Whether to attend Mississippi State University was never a question for Mikayla Shelton.
“My mom went to school here, and we frequently visited the campus throughout my childhood and teenage years,” said Shelton, a senior and native of Bruce. “MSU has always been and will continue to be a home to me. The people, atmosphere, hospitality, generosity, opportunity, and the genuine concern for me and my goals is why I chose to come to school here.”
Shelton is an agricultural science major with a concentration in animal production and ag education, leadership and communications. Her field of study is largely influenced by her longtime involvement in 4-H, the youth development program of the MSU Extension Service. Shelton joined the program when she was 6 years old, and “the rest is history,” she said.
Because the 4-H program had such a positive impact on her life, Shelton said she hopes to work with young people in the future, maybe even through the Extension Service.
“My 4-H agent Trent Barnett did an outstanding job, and I want to do something along the same lines when I graduate,” she said. “I want to be able to inspire the youth of today to change the world of tomorrow.
“I want to influence children in a way that makes them understand and appreciate the things we take for granted daily. Without agriculture, where would our food products, clothing and various other day-to-day necessities come from? This is the reason I chose a concentration area in ag education, leadership and communications.”
Her main 4-H project was livestock showing, but she also participated in several other clubs offered in her county, including Kids in the Kitchen and A Stitch in Time Sewing Club. She was a member of the Junior Advisory Council, serving as state secretary in 2018. She served on Mississippi’s first 4-H Skill-A-Thon team in 2017 and competed in the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky, where the team won several national titles.
“At the end of the day, 4-H was family,” Shelton said. “I learned several life skills and lessons that I will use the rest of my life. My experiences in 4-H are some of my fondest memories.”
In addition to her 20-hour course load and her student job with the Extension Office of Agricultural Communications, Shelton is active in the MSU community and her hometown. She is an ambassador for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, a member of Ag Communicators of Tomorrow and a member of the Mississippi Collegiate Cattlemen. Back home, she is a member of the Mississippi Federation of Women’s Clubs, serving in leadership roles with the volunteer organization.
“Needless to say, I have little to no spare time,” Shelton said. “But I am grateful for all the experiences and opportunities I have been given to network and gain relationships that I’ll have well beyond graduation.”