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MSU Extension prepares 4-H scholarship campaign
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Harry Martin helped create the blueprint for major industrial and economic development in Lee County, and now he is laying another foundation for something big -- this time for a Mississippi 4-H statewide scholarship campaign.
Martin partnered with the Mississippi State University Extension Center for 4-H Youth Development to establish the Harry Martin 4-H Youth Leadership Endowed Scholarship. His support was recognized Sept. 11, when he was presented a commemorative football during the game between MSU and North Carolina State University.
MSU Extension and the MSU Foundation are introducing a fundraising campaign to create an endowed scholarship for each of the state’s 82 counties for 4-H’ers who plan to attend MSU. A gradual rollout of the program will begin in 2022.
While Martin committed more than the required $25,000 minimum to endow the scholarship for Lee County, anyone will be able to donate online to endowments for other counties once the campaign is launched.
Martin himself was the beneficiary of a 4-H scholarship. He enrolled at what was then Mississippi State College in 1942 as a 16-year-old and graduated six years later with a degree in agricultural administration after serving in World War II.
After a stint as an assistant Extension agent in Lee County, Martin was named head of the Community Development Foundation, the economic development organization for Tupelo and Lee County, in 1956. During his 43 years at the helm of CDF, 226 manufacturing plants located there, and the organization’s budget grew from $40,000 to $1 million upon his retirement in 2000.
Each year, Martin’s scholarship will be awarded to a 4-H member from Lee County or a contiguous county. The student must be enrolled in the MSU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences or College of Forest Resources.
“The setup will be similar to a GoFundMe where you can go donate to whatever county you choose,” said Linda Mitchell, interim head of the center and Extension coordinator for the northeast region. “You can donate a dollar here or $10 there. You won’t need large amounts of money to participate, and it will be opened up for past 4-H members, club leaders and volunteer leaders. It’s a great opportunity for everyone to participate and support 4-H.”
Mitchell said she was encouraged to hear of interest in the new scholarship program even before its official launch.
“I have spoken to a lot of people already, especially the 4-H’ers, who want to give back and donate, so they can feel like they are helping younger 4-H’ers like people helped them,” she said. “Even though this is still being finalized, I’ve already had several people tell me they want to donate because it’s something they can do now.”
Martin said his experience in 4-H and as an MSU student were instrumental in his eventual success steering industry to northeast Mississippi.
“My pipeline to Mississippi State was through my 4-H activities. The people at the university that admitted me stayed with me and directed me down a course to a job where I helped Lee County become the No. 1 industrial county in the state,” he said. “I hope this scholarship will help another student with that kind of potential finish school the way my scholarship helped me.”