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McCain steps away for next opportunity

Friday, Anna McCain will leave her desk in the Warren County Office of the Mississippi State University Extension Service for the last time.

McCain, the first woman to lead the extension service office here, is leaving Warren County for the Gluckstadt area following her husband taking a job in Kosciusko.

“It’s been a great experience, and I’ve been very fortunate to meet all our extension clients, and everyone else I’ve had the chance to meet over the last couple of years here with the extension service,” she said.

“I’ve had nothing but positive experiences. Everyone was very welcoming, and it gave me a great opportunity to use my education in horticulture and agriculture to hopefully help the citizens of Warren County.”

McCain, who has a degree in horticulture from Mississippi State, was working at the Extension Service Truck Crops Experiment Station in Crystal Springs.

“My husband and I were living in Madison at the time,” she said. “My husband worked for Entergy here at the Baxter Wilson Power Plant, so I was commuting to Crystal Springs, and he was commuting to Vicksburg.”

Her appointment as county agent here, she said, gave them an opportunity to move to the same place where they worked, “Which was a great thing for us, because we really had more time to engage in our community.”

“I hope the people think I was engaged. I made a lot of effort to do educational programs that could engage a lot of people, we did some lunch and learns at different businesses, tried to attend town hall meetings.”

Her goal when she came here as county agent, McCain said, “Was that I was not going to limit myself to only horticulture or only agriculture.”

“My job as an extension agent is to serve anyone who walks through the door, whether they’re looking for the driver’s license office or the courthouse, if it’s a tomato problem; maybe they need help making a family budget — that’s something our office helps with, too.”

McCain said the extension service’s primary areas are family and consumer science, agriculture and natural resources and community resource development and 4-H and youth development.

“When you think about those four program areas, just about anything can fall under those topics. We really try to be a diverse office where we are offering opportunities in all of our program areas.”

And the focus of the extension office is making sure the staff provides as many opportunities as it can to give people the opportunity to come here and learn about something they were interested in.

“We have our money mentors who provide budget counseling, we have quick bite opportunities where we learn about digestive systems and food and nutrition. We have Mississippi Homemaker volunteers where we learn about sewing, canning; everything that goes along with having a successful home.

“We really try to help and answer any kind of question or any kind of need that our clients have. We would go to Martin’s (at Midtown) and have specific topics that we covered, and people could come and ask questions. We did some horticulture workshops here at the extension office and include forestry and pruning and fruit trees.”

One thing she learned about the extension service, McCain said, was about pond management.

“I really enjoyed getting out in my waders and boots and pulling in a net in the field and looking at the different fish that are available and making recommendations for clients how they could improve their farms,” she said.

“A lot people try to manage their ponds so the homeowners can enjoy fishing, and we have a lot of people who have small lakes and ponds.”

McCain’s interest in horticulture and agriculture was developed growing up in Scott, a small community in Bolivar County north of Greenville, that is the headquarters for Delta & Pine Land Co., a cotton and soybean producer.

“Everything in the town is centered around that business,” she said. “In the summer as a teenager, I worked on their research and development team.

“ I really enjoyed the opportunities I had to be able to work with plant life and to really feel I was a part of something a little bit bigger than myself, because the work we did ultimately resulted in new varieties that could be grown all over the world. I really enjoyed that aspect of it; that I was part of a research team that could make a difference.

“There’s really something about seeing something start with a seed and come full circle.”

It was even more satisfying, she said, “When you’re able to help someone accomplish that mission and goal.”

Although she won’t be working for the extension service, McCain said she will be able to continue using her training working in the Gluckstadt area for Jackson-based Callaway’s Yard and Garden.

“I believe I’ll have some opportunities to do some of the same things I was doing here in Vicksburg; providing education and consultation for the customer that are coming in.”

One thing she will miss when she leaves Vicksburg is the people and the feeling of “home” that she and her husband had while living here.

“We have really felt we were at home here in Vicksburg,” she said.

“Being an extension agent working for the extension service, it really gives you the opportunity to know a wide variety of people some different backgrounds and cultures and beliefs and situations, so it was a great opportunity for me to meet a lot of people and I really enjoyed that part of my job.

“I think we’re very lucky that when we came to Vicksburg,” McCain said. “We really felt like we were a part of the community here, and we thought that was something very special; to be able to come into a place that you’re not from, and feel like it’s your home.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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