Community Activities in Mississippi

As a study, one of our fundamental values is engaging with the spirited communities that we’ll visit. Check out some of our local community engagement efforts in Mississippi so far!



Mississippi Community Activities 2021

Visit to Hunters Chapel Missionary Baptist Church (August 2021)

The Mississippi State PI, Dr. Ervin Fox, and Community Advisory Board member, Dr. Tammy Taylor-Bufford, visited Hunters Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Como, Mississippi during Sunday Church Service on August 8th, 2021. They spoke to the congregation about the RURAL Study and the plans to visit Panola County in the near future.

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  • Visit to Hunters Chapel Missionary Baptist Church (August 2021)

  • Visit to Hunters Chapel Missionary Baptist Church (August 2021)

  • Visit to Hunters Chapel Missionary Baptist Church (August 2021)

Back-to-School Drive for the Crenshaw School District (August 2021)

During August 2021, Dr. Tammy Taylor-Bufford and Mrs. Jeanette Crenshaw worked with the MS Core on a back-to-school drive that brought community members together to help provide school materials to the students in the Crenshaw School District.

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  • Back-to-School Drive for the Crenshaw School District (August 2021)

  • Back-to-School Drive for the Crenshaw School District (August 2021)

  • Back-to-School Drive for the Crenshaw School District (August 2021)

National Night Out Community-Police Awareness (August 2021)

Community Advisory Board members, Yulanda Haddix and Eileen Carr-Tabb, participated in National Night Out community-police awareness where the MS Core partnered with the event leaders to hand out back-to-school backpacks to children in the Oktibbeha community. The MS Core contributed several packs of notebooks, notepads, and other school supplies.

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  • National Night Out Community-Police Awareness (August 2021)

  • National Night Out Community-Police Awareness (August 2021)

  • National Night Out Community-Police Awareness (August 2021)

Panola County Rotary Club Meeting (July 2021)

Dr. Ervin Fox was invited to speak about the RURAL Study at the Panola County Rotary Club meeting on July 6th, 2021, by host Jeremy Mason, editor of the Panolian news outlet. Other attendees included Pastor Darrell Dixon, Pat Neal from the MSU Extension Office, Dr. Tammy Taylor-Buford and Dr. Eugenia Fox.

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  • Panola County Rotary Club Meeting (July 2021)

  • Panola County Rotary Club Meeting (July 2021)

Sardis District Baptist Association Meeting (July 2021)

Community Advisory Board member, Reverend Louis Wilson, invited Dr. Ervin Fox to speak about the RURAL Study during the community update session of the Sardis District Baptist Association Meeting on July 6th, 2021. The meeting was held in Sardis, MS located in Panola County. Community Advisory Board members, Dr. Tammy Taylor-Bufford and Pat Neal, who is also with the Panola County Extension Service, assisted Dr. Fox with the talk along with his sister, Dr. Eugenia Fox, who lives in nearby Coahoma County.

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  • Sardis District Baptist Association Meeting (July 2021)

  • Sardis District Baptist Association Meeting (July 2021)

  • Sardis District Baptist Association Meeting (July 2021)

  • Sardis District Baptist Association Meeting (July 2021)

Men’s Health Month (June 2021 Virtual Event)

In collaboration with the Community Advisory Boards of Oktibbeha and Panola Counties, the MS Core held a series of short talks in recognition of Men’s Health Month (2021). Click the Facebook weblinks below to view the talks.

