Captain Scott Edwards, a chaplain in the Mississippi Army National Guard, has a special calling—one of service to troops and wildlife professionals alike. The proud Mississippi State Bulldog is also an Extension instructor with MSU’s National Training Academy, which additionally is aligned with USDA Wildlife Services.
Edwards balances both careers with steadfast discipline and grace. Part of the 106th Brigade Support Battalion within the 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team, he provides religious support for approximately 500 soldiers.
Edwards’ MSU roots run deep. He earned his bachelor’s in forestry in 2001 and master’s in wildlife science in 2004 from the College of Forest Resources. He worked as a biologist with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, another MSU partner, with an office in Thompson Hall until he transitioned to his position with NTA.
“Managing two careers can be extremely challenging at times, but MSU has always provided me the time and support needed to excel in both professions,” he said. “I am also grateful for the way that MSU continually honors our servicemen and women. It is an honor to wear Army Green and Maroon and White.”
“I love helping soldiers navigate life’s challenges and am honored to preach the Gospel and lead soldiers in worship. As a minister in uniform, my goal is to encourage soldiers to grow in their relationship with God,” he said.
While Edwards is an ordained Baptist minister, his role is to provide religious support for all soldiers. This includes helping soldiers attend Catholic Mass, Jewish Passover Service, and more with fellow servicemembers.
“My job is to guard the first amendment rights of all soldiers—the free exercise of religion—and with that I have the same freedom of religion, too,” he explained.
In 2020, Edwards served as one of three COVID-19 Task Force chaplains for the Mississippi National Guard, covering Guard teams administering COVID testing and vaccines in North Mississippi. His last overseas deployment was to the Middle East as part of Operation Spartan Shield in 2018-19.
“My chapel services and sermons are nondenominational; I try to keep it general enough, so everyone gets something out of it. If we’re in the field and can’t congregate in large groups, I’ll organize brief worship at the company level. A large part of my role is also counseling soldiers one-on-one. I tailor my ministry to the situation and soldier,” he said.
As an Extension instructor for NTA, Edwards is part of a team tasked with safety training to all USDA Wildlife Services personnel on how to resolve human-wildlife conflicts. Since NTA’s founding in 2016, he has helped conduct more than 100 in-person trainings to more than 1,300 employees and administer online courses that reached 4,300 individuals.
“Helping biologists grow in their professional development brings me great satisfaction. My career goals have shifted from managing resources to serving people. That applies as a minister, too. I want to give people tools to adapt and excel—whether those tools are spiritual or professional.”
This Memorial Day, he encourages people to focus on the day’s true meaning.
“Americans enjoy a Memorial Day weekend filled with family and fun because countless Americans laid their lives down to preserve the freedoms that we hold dear. Memorial Day can be exceedingly difficult for soldiers who have lost close friends in combat. I encourage all of us to remember the reason for Memorial Day and honor the brave who have ensured that our great country remains the Land of the Free.”