ABEC Visits Houston

Twenty Agribusiness and Economics Club (ABEC) members of the School of Agriculture, Research, Extension and Applied Sciences toured various facilities in Houston, Texas on April 4-6 during an educational trip, according to Teddrick Hargrave, research associate and instructor. Dr. Wesley Whittaker, interim dean for academics and professor, accompanied the tour.

“The objective of the trip was to provide experiential learning by exposing students to applied agricultural economics and agribusiness operations, by allowing students to experience life outside of their normal domain, and by building a spirit of teamwork among students and faculty,” states Hargrave.

The group toured several educational and agricultural operations, including the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Houston Space Center, Cargill, Inc., and Harris County Farm. The farm prides itself as being one of Houston’s finest meat processors with a large selection of high quality meats, which also offers custom slaughtering services.

The students were excited to see firsthand how the slaughtering process works.

“It’s very efficient, every part of the animal is used for something,” states Semion Wright, junior, agribusiness management student and ABEC parliamentarian.

Later that day, the group toured the Houston Space Center which is owned and operated by the Space Flight Education Foundation and is Houston’s first and only Smithsonian Institute affiliate. Students enjoyed the interactive attractions, including the remote control blimp, cycles and the space shuttle simulators.

“It is especially popular for educational programs and we were lucky to be a part of the one million people visiting annually,” states Hargrave.

Day two of the tour was to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Houston branch. The facility is one of three branches of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas which has the second largest currency vault in the country. The employees welcomed the group and gave them a tour of the entire bank. The students were given a motivational charge by the bank’s Vice President, Michael N. Turner, and received unfit — damaged or no longer in desirable condition — currency as souvenirs.

“It’s amazing to learn how the information we are receiving in the classroom is being utilized in the day-to-day operations of the bank,” states Brittni Echols, senior, agricultural economics student and ABEC president.

The final day of the tour was spent at Cargill, Inc., which is quite a unique operation that rely on a rail system as compared to other Cargill facilities visited previously by ABEC that rely on a barge system. The group was warmly welcomed by Cargill employees, some of whom are Alcorn State University graduates.

Presentations were made on the company’s history, trade execution strategy, plant operations, corporate social responsibility, and diversity. Presenters were senior managers including Plant Superintendent Rashard Hart, a 1998 graduate of the Alcorn's Agricultural Economics Program, who answered questions from the ABEC students. A tour concluded with a visit to the plant lead by Kendric Newsom, a 2005 graduate of the Alcorn's Agricultural Economics Program.

“As indicated by the participants, the trip was fun-filled and a great learning experience beyond the classroom,” adds Hargrave.

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