Cummings and Goings in Agriculture

Fielder’s Willingness To Help Will Be Missed

By Steve Cummings

Yalobusha County’s young people never cease to amaze me and this past weekend was no exception. The State 4-H shooting sports competition was in Jackson, and Alec Calder competed in the archery competition.

After the first day’s competition, Alec was in position as a contender. He finished the state archery competition in fifth place. That put him in contention to be a member of Mississippi’s State 4-H Archery Team, which will compete in the National 4-H Archery contest in San Antonio, Tex., next summer.

Alec is awaiting the invitation to be on the state team, and we think it will come soon.  Congratulations to Alec and special thanks to Yalobusha County’s shooting sports coach, Tony Carmichael.  Tony helped prepare Alec and attended the state competitions with him.

Meanwhile, I got the chance to attend the Miss Mississippi Preliminary Pageant in Vicksburg last Friday night. I attended the pageant to see and support eight year-old Mackenzie Bailey.  

Mackenzie was in the pageant as princess for Miss Northridge Stephanie Standford and performed in two of the production numbers.  Mackenzie was just great.  She danced and sang her heart out and was so pretty that she got plenty of TV coverage on Saturday nights’ final broadcast.  

Even though not a contestant, Mackenzie was the first Yalobusha County native to be in the Miss Mississippi pageant since Jennifer Sartain Dean and perhaps the last Coffeeville native, Donna Harbour Johnson.

Earlier this week, the Yalobusha County Extension office finally got the opportunity to host a retirement reception for our former 4-H Program Assistant, Christine Fielder.  

Christine retired at the end of February and, as most of you know, has had severe health problems since last December.  Finally, Christine was able to enjoy a party, and enjoy she did, as people from all over attended her party.  

Christine has been the one constant person in my 29 years of employment with the Yalobusha County Extension Service.  Christine may have been one of the first 4-H volunteers that I recruited. Her sons, Art and Mark, went on to compete in various local, district, state, and national 4-H contests. When Mark became too old to compete in 4-H, we hired Christine as our 4-H Program Assistant.

While Christine served 17 years as our 4-H Program Assistant, it did not take long for the State 4-H Office to realize her talents. Christine was in demand for district and state activities partly due to her training as an EMT, but mainly due to her personality and willingness to help.  Christine quickly became known throughout Mississippi. She touched not only hundreds of young people in Yalobusha County, but also hundreds across the state. Not only was Christine a 4-H Program Assistant, she was a total Extension employee. She was involved in the forestry, beef, homemaker, and other programs in Yalobusha County.

This newspaper could not hold all of the stories I could tell about Christine Fielder. All of the 4-H trips, especially the regional 4-H horse shows, come to mind. Christine was always a good sport. She even once chauffeured Kevin Kimzey, Coley Little Bailey, Floyd Holland, and myself to the Northeast Research and Extension Center Advisory Committee meeting in Tupelo. There are so many things that I could list and maybe many I shouldn’t, but for the most part, Christine and I had a large time working for the Mississippi State University Extension Service.  

Christine will be missed as a co-worker, but she is slowly coming back as a volunteer.  Her grandchildren are now getting involved in 4-H. Christine was a great co-worker, but more importantly, she was and still is a very good friend. I choose not to think of Christine Fielder as retiring from the Extension Service, but rather as returning to be a 4-H volunteer. I am sure there will be a lot more memories to come.

Never would I have thought I would write a column pertaining to Alec Calder, Mackenzie Bailey, and Christine Fielder all in one, but I just did. This job for the most part is fun and has provided me the opportunity to meet and work with many incredible people.

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