Welcome to the first edition of the MS Women for Ag newsletter!
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Dear friends of Mississippi Women for Agriculture.

This is our first newsletter since I was elected President of Mississippi Women for Agriculture on March 4, 2016. I want to take this opportunity to share my story with all of you. I am married to Hugh Leigh Mathews III and I am the mother of two wonderful sons, Marc and Jared Mathews. I am also Gigi to six grandchildren. That pretty mare on our website is Mathews Lightning, and I raised her and her mother who is 27, they are both still giving life lessons to my students. They are registered Paint Horses. I also worked 20 years for the USPS—to support my horse business. My husband worked 17 years for the USPS until gout arthritis forced his retirement three years ago. He also farmed and raised hay and oats for my business. In 2000 I had to retire as a rural mail carrier when I went blind due to Grave’s Eye disease. By the “Amazing Grace” of God and good doctors, I retrieved most of my sight after three surgeries.

I became interested in Farm Bureau as the “farmers voice” and helped start the Equine Commodity which I chaired for 4 years. Farm Bureau magazine carried an article about an Annie’s Project planned for Mississippi through Mississippi State. I signed up and learned about my personality, my personal tolerance for risk, and networking with other women. I even spoke at several meetings as a program graduate about how it affected me. Beverly Howell, the MSU professor who wrote the grant to initiate Annie’s Projects through Southern Risk Management, found a way to send five women to the National Women in Agriculture meeting in Oklahoma in 2008. We were five producers, and the presenters were mostly extension service personnel. I attended a presentation there on “How to make money in the Horse Business”. Well, I took the advice I was given in that meeting and changed my business plan to boarding and lessons, and I stopped breeding. I am still in the horse business but, boy, do I miss my babies.

On this trip I gained two “new sisters,” Sandra Berryhill and Diane Evans. Sandra will have to share her story with you some time. Diane Evans died of cancer several years ago but made me promise her to keep a Mississippi Women for Agriculture group going. We began in my living room in September 2011 with the writing of our bylaws. In lieu of flowers Diane asked for donations to MWA and our scholarship program began, named after her. Her son Robert and daughter-in-law Amy Evans come every year to present 3 awards, and I love them.

We have our own website now: Dale Moore and Ellen Graves are working hard to teach old girls new tricks. Thank you, Sherilyn Jones and Mary Jane Coign, for all your help.

As your president I need your feedback:

WHAT WOULD YOU AS A MEMBER OF MWA WANT OUR GROUP TO DO? Do we want a motto like the Army “Be all you can be” or the United Methodist Conference “the Power of We”. Would regional meetings be something you are interested in?

Please share your concerns and thoughts with me at

You can sign up for the newsletter by following the “Subscribe” link found on every page of the website. Remember subscribing is a two part process: sign up with your email address, first name and last name and then go to your e-mail to confirm.

Virginia Mathews

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