Alcorn State University hosts 2014 Ag Enhancement Camp

The Alcorn State University Department of Agriculture hosted its first Agricultural Enhancement Camp for high school students July 13-25, 2014. A special program held July 18, 2014, highlighted the activities enjoyed by the student participants, and their knowledge gained through active involvement in experiential learning related to agriculture and its various entities.

According to Dr. Daniel Collins, Department of Agriculture chair, professor of plant pathology, and camp sponsor, the primary objective of the camp was “to train the next generation of agriculturalists and to expose students to the world of possibilities offered by pursuing educational and career opportunities in the food and agricultural sciences.”

The program featured dynamic keynote speaker Wendell Paris, a veteran of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement. An advocate of hard work, education and economic development as a panacea for the poor, he is currently putting his hands to work campaigning for organic agricultural enterprise as a solution for the social and economic ills that plague the impoverished Mississippi Delta. An avid historian, Paris’ presented a chronological timeline of cooperative development in the rural south, parallel to the Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s and 60’s.

He shared with the participants about his encounters with civil rights legends Fannie Lou Hamer, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. among others. He taught the young students “in the case of the civil rights movement, we cannot limit our dialogue in a linear, episodic manner. The movement is a dynamic that has evolved over time and must continue to evolve to fit the challenges of the day as well as the needs of a new generation.”

During the camp’s first phase, the students from across the state of Mississippi and the U.S. Virgin Islands participated in hands-on studies on science, plant pathology, biofuels, biotechnology and animal science. They took several field trips to local farm enterprises, Agriculture and History museums and the farmers market, among other locations. They also visited the home of Medgar and Myrle Evers, where Alcornite Evers was assassinated more than 50 years ago.

A recent graduate of the Mississippi School of the Arts in Brookhaven, Mississippi, Janmeshir Frye said, “Participating in the program has been a great experience for me as I have a passion for animals. I enrolled to see if working with animals is a possible career for me.”

Enperatraz Delgadillo, from the Elena Christian Jr. High School in St. Croix, Virgin Islands said, “This was a great experience for me as well. I learned about different aspects of agriculture and expanded my view about the United States, as it was my first long-distance trip. I enjoyed Alcorn’s welcoming atmosphere and hope to come here again.”

On July 19, the students began the second phase of the camp, which included the Dr. George Washington Carver agricultural leadership tour to Washington, D. C.

Collins said, “The purpose of the tour was to study the legacy of Dr. Carver as a plant pathologist, agricultural scientist, and educator.”

The students visited, networked, and interacted with our nation’s leading scientists and professionals working on the frontline of global food security at the various USDA agencies in the Washington, D. C. metro area. The group also visited the USDA-ARS Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and the USDA ARS Headquarters, which is named in honor of Carver. They also visited Tuskegee University to tour the Carver Museum and meet his former students.

For more information about the Alcorn State University Department of Agriculture, call (601) 877-6128. For more information about the Ag Enhancement Camp, contact Dr. Daniel Collins at (601) 877-6527.

Pictured: The participants showcase their talents at special program.

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