gum Pond educational exhibit on the north end of the nationally renowned native-plant conservatory. Installed mostly by hand because of the exhibit’s delicate ecosystem, the bridge and pavilion highlight the pond’s ecological importance.

The Mirror Perch Bridge was designed by Hans C. Herrmann, an associate professor in the MSU School of Architecture. The Rosen Pavilion was designed by Robert Poore, an architect with the ecological design firm Native Habitats Inc., and named in memory of the late Yvette Rosen, a former member of the arboretum foundation board. The Gum Pond exhibit serves as an outdoor classroom for the public to learn how semi-permanently flooded gum swamp forests contribute to water quality in the Gulf Coastal Plain. More interpretive signs and plants will be added soon.

Overseen by the MSU Extension Service, the arboretum’s mission is to bring people closer to nature and help them understand how they are linked to the natural world.

Four people stand behind a recently cut large red ribbon on a new bridge over a body of water.
The arboretum was created to bring people closer to nature.

Mississippi Farm Bureau Recognizes Extension Faculty

Compiled by Rhiannon Page

Two Mississippi State University Extension Service employees received awards from Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation at its annual recognition ceremony.

Dr. Brandi Karisch, an associate Extension and research professor, was named the 2020 Farm Woman of the Year. This award honors Karisch as both a resource for Mississippi women in agriculture and an example of an accomplished woman in the field.

Trent Barnett, Extension agent in Calhoun County, received the 2020 Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Award for Extension Educators. Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation President Mike McCormick recognized Barnett for developing and implementing agricultural programs for farmers and ranchers in Mississippi. As part of this prestigious award, Barnett received $5,000 to sponsor additional research and programming.

A smiling man and a woman holding plaques stand several feet apart in front of a brick building.
Karisch and Barnett were recognized by the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation.


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Extension Matters cover volume 7 number 2.