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Leaving a Lasting Legacy

Former Simpson County 4-H’er highlights Extension agent’s legacy

Story by Leah Barbour • Photo by Kevin Hudson

Children notice everything, and they remember. When children watch a man use his personal resources and take extra time just for them, when they listen to his words of encouragement through disappointments and triumphs, and when they watch him demonstrate boundless patience whatever the circumstance, those children remember.

For a group of kids who participated in Simpson County 4-H between 1992 and 2002, Doug Carter was that man.

During his decade as the Mississippi State University Extension Service agent in Simpson County, Carter saw supervising the 4-H youth development program as just another part of the job. However, as former 4-H’ers now recall his influence, he’s getting the chance to celebrate the difference he made in their lives.

Amanda Layton-Berry is now an adult, and the former Simpson County 4-H’er is celebrating Carter’s legacy of patience, diligence, and encouragement. And she wants him to know it before he retires; Carter has been the agricultural and natural resources agent in Rankin County since 2007.

“Doug loved his job and loved his 4-H’ers,” Layton-Berry explains. “He made an effort to be there for all the kids, and he definitely went beyond the call of his title. Doug was an amazing 4-H agent who was there for anybody in the county. No, not just the county; he was there, coordinating and working for whoever needed him.”

She remembers the first time she participated in a 4-H Project Achievement Day, a daylong competition when 4-H’ers showcase their project work. “I was shy and nervous, but Doug was there, encouraging me. He told me I could do it again next year and just made that effort to be there for me, for all the kids. I was so shy, so nervous, but Doug gave me confidence,” she remembers. “He was there for all of us.”

An MSU alum in agricultural Extension education, Carter was the “everything agent” in Simpson County, so working with and teaching 4-H’ers was just another part of the job.

“I watched over the kids,” he says. “I was the guy who came out to look at 4-H’ers’ animals. I had a regular Chevy cab truck, and I hauled animals. I picked up kids from livestock judging practice; I’d pick them up at school. I chaperoned trips to Washington, D.C., and even took them to Kansas for the National Meat Judging Contest. I took kids to Mississippi State for 4-H Club Congress. When they got away from home and came to campus, it expanded their horizons so much.

“4-H gives kids a chance to learn, explore, and fail. And it’s a safe place to fail,” Carter continues. “I just did what it took. I knew they needed help getting around; they were too young for a driver’s license.”

Layton-Berry affirms that 4-H expanded her horizons and gave her confidence to stay on the farm, continuing the same kind of work and service she began as a child in 4-H.

“4-H means encouragement to me. Doug was always willing to find out what you were interested in, figure it out, and help you,” she emphasizes. “4-H taught me confidence, how to be a good person, and it’s a good overall program and teaches leadership. Most important, anything you want to do, you can do through 4-H.”

Learning and growing with Carter through 4-H built a strong foundation for Layton-Berry, now a licensed pharmacy technician with a growing family. 4-H is open to all Mississippi children through the local county Extension office.

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