Heart Disease and Stroke in Men

Dr. Ervin Fox, UMMC (Introduction by Rev. Maurico Clark, Oktibbeha County)

COVID-19 and Heart Disease

Dr. Brad Deere, UMMC (Introduction by Rev. Darrell Dixon, Panola County)

Cancer Screening in Men

Dr. Amor Royer, UMMC (Introduction by Jeremy Weldon, Editor of The Panolian)

High Blood Pressure and Stroke Awareness in the COVID-19 Era and Beyond (May 2021 Virtual Event)

In recognition of High Blood Pressure Awareness Month (May 2021), the MS Core hosted a virtual conference, “High Blood Pressure and Stroke Awareness in the COVID-19 Era and Beyond.” The program was a partnership between the Community Advisory Boards (CABs) of Oktibbeha and Panola Counties, the Mississippi State Medical Association, the Mississippi chapter of the American Heart Association, and the Mississippi Rural Health Association. Dr. Sonja Fuqua moderated the program and speakers included the MSMA and AHA, Dr. Eva Ingram (Resident, UT Memphis), Dr. Latonya Washington (Internist, St. Francis Hospital and LeBonneur Hospital, Memphis), and a panel of community physicians. Speakers from the RURAL Study included Dr. Vasan Ramachandran, Dr. Ervin Fox, Dr. Felicia Caples and Dr. Frances Henderson. Click here to view a video of the virtual conference.

Heart Health in the COVID-19 Era and Beyond (February 2021 Virtual Event)

On Saturday, February 27th, 2021, the Oktibbeha and Panola Community Advisory Boards for the Mississippi Core of the RURAL Study presented its second annual event to bring awareness to heart health during February including a focus on increasing women’s heart health awareness. The planning Committee, comprised of members of both Community Advisory Boards and MS Core staff, decided on a theme that would also include COVID-19: “Heart Health in the COVID-19 Era and Beyond.”

The virtual event began with Welcome Messages from the American Heart Association and Mississippi State Medical Association. Dr. Vasan Ramachandran also welcomed participants and provided a brief overview of RURAL in community-friendly language. Following Dr. Fox’s overview of the activities of the MS Core, two Mayors who are CAB members provided their views of the potential impact of the RURAL Study in their respective communities. Dr. Mercedes Carnethon provided valuable information on COVID-19 and the vaccines; Dr. Kelly Wingerter informed participants about COVID-19 and Women’s Heart Health. Following the presentations by the guest speakers, a panel of local physicians and nurse practitioners joined the guest speakers in responding to audience questions. The event was presented virtually on both Zoom and Facebook Live. Participants were invited to wear red and to post selected pictures on Facebook. According to the last tally there were more than 400 views of the program on Facebook. You can watch a recording of the event on Facebook here.

*Dr. Mercedes Carnethon is the Mary Harris Thompson Professor and Vice Chair of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine.

*Dr. Kelly Wingerter is Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, University of Mississippi Medical Center.


Mississippi Community Activities 2020

Oktibbeha County Juneteenth Celebration (June 2020)

The 2020 Juneteenth Celebration in Oktibbeha County was held at JL King Park in Starkville, MS. The celebration was led by Yulanda Haddix, a member of the Community Advisory Board, and supported by the NAACP. Attendees included community members, Community Advisory Board members from The RURAL Study, the Mayor of Starkville, the Starkville Chief of Police and leadership from Mississippi State University.

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  • Juneteeneth Celebration in Oktibbeha County (June 2020)

  • Juneteeneth Celebration in Oktibbeha County (June 2020)

  • Juneteeneth Celebration in Oktibbeha County (June 2020)

Go Red Women’s Heart Health Forum in Oktibbeha and Panola Counties (February 2020)

Coming out of the December 2019 Community Advisory Board meeting in Oktibbeha County, was an idea posed by member Jacqueline Ellis to have a Go Red event in the county to educate the community about women’s heart health and introduce the Community Advisory Board. When presented to Panola County members, they also felt that it was an excellent idea. The Go Red event was a big success in both counties, and we look forward to working with all the Community Advisory Board members in future events.

