Thomas Legiandenyi Nyatta

  • March 2022

Extension Agent 
MSU Extension Service
Oktibbeha County

Years in Position: 6 years
Years at MSU: 6 years

Thomas Nyatta knew he would love Extension work after completing his doctorate at Southern University A&M College. 

“While I was a post doc in Baton Rouge, I would share my research with farmers at field days,” he said. “I loved to explain my research to them and see how happy it made them. I knew I wanted that kind of job where I could help people understand these kinds of things and apply it in their lives.”

Shortly after that, he took a job with Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service where he spent three years. In 2016, he began working in his current position in Oktibbeha County where he is an ag and natural resources agent. Nyatta interacts with a variety of clients -- from farmers to homeowners to elementary school students.

He handles anything to do with agriculture and natural resources. One day he may be explaining a soil sample result for a home gardener or farmer and the next day working with Extension Master Gardeners at one of the projects they do together at the schools. 

“My job is to take scientific information and break it down where everyone can understand it,” Nyatta said.

Nyatta explained that he gets requests for help with all types of questions, including tree pruning and pests and disease issues with plants. One of his most memorable calls involved ridding a client of his nightmares.

“One day I got a call from a retired professor who was having recurring nightmares about a tree falling on his house as he slept,” he said. “If it was troubling him that much, it was a problem. So, I went out and visited him. 

“He had a huge pecan tree, and the limbs were hanging over the house. I explained to him how it should be pruned so that the weight of the crown is balanced, making it less of a fall hazard. He was in his 80s and not physically capable of that kind of task, so I made sure he had the information he needed to get a professional to handle it for him. 

“I later found out he had written a letter to the Extension director telling him how much he appreciated the help and advice. He told Dr. Jackson that he was happy about the great work that Extension does in the community. I was so glad that I could help ease his mind. I just said, ‘Wow.’”

For Nyatta, that is what Extension is about: helping people live better lives. And that includes introducing children to experiences and knowledge that helps them develop into productive citizens.

“I wish everyone knew how much Extension can offer, especially when it comes to 4-H,” he said. “We can make a great impact on children with all the programs we offer in 4-H, from shooting sports to junior master gardener. I wish we could go to the mountaintops and blow the trumpets.”

Being an Extension agent is satisfying work Nyatta said, and he encourages anyone who loves people and helping people to think about a career with Extension. 

“Volunteer to work with your local Extension office,” he said. “That is a good first step in figuring out if you like this kind of work.”

Nyatta’s wife Caroline Kobia is a professor at MSU. They have two sons, Mishael Wema and Aviel Baraka. In his spare time, Nyatta enjoys reading, fishing, walking, gardening, and tending to the animals they have, including dogs, cats, rabbits, and chickens.

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