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MSU Extension specialist receives leadership award

Writer: Ms. Susan M. Collins-Smith, MSU Extension Service

RAYMOND, Miss. -- A Mississippi State University Extension Service specialist was recently recognized for her work with the rural tourism industry.

Rachael Carter, tourism specialist with the MSU Extension Center for Government and Community Development, or CGCD, received the Agnes Zaiontz Rural Tourism Leadership Award from the Alabama-Mississippi-Tennessee Rural Tourism Conference committee.

Each year, the award recognizes a person in the tri-state area who has made significant contributions to the tourism industry through inspiration, spirit and excellent leadership.

“It is an honor to be recognized by this amazing group of people,” Carter said. “Tourism is a growing and important part of Mississippi’s economy. I am proud of what we in the Center for Government and Community Development have been able to help towns and cities accomplish, and I look forward to continuing to help tourism leaders across the state achieve their goals.”

The award was established in honor of Agnes Zaiontz. A longtime employee of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority, she was instrumental in establishing the Tenn-Tom Tourism Association and the Tenn-Tom Marina Association. Zaiontz also helped create the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Transportation Museum.

Carter was presented the award in October during the 2023 Alabama-Mississippi-Tennessee Rural Tourism Conference in Cleveland, Mississippi.

Carter and her colleagues in the CGCD spend countless hours working with and providing support services to tourism professionals throughout the state. Tourism leaders in the state look to the professionals in the center for assistance with assessments, economic impact studies and market studies that help them in the strategic planning process.

Carter and CGCD colleague William Poindexter help organize the conference each year.

For more information about the CGCD and its services and educational programs, visit

Source: MSU Extension specialist receives leadership award

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