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Alcorn State University’s Mississippi Small Farm and Agribusiness Center Seeks New Applicants for Farm Management Educational Program for New, Beginning Farmers and Ranchers in Mississippi

The Mississippi Small Farm and Agribusiness Center (MSFAC), an entity of the Alcorn State University School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, is currently recruiting new applicants for its Farm Management Educational Program (FMEP). The goal of the program, which is in its second year of implementation, is to recruit, train, and provide 300 New/Beginning Farmers and Ranchers (NBFRs) with the necessary resources to generate and implement a feasible farm plan, thereby equipping them to become sustainable in vegetable and meat goat production.

The FMEP provides educational training and hands-on demonstration in basic crop and livestock production, as well as assists NBFRs in developing and implementing a viable farm plan. Upon successful admission to the program, participants will receive research-based education on the fundamentals of livestock/vegetable production; financial management; marketing research; food safety, available USDA services and more.

Year One online modules are scheduled to begin in June and conclude in July. After completing Year One modules, applicants will develop a farm business plan in the Year Two online course. Information on how to access the online platform will be distributed to participants upon program enrollment.

“I am overwhelmed with joy over the amount of email and phone inquiries we’ve had in the past few weeks,” said Dr. Elizabeth Myles, associate director, MSFAC. “We are very grateful to have this opportunity to serve new, beginning farmers and ranchers in Mississippi by offering this educational program.”

Individuals who have never operated a farm; have participated in the business operations of a farm for 10 years or less; or who will physically participate in the farm or ranch operation are encouraged to apply. Enrollment is now open. Space is limited.

Click here to register online. For additional information, contact Charlotte Dailey, project assistant, at 601.877.6449 or cdailey@alcorn.edu.

School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences Recognizes Spring 2020 Graduates

The Alcorn State University graduating class of 2020 made history on Saturday, May 2 by becoming the first class to have a fully online virtual commencement ceremony due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. During the event, nearly 500 undergraduate and graduate studies students were acknowledged for their academic achievement. The School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences congratulates its 2020 graduates on a job well done!

Deadline Approaches: School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences to Provide Support through Scholarship Program

Friday, May 15, 2020, is the deadline to apply for a new scholarship aimed at incoming freshman, veterans, non-traditional and transfer students. The Academic Achievement Scholarship, an entity of the School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences (SAAS) Scholars Program, provides up to $10,000 per academic year ($5,000 per semester) to help defray student expenses.

Dr. Edmund R. Buckner, dean and director of Land-Grant Programs, SAAS, hopes that the new scholarship will aid students in their quest for success as well as bring more awareness to the agricultural sector.

“Agriculture is the largest segment of our state’s economy,” he said. “With many of our students in dire need of financial assistance to complete college, this scholarship will help them to successfully pursue and complete bachelor’s degrees in agriculture and related disciplines.”

According to De’Onqua Isaac, student recruitment specialist, School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, “Our primary goal is to increase retention and graduation rates among Alcorn State University students who are pursuing bachelor’s degrees in the agricultural sciences. We aim to do this by providing scholarships, as well as experiential learning, and career development opportunities.”

Sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through a $765,000 grant, the scholarship will fund tuition, housing and living expenses for approximately 75 students annually. Each annual award is contingent upon the student’s continued successful academic performance.

To be eligible, students must be accepted for admission to Alcorn State University; be classified as a U.S. citizen or permanent resident; possess a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better (on a 4.0 scale), and a 20 or better ACT score (or equivalent SAT score). He or she must also demonstrate leadership ability and a commitment to community service, as well as aspire to one of the following courses of study: Agricultural Sciences, AgriBusiness Management, Agricultural Economics, Human Sciences, Child Development/Human Development, Family and Consumer Sciences or Food, Nutrition, and Community Health Sciences.

Students are encouraged to click here to apply. The application deadline is May 15, 2020.

For more information, contact Isaac at 601.877.2407 or deonqua@alcorn.edu. You may also contact Casnacita Gray, director of Student Services, School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, at 601.877.6552 or csgray@alcorn.edu.

U.S. Small Business Administration Provides Relief to Small Business Owners

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states and territories are able to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000 from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Click here to learn more.

