County agent Tim Needham calls it a career

RIPLEY – Long-time Tippah County Extension Agent Tim Needham, who retired at the end of June, was recognized for his years of outstanding service Tuesday afternoon at the Program Hall at the Tippah County Fairgrounds. He served as the Tippah County Director for the Mississippi State University Extension Service since January, 1996, replacing Ricky Ferguson, who is now the County Agent in Pontotoc. Before that, Needham was an agricultural teacher at Potts Camp School for 14 years, starting there right after graduating from Mississippi State University. Including unused leave time, he retired with a total of 28.5 years in state service. A crowd of co-workers, other friends, and county officials were on hand at the 1-3 p.m. drop-in program. Needham, 50, was presented a resolution of appreciation by Tippah County Board of Supervisors President Jimmy Gunn, who has known him for many years. Said Gunn this week, “Tim’s done a great job, and we’re going to miss him.” Gunn and Needham, who is a Benton County native, go back a long ways – “We graduated college (Mississippi State) about the same time,” Gunn recalled. He added of Needham: “He’s a great guy and a hard worker. His main interest was helping people and serving Tippah County, and he did a great job doing both.” Needham’s job as County Agent was “more or less to disseminate information pertaining to agriculture, and assisting people in the county with any problems they may have,” he said this week. Needham said this week he retired because he had the opportunity to work less hours and still draw his retirement. “No more meetings at night and not many days on Saturday. I just felt it was time for me to step down and allow someone with fresh ideas to continue to provide education to the great folks of Tippah County. “I hope I’m leaving the office in better shape for the incoming agent, whoever it may be,” he said. “I want to thank the people of Tippah County for allowing me to work for them. It’s been my pleasure. “I’d like to thank the Extension office staff for putting up with me all these years. I’d also like to express my thanks to the TCDC clubs, as well as the cattlemen’s groups, forestry association and Master Gardener clubs who all made work a lot easier for me,” he said. “What I enjoyed most about being County Agent was that I could get out and actually talk to people and assist them with their problems. I like mingling with the crowd – I’m more of a people person. “About 60 percent of my job was answering homeowner questions about gardens and lawns or identifying weeds. I also helped farmers with crop problems. The most frequent ones were insect ID and control and disease problems,” he said. He also worked closely with all of the nurseries in the county and surrounding counties. He spent years diagnosing sick ducks, ailing fish, and being asked to determine what killed plants and how to stop it. His most unusual case? “One night we were eating supper at the house, when a gentleman brought a five gallon bucket of dead baby pigs and wanted to know what had killed them. It turned out the sow had a reproductive disease called leptospirosis, which caused her to abort before she gave birth.” Needham’s replacement will be appointed by the state Extension Service. It’s unclear when the new County Agent will be named. There is no interim director, Gunn said. Needham said this week his retirement time will be filled by working part time at the Tippah County Co-Op, as well as doing some fishing, golfing and metal-detecting. “Aging is mandatory, but growing old is optional. I’m looking forward to helping people at the Co-Op. I like to say I moved across the street, not across the county.” Needham and his wife, Pam, who is a business and office technology instructor at Northeast Mississippi Community college, have two grown children: A son, Brad, works at Tippah County Hospital, and daughter Sarah Knight is completing her pharmacy studies at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. Joked Needham, “My wife has a bumper sticker about ‘A house divided,” with Mississippi State on one side of it and Ole Miss on the other. When I think about Sarah, well, I guess Mississippi State paid me to give the money to Ole Miss.” Tuesday afternoon at the Program Hall at the Tippah County Fairgrounds. He served as the Tippah County Director for the Mississippi State University Extension Service since January, 1996, replacing Ricky Ferguson, who is now the County Agent in Pontotoc. Before that, Needham was an agricultural teacher at Potts Camp School for 14 years, starting there right after graduating from Mississippi State University. Including unused leave time, he retired with a total of 28.5 years in state service. A crowd of co-workers, other friends, and county officials were on hand at the 1-3 p.m. drop-in program. Needham, 50, was presented a resolution of appreciation by Tippah County Board of Supervisors President Jimmy Gunn, who has known him for many years. Said Gunn this week, “Tim’s done a great job, and we’re going to miss him.” Gunn and Needham, who is a Benton County native, go back a long ways – “We graduated college (Mississippi State) about the same time,” Gunn recalled. He added of Needham: “He’s a great guy and a hard worker. His main interest was helping people and serving Tippah County, and he did a great job doing both.” Needham’s job as County Agent was “more or less to disseminate information pertaining to agriculture, and assisting people in the county with any problems they may have,” he said this week. Needham said this week he retired because he had the opportunity to work less hours and still draw his retirement. “No more meetings at night and not many days on Saturday. I just felt it was time for me to step down and allow someone with fresh ideas to continue to provide education to the great folks of Tippah County. “I hope I’m leaving the office in better shape for the incoming agent, whoever it may be,” he said. “I want to thank the people of Tippah County for allowing me to work for them. It’s been my pleasure. “I’d like to thank the Extension office staff for putting up with me all these years. I’d also like to express my thanks to the TCDC clubs, as well as the cattlemen’s groups, forestry association and Master Gardener clubs who all made work a lot easier for me,” he said. “What I enjoyed most about being County Agent was that I could get out and actually talk to people and assist them with their problems. I like mingling with the crowd – I’m more of a people person. “About 60 percent of my job was answering homeowner questions about gardens and lawns or identifying weeds. I also helped farmers with crop problems. The most frequent ones were insect ID and control and disease problems,” he said. He also worked closely with all of the nurseries in the county and surrounding counties. He spent years diagnosing sick ducks, ailing fish, and being asked to determine what killed plants and how to stop it. His most unusual case? “One night we were eating supper at the house, when a gentleman brought a five gallon bucket of dead baby pigs and wanted to know what had killed them. It turned out the sow had a reproductive disease called leptospirosis, which caused her to abort before she gave birth.” Needham’s replacement will be appointed by the state Extension Service. It’s unclear when the new County Agent will be named. There is no interim director, Gunn said. Needham said this week his retirement time will be filled by working part time at the Tippah County Co-Op, as well as doing some fishing, golfing and metal-detecting. “Aging is mandatory, but growing old is optional. I’m looking forward to helping people at the Co-Op. I like to say I moved across the street, not across the county.” Needham and his wife, Pam, who is a business and office technology instructor at Northeast Mississippi Community college, have two grown children: A son, Brad, works at Tippah County Hospital, and daughter Sarah Knight is completing her pharmacy studies at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. Joked Needham, “My wife has a bumper sticker about ‘A house divided,” with Mississippi State on one side of it and Ole Miss on the other. When I think about Sarah, well, I guess Mississippi State paid me to give the money to Ole Miss.”

Southern Sentinel