Port Gibson native new Extension boss

Published 11:59 pm Friday, April 8, 2011

A Port Gibson native and Porters Chapel Academy graduate has taken the reins at the Warren County Extension Service.

Wesley Purvis moved into the Grove Street office about a week ago and into a position that has been vacant since former director John Coccaro retired July 1, 2010, after more than 20 years in the Extension system.

Purvis said he’s eager to start “building relationships.”

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“As director, I’ll be the middle man between the people of Warren County and Mississippi State University, especially when it comes to agriculture and natural resources,” said Purvis, 26, a 2003 graduate of PCA. “I grew up on a cattle farm, so agriculture is all I really knew.”

Purvis will draw from that knowledge — and his bachelor’s degree in animal and dairy science from MSU — to address questions ranging from grass problems to cattle control.

“Wesley has a very diverse agricultural background and strong leadership skills,” said Dr. Steven Dicke, director of the southwest region of the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “He is a well-polished young man who I believe will grow into the position nicely.”

Purvis applied for the job in December and was interviewed by a selection committee.

“It was a relief to find out I got the job,” he said. “Before this, I worked for three years in West Point at Prairie Livestock as an assistant manager of a conditioning yard. It was a good job — but this is a career.”

Dicke expressed a similar excitement.

“People started calling me the day John Coccaro retired, asking who was going to take his place,” he said. “It feels good to have that hole filled. It took nine months to do it, but we did.”

Purvis will have a mentor to help him acclimate into the job.

Transitions will occur outside of the office as well. He and his wife, Meredith, are in the process of moving to Vicksburg.

“It’s going to take some time to get into the full swing of things,” he said, “but I’m excited for the future.”

The Warren County Extension Service is part of the Mississippi State University Extension Service. The statewide agency and its local counterparts offer advice and programs in agriculture and natural resources and family and consumer issues. It also oversees the 4-H youth program.