- August 2023
August 14, 2023, marked 29 years that Shelby Bearden has worked as an Extension agent with Mississippi State University. For the first two years of his career, Bearden served the Choctaw Indian Reservation. When the position opened in Copiah County, Bearden took the opportunity to work just one county over from where he grew up in Claiborne County.
“It’s the best. I didn’t think I’d ever move home, but it’s great to return to where you grew up,” said Bearden. “I really enjoy what I do—meeting producers and helping them troubleshoot problems. It's something new every day.”
In addition to being a resource to producers in Claiborne County, Bearden also works as the large producer sales coordinator for the state, which includes coordinating the Southern Producers Replacement Heifer Sale in Hattiesburg each year. He also assists with the Homeplace Feeder Calf Board Sale.
“This helps to maximize the profits for producers,” said Bearden.
Although Bearden didn’t participate in 4-H as a youth, he was introduced to Extension as a college student at Hinds Community College where he worked at a registered cattle operation. Working closely with the county agent, Bill Maily, made an impact on Bearden and formed his career trajectory.
“He [Bill] is kind of the reason I decided I wanted to be an Extension agent. Three decades later, he and I are really good friends and go on a hunting trip together every year,” said Bearden.
Bearden earned a degree in Ag Extension Education and a minor in Animal Science from Mississippi State University in 1994, and in 2002, he completed his master’s in Ag Extension Education.
Bearden enjoys the outdoors—hunting, fishing and has been involved in rodeo his whole life.