Go Red Heart Health Forum in Oktibbeha County (February 2020)

The event was held on February 22nd, 2020 at the First United Methodist Church Christian Life Center. Mayor Spruill, Mayor Pruitt and Supervisor Orlando Trainer gave the welcome. Jacqueline Ellis gave the purpose of the event. Ms Yulanda Haddix introduced the speaker and Dr. Ervin Fox spoke on women’s heart health and the Go Red initiative. Dr. Emily Landrum introduced Dr. Frances Henderson and Dr. Felicia Caples. Dr. Frances Henderson gave a background of the RURAL Study, and Dr. Felicia Caples and Dr. Frances Henderson introduced the Community Advisory Board members. Ms. Erica Owens commented on the benefits of the RURAL Study to the county. Ms. Eileen Carr-Tabb and Ms. Ann Sansing guided the question-and-answer session. Finally, the prayer prior to serving lunch was given by Reverend Maurico Clark. Jacqueline Ellis gave closing remarks.

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  • Table setup for Go Red event

    Go Red Heart Health Forum in Oktibbeha County (February 2020)

  • RURAL Cohort Study banner

    Go Red Heart Health Forum in Oktibbeha County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Oktibbeha County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Oktibbeha County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Oktibbeha County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Oktibbeha County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Oktibbeha County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Oktibbeha County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Oktibbeha County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Oktibbeha County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Oktibbeha County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Oktibbeha County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Oktibbeha County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Oktibbeha County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Oktibbeha County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Oktibbeha County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Oktibbeha County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Oktibbeha County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Oktibbeha County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Oktibbeha County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Oktibbeha County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Oktibbeha County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Oktibbeha County (February 2020)

Sponsors for the event:

The Education Association of East Oktibbeha County Schools (EAEOCS), the First United Methodist Church, the OCH Regional Medical Center, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Mississippi State University Extension Services, University of Mississippi Medical Center/University Heart

Go Red Heart Health Forum in Panola County (February 2020)

The event was held on February 29, 2020 at the Batesville Lion’s Club. The welcome was given by Mayor Lula Palmer. Dr. Tammy Taylor spoke on women’s heart health and the Go Red initiative. Dr. Kristie Alvarez introduced the Mississippi Core PI, Dr. Ervin Fox. Dr. Fox gave a background of the RURAL Study. Dr. Felicia Caples and Dr. Frances Henderson introduced the community advisory board members. Dr Sonja Fuqua commented on the benefits of the study to the county. Ms. Pat Neal and Ms. Akachi Agor guided the question-and-answer session. Finally, the prayer prior to serving lunch was given by Reverend Darryl Dixon. Tammy Taylor led door prize give-aways.

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  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Panola County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Panola County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Panola County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Panola County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Panola County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Panola County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Panola County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Panola County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Panola County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Panola County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Panola County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Panola County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Panola County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Panola County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Panola County (February 2020)

  • Go Red Heart Health Forum in Panola County (February 2020)

Sponsors for the event:

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. Upsilon Iota Omega Chapter, Day by Day Health and Wellness Center, Delta Cardiovascular Center, First Security Bank, Heavvy Hitter Construction, LLC, Jarva’s Jewelry and Fashion Boutique, MSU Extension Services, NAACP Panola County, North Panola County Resource Development Avant, Panola County Juneteenth, Panola Medical Center, Partee’s Barber and Style Shop, Piggly Wiggly, Ms Annie Rice, Mr. Arrece Webb, Mr. Wady Watters


Mississippi Community Activities 2018-2019

Panola County Activities

Community engagement activities in Panola County included hosting a focus group in early 2018, holding two county stakeholder meetings, participating in a Juneteenth Celebration in Sardis, MS, visiting the Ministerial Alliance for the Church of God hosted by Brother Raymond, visit to Panola Medical Center (Mr. Quinton Whitwell, CEO and Mr. Chris Ware, COO) as a potential site for the mobile exam unit during the exam phase of the study and formation of the Community Advisory Board and resource support group for Panola County.

