Heavy Equipment Operator
Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station
Delta Research & Extension Center
Years in Position: 4
Years of Service to MSU: 4
Leland native Randy Phillips wanted a change from the boating and natural gas industries, and found it at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville.
As a heavy equipment operator, Randy performs a variety of tasks vital to the smooth operation of the research projects conducted at the station. Randy performs road maintenance and ensures that all culverts are in good working order. He repairs or replaces any that are damaged. He is also heavily involved in field operations during the planting and harvesting of a wide variety of crops. He helps install poly pipe for irrigation, and is involved in equipment maintenance at the shop.
Randy enjoys the range of tasks he gets to perform in his work.
“I like it all,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate that many of the more experienced employees have handed down a lot of information which I use on a daily basis.”
One of things Randy likes is doing a job correctly the first time.
“This work ethic takes a lot of self-discipline, but it helps me do a better job,” he explained.
Randy is a former Golden Gloves champion, and enjoys refereeing and judging boxing events. He also spends as much time as he can with his 12-year-old grandson, Bailey. They especially enjoy going fishing together.
Randy has been married to Sandra K. for 36 years and has two daughters, Nikki Carol and Beth Flynn.
Extension Agent III
MSU Extension Service
Years in Position: 2 years
Years of Service to MSU: 2 years
When Keith Whitehead graduated from Mississippi State in 1982, he didn’t know he would end up having a second career at his alma mater.
Keith took a job with the Louisiana State University Ag Center and spent 30 years working at research stations.
“I was a research associate and got a master’s degree while I was working at LSU,” Keith said. “My first focus was row crops, and I managed operations on a station just south of campus for about 20 years. During that time, I also started working with pasture management.”
As Keith’s parents aged, he wanted to get closer to home, so he moved to a research station in Clinton, Louisiana, where he worked with aquatic weed control and pasture management.
But when the Extension agent position opened in Franklin County, where he grew up, Keith knew he had to apply.
Since he took the job as an Extension agent in agriculture and natural resources with 4-H responsibilities, he and the Franklin County team have started a 4-H Shooting Sports club, which is already up to 50 members. He said participation in livestock projects has also increased.
“I love this job,” he said. “I like going into the field and helping producers with problems. I love working with 4-H. Extension has always been a service organization, and I like helping people. I always have.”
Keith’s Franklin County roots contribute to his enthusiasm for his work.
“My grandfather had dairy and beef cattle here,” he said. “My great-grandfather never had a tractor -- he always had a mule -- and he grew cotton and sweet potatoes in addition to a large garden. My family was deeply embedded in agriculture as I was growing up.”
When he has time, Keith loves to hunt and fish. He and his wife Stacy have been married 17 years and have two daughters, Molly (14) and Katie (13).