Partner Blog

Information of use to those who serve private well owners.

Partner Interview with Dr. Jason Barrett, MSU Extension

The Private Well Class works closely with many partners to get information out to the public about their private wells. At the Mississippi State University Extension, Jason R. Barrett is one of those partners. Dr. Barrett is an Assistant Extension Professor with the Mississippi State University Extension Center for Government and Community Development and he works in the areas of community development, economics and natural resources, water and waste water utilities, and municipal public. 

We interviewed Dr. Barrett to highlight how one of our partners incorporates the Private Well Class into his programming and how he reaches and interacts with the public in his role at the Mississippi State University Extension.

 

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you came to work at MSU Extension?

JRB:  I completed a graduate assistantship with MSU Extension in the Food and Fiber department in 2001 and 2002.  After those years, I realized that I enjoyed extension work and had a strong desire to return.  I took a fulltime position with MSU Extension in January 2007 and have been here since.

Q: What does a normal day usually entail (in respect to your job)?

JRB:  I usually spend the first hour or two of the morning reading and responding to emails, making a list of items I need to address, prioritizing that list, and either working on a publication, scheduling a workshop/training, and/or compiling a technical assistance report.

Q: What is your favorite thing about your job?

JRB:  I enjoy getting on the road and in the field.  I enjoy working with people to assist or resolve their real issue(s).  I like seeing tangible results.

Q: How often do you put on a workshop in different counties throughout Mississippi?

JRB:  I am in the process of planning the next three (3) which will take place over the next six (6) months which will follow one (1) every other month.

Q: What do the workshops include?

JRB:  The past workshops have had three (3) components; Mr. Steve Wilson talking about “Water Quality and Your Private Well”, a local well drilling expert talking about water well construction, and then I finish with a few topics including ‘Protecting Your Private Well’, ‘Private Well Water Testing’, and statewide contacts for assistance and knowledge about your private well.

Q: How exactly do you incorporate the Private Well Class into your workshops?

JRB:  I make a packet for each attendee and I give them copies of my publications related to private water wells and I always place the “Private Well Class” flyer on top of the packet plus Mr. Wilson promotes the class at the end of his presentation time.

Q: What made you decide to incorporate the Private Well Class into the workshop?

JRB:  The Private Well Class is a wealth of resources, publication, and information.  If someone is working with citizens in relation to private water wells and they are not using the Private Well Class, they are doing themselves and the citizens a disservice.

Q: Other than the workshops, do you offer any other events, services, etc. for well owners?

JRB:  We are planning for this year to incorporate bacteria testing for private well owners that attend our workshops.  I think it is necessary to offer testing to residents.  We talk about it so much in our publications and workshops and then we have to point them in another direction to actually get their water tested.  I think it only makes sense to incorporate it into future education and outreach.

Q: What kinds of people typically attend the workshops?

JRB:  Private well owners that are looking for answers.  Most of the people we see have a private well because they do not have another option for drinking water.

Q: What is the primary reason that people attend the workshop (can you be more specific than they want to learn more about their well)?

JRB:  A lot of interest and questions revolve around; how do I know my water is safe, where can I get my water tested, what should I be testing for, etc.

Q: What do you think is the most valuable thing that attendees get out of the workshop?

JRB:  They get tangible publications to use for reference, they get contact information from myself, Mr. Steve Wilson, and the local well drilling expert to use for any future questions or technical assistance.  They get to know that there are people that can and will help them.

Q: Is there any other follow up or services that you assist with after the workshop is over (testing, inspection, etc.)?

JRB:  As I stated earlier, we are planning to incorporate testing into our future workshops this year.  I want private well owners to have the peace of mind from knowing their drinking water is free from bacteria.

 


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