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  • Juneteenth Celebration in Panola County (June 2019)

  • Juneteenth Celebration in Panola County (June 2019)

  • Juneteenth Celebration in Panola County (June 2019)

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  • Panola County First Stakeholder Meeting (May 2019)

  • Panola County First Stakeholder Meeting (May 2019)

  • Panola County First Stakeholder Meeting (May 2019)

  • Panola County First Stakeholder Meeting (May 2019)

  • Panola County Second Stakeholder Meeting (July 2019)

  • Panola County Second Stakeholder Meeting (July 2019)

  • Panola County Second Stakeholder Meeting (July 2019)

Oktibbeha County Activities

Community engagement activities in Oktibbeha County included hosting a focus group in early 2018, holding two county stakeholder meetings, participating in two Juneteenth Celebrations in Starkville, MS, conferencing in with the Baptist Ministerial Alliance hosted by Reverend James Covington, visiting OCH Regional Medical Center (Mr. Joe Jackson, Dr. Todd Smith – CEO and CMO respectively) as a potential site for the mobile exam unit during the exam phase of the study, visiting local physician offices (Dr. Lee Brandon, Dr. Emily Landrum, Dr. Josh Black, Dr. Jack Hollister and Dr. Drew Anthony), and formation of the Community Advisory Board and resource support group for Oktibbeha County.

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  • Starkville Day in Oktibbeha County (October 2019)

  • Starkville Day in Oktibbeha County (October 2019)

  • Starkville Day in Oktibbeha County (October 2019)

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  • Heart Walk and Health Fair in Oktibbeha County (August 2019)

  • Heart Walk and Health Fair in Oktibbeha County (August 2019)

  • Heart Walk and Health Fair in Oktibbeha County (August 2019)

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  • Juneteeneth Celebration in Oktibbeha County (June 2019)

  • Juneteeneth Celebration in Oktibbeha County (June 2019)

  • Juneteeneth Celebration in Oktibbeha County (June 2019)

  • Juneteeneth Celebration in Oktibbeha County (June 2019)

  • Juneteeneth Celebration in Oktibbeha County (June 2019)

  • Juneteeneth Celebration in Oktibbeha County (June 2019)


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  • Oktibbeha County First Stakeholder Meeting (May 2019)

  • Oktibbeha County Second Stakeholder Meeting (July 2019)

  • Oktibbeha County Second Stakeholder Meeting (July 2019)

  • Oktibbeha County Second Stakeholder Meeting (July 2019)


Mississippi Community Advisory Boards and Resource Support Groups


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  • Oktibbeha County First Community Advisory Board Meeting (October 2019)

  • Oktibbeha County First Community Advisory Board Meeting (October 2019)

  • Oktibbeha County First Community Advisory Board Meeting (October 2019)

  • Oktibbeha County First Community Advisory Board Meeting (October 2019)

Interesting Fact: Dr. Fox’s mother, Eva Mae Fox (maiden name Rice), was a native of Oktibbeha County He has an aunt Martha (at age 95 years) living in the county. Several of his cousins continue to live in that area as well. He and his siblings attended Mississippi State University and go back to Starkville often for family reunions. Also interestingly, Dr. Fox and his family grew up in the Mississippi Delta region (Clarksdale, MS/ Coahoma County). Clarksdale lies very near to Batesville, MS/Panola County. He traveled through Batesville as he and his family went to Oxford (Ole Miss Campus) throughout the 80’s. Dr. Fox often visits Batesville on his visit to his childhood home in Clarksdale and to visit family in Memphis, TN. Dr. Fox’s sister (Dr. Eugenia Fox), brother (Dr. Edwin Fox) and niece (Dr. Eva Ingram) have assisted on community activities in Panola County.


Additional Information

The RURAL Study will kick-off in Oktibbeha County, Mississippi in 2022. The Study will also visit Panola County.

Check out the RURAL Study in Mississippi’s Facebook page.

Click here to learn more about the RURAL Study’s Mississippi Team!

To learn more about the participant experience in the RURAL Study, visit the Study Participants webpage.

If you have any questions or comments, please call the RURAL Study – Mississippi State Core at (601) 815-5697 or email fcaples@umc.edu