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New extension agent focused on development

The youth of Lincoln County will soon have more options to participate in local 4-H activities thanks to new county 4-H extension agent Jennifer Williams.

Photo by Alex Jacks/Jennifer Williams has been hired to lead the 4-H programs in Lincoln County.

Photo by Alex Jacks/Jennifer Williams has been hired to lead the 4-H programs in Lincoln County.

Williams, who officially started her job Thursday, plans to expand the existing Lincoln County 4-H programs, while adding new ones along the way.

“I am extremely excited to be here in Lincoln County,” she said. “A big part of coming into Lincoln County is maintaining and continuing to grow the livestock program because that’s always been one of the larger 4-H programs. The county also has a lot of community-based programs I would like to expand. There are a lot of leadership and public speaking programs — it’s important to keep that momentum going.”

In addition to the livestock and leadership programs, Williams hopes to expand the shooting sports program and add a robotics program.

“Shooting sports in Lincoln County are starting to grow, so it’s important to keep that going,” she said. “I’m also looking to add a robotics program. We have some local teachers that are interested in incorporating the robotics program. Once we get settled with livestock, I will touch base with them to introduce robotics.”

Williams said in order to fulfill her plan of expanding the Lincoln County 4-H programs she will need to increase her volunteer participation.

“The biggest part when we look at expansion is volunteer development,” she said. “That’s really what I want to focus on. They’re our foundation for 4-H, and it’s just not possible without them, so I want to look into providing programing and training to recruit and maintain our volunteers.”

Williams, a Hinds County native, graduated from Mississippi State University with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Information Science in 2011 and a Masters of Science in Agriculture Extension Education in 2014.

“I grew up showing livestock and horses in 4-H, and it was actually my 4-H extension coordinator in Hinds County who encouraged me to look into extension education,” she said.

Williams was stationed in Lincoln County as worker for the Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center for several months following her undergraduate graduation.

“I was hired in Webster County in November of 2011, and that’s where I officially started my career as an extension agent,” she said. “But during my brief time in Lincoln County, I fell in love with the area and people, which is one of the reasons I chose to come back.”

The biggest value Williams hopes to bring to the youth of Lincoln County through 4-H is opportunities to grow and learn.

“I think 4-H provides a lot of leadership opportunities for our youth,” she said. “It gives them the ability to become involved in their communities, and grow as young adults. They learn a lot about responsibility — whether they’re involved in livestock and they’re responsible for those animals, or whether their project is robotics and they’re just responsible for not letting their team members down. They have more opportunities when we start looking at scholarships and finding that funding to further their education.”

Williams fills the role of Lincoln County’s 4-H extension agent almost six months after the previous 4-H agent left the county.