COVID-19: Protecting Yourself and Others

The National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Mississippi State Department of Health continue to closely monitor the outbreak of respiratory illnesses caused by coronavirus (COVID-19), and are working to limit the spread of cases nationally and in Mississippi. To learn more, click here. To learn about the University’s response, visit www.alcorn.edu/coronavirus.

Office of Land-Grant Communications Bids Farewell to Graduating Media Interns

On Saturday, May 2, Alcorn State University recognized its graduating class of 2020 with its first ever virtual commencement ceremony. Among those celebrated were Office of Land-Grant Communications’ (OLGC) interns Rashunda Veals and Gabrielle Terrett, who each received their Bachelor of Arts degrees in Mass Communications.

The OLGC, an entity of the School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, provides comprehensive leadership, expertise, and service in the areas of media, marketing, and communications. During their employment, Terrett and Veals assisted with covering the School’s events by capturing compelling photography, managing social media content, composing press releases and editing print publications.

Originally from Woodville, MS, Veals has been with the School since 2018. In addition to her employment with the OLGC, she also served as a communications specialist with Entergy Corporation while maintaining a 3.96 GPA. Her future plans include attending Louisiana State University to pursue a master’s degree in mass communications with an emphasis in strategic communications.

“This internship allowed me to grasp a better concept of the different areas of marketing and communications,” said Veals. “Leaving Alcorn is bittersweet, but I am excited about what is to come. Having worked in this position along with other past experiences will allow me to confidently embark upon my new journey,” she expressed.

Terrett, a Vicksburg, MS native, has been with the School since 2019. During her time with the office, she was also employed as an intern for the Vicksburg Post and a writer for the Vicksburg Daily News, Vicksburg, MS. Following graduation, she will utilize her skills as a writer to pursue a career as a communications associate with the National Park Service.

“Having this internship has helped to enhance my writing skills and introduced me to different types of marketing,” said Terrett. “Since working with the School I have been given the proper information and guidance necessary to not only become a better writer, but a better person as well.”

“I'm immensely proud of both Gabrielle and Rashunda,” said Beunkka Davis, Director of Marketing and Communications, SAAS. “We in the Office of Land-Grant Communications are honored to have played a role in cultivating the skill and competence that these young professionals readily exhibit. We look forward to keeping in touch with them as they pursue their future endeavors.”

Both Veals and Terrett graduated with honors.

Department of Human Sciences Congratulates INBRE Scholar

Alicia Cox, a senior Food, Nutrition and Community Health Sciences major, has been selected to receive a Mississippi INBRE Service Scholars Award for Summer 2020.

The Mississippi INBRE Service Scholars Program integrates public health education and intervention training with community-based programs and health clinics in Mississippi. Through Mississippi INBRE’s partnership with My Brother’s Keeper, Inc., this internship trains students to serve the Mississippi community as public health educators and service providers.

According to Cinda Catchings, instructor, Department of Human Sciences, "We are excited, and wish to congratulate Alicia as she represents Alcorn State University and the Food Nutrition and Community Health Sciences Program."

Alcorn State University Mississippi Small Farm and Agribusiness Center hosts Year One Wrap-Up Session for Farm Management Educational Program
On Wednesday, Nov. 20, the Mississippi Small Farm and Agribusiness Center (MSFAC), an entity of the Alcorn State University Extension Program (ASUEP), hosted its Year One Wrap-Up Session in the Gold Room of the Dr. Clinton Bristow, Jr. Dining Facility. The event highlighted progress made in achieving the objectives of the Farm Management Educational Program (FMEP) for New, Beginning Farmers and Ranchers in Mississippi. Jerrie Jackson, 4-H youth educator, ASUEP, presided.

Dr. Edmund R. Buckner, dean and director of Land-Grant Programs for the Alcorn State University School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, welcomed the opportunity to greet attendees as well as the array of FMEP affiliates. He encouraged participants to continue to work together to help push one another forward.

After greetings from various dignitaries, Charlotte Dailey, FMEP project assistant, and Velma Oliver, FMEP co-project director, presented an overview of the FMEP’s first year accomplishments.

