New director targets nutrition, health issues

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Sylvia Byrd is committed to improving the nutrition and health of low-resource households through her efforts as the new project director for the Mississippi State University Extension Service Office of Nutrition Education.

Byrd said the ultimate goal of the Office of Nutrition Education is to improve health and build strong, vibrant children, families and communities across the state. She will provide leadership for externally funded nutrition education programs that target low-resource households. She will work closely with the Mississippi Department of Human Services to ensure successful implementation of the program.

In addition to education, a significant focus of the office will be policy, operational and environmental changes.

“We will work with Extension personnel in every county as well as collaborate with other agencies and nonprofit and faith-based organizations to reach our most vulnerable populations,” she said. “Our efforts will be evidence based and reflect the federal- and state-level goals of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program. I’m looking forward to building relationships to expand Extension’s reach.”

A licensed and registered dietitian, the North Carolina native earned her bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University in 1982 and her doctorate in nutrition from MSU in 1993. A member of the MSU faculty since 1994, her most recent duties have been as a professor and director of the Didactic Program in Nutrition and Dietetics in the Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion.

Byrd’s appointment to the position was announced jointly by Paula Threadgill, associate director of the MSU Extension Service, and Reuben Moore, interim head of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion.

“Dr. Byrd will provide nutrition and health expertise to Extension agents and other partners on a regular basis. She also will support 4-H food and nutrition programs,” Threadgill said. “She will develop, implement and evaluate information addressing the needs of individuals and families eligible for externally funded nutrition education programs.”

Moore said Byrd’s experience as an educator will help her engage students in efforts to address these significant issues in Mississippi.

“Dr. Byrd will be able to provide research opportunities for graduate students interested in nutrition and health-related community outreach programs,” Moore said. “She will continue to publish findings that provide the basis for new and revised programs in refereed journals.”

Byrd officially begins her new duties on Dec. 16. For more information or to partner with the Office of Nutrition Education, Byrd can be reached at