According to Dailey, one goal of the FMEP is to recruit, train and equip at least 300 new farmers, ranchers and veterans with the necessary resources to create a practical farm plan and become sustainable in vegetable and meat goat production.

In partnership with five non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the FMEP provided educational trainings and hands-on demonstrations in basic crop and livestock production; financial management; risk mitigation; market diversification; food safety and biosecurity; and services of the current USDA farm bill.

FMEP participants as well as representatives from the partnering organizations were in attendance to share about their involvement with the program. Representatives included Keith Benson, Alliance of Sustainable Farms; Constance Gipson, Mid-South Progressive Agricultural Group, Inc.; Calvin Head, Mileston Cooperative Association; Belinda Usher, Mississippi Meat Goat Producers Cooperative; Rockiell Woods, National Center for Appropriate Technology, and Freddie Davis, III, River City Land Services.

Andrea Hale-Arnold, a farmer from Osyka, MS, shared how it was initially intimidating when she and her husband first became interested in agriculture.

“When we first got involved, we went in with no expectations,” she said. “This program helped us to find resources, navigate the red tape, and stay on task. We are so very grateful for the mentors and information that we have received thus far!”

The keynote speaker for the event was Dr. Dawn Mellion-Patin, vice chancellor for Extension and Outreach at Southern University's Agricultural Research and Extension Center. During her address, she encouraged attendees to be intentional with their business and never miss an opportunity to learn. She also shared inspirational words.

“Always express your gratitude for everything that you have, even on the cloudiest of days.” “Be thankful for what is, for what could be, and reflect on yesterday to figure out what you can do differently to accomplish more and achieve the goals that you’ve set.”

After lunch was served, FMEP team members provided program partners and participants with certificates of appreciation.

Dr. Elizabeth Myles, FMEP project director and MSFAC associate director, provided closing remarks.

“This year has been great...” she said. “Our farmers are very important to us. We had a very successful first year and we appreciate your unwavering support.”

For more information on FMEP, contact Myles at 601.877.3947 or emyles@alcorn.edu.

For more information on USDA Grant Number 2018-70017-28547 “Farm Management Educational Program for New, Beginning Farmers and Ranchers in Mississippi,” click here.

To view more photos from the event, click here.

Alcorn Veterinarian Travels Abroad to Teach in Ecuador

Dr. Cassandra Tillman Vaughn, university veterinarian, recently traveled to Otavalo, Ecuador to instruct veterinary students from the University of Tennessee, Kentucky State University, Western University, Oregon State University, Washington State University and Ross University on techniques for successful animal surgeries. The excursion was hosted by World Vets, an international veterinary aid organization whose mission is to improve the health and well-being of animals by providing veterinary aid and training in developing countries and disaster relief worldwide.

According to Vaughn, her experience was "the trip of a lifetime.” She enjoyed the opportunity to volunteer with such an esteemed organization and transfer the knowledge that she has gained over the years to future generations of veterinarians.

“I remember being where they were,” said Vaughn. “I just hope that I was able to help them improve their surgical skill set and confidence.”

At Alcorn, Vaughn’s specialty has been working with large animals such as cows, horses, pigs and goats.

“That’s mostly what the University has, so dogs and cats aren’t something that I usually work with on a daily basis,” she said.

During the trip, she was surprised to find that she was the only traveler with that experience.

During a community outreach day, her skills became invaluable when nearly 100 large animals came in for physicals. As the only experienced instructor, she and a local veterinarian joined forces to get the job done.

“I did the pigs and he did the cows,” she said. “It was really funny how it all worked out. I guess this was a trip that I was destined to be on!”

During her time in Ecuador, Vaughn marveled at the allure of the scenery. She became intrigued by not only the terrain, but also the people and wildlife.

“The city of Otavalo is beautiful,” she said. “I had an opportunity to hike the Andes Mountains, see a condor in all of its splendor, and visit the Equator,” she recalled.

In the future Vaughn looks forward to continuing to travel the world and share her knowledge. She encourages others to visit new places while pursuing their passions.

“Otavalo is a wonderful, safe place to visit,” she said. “I look forward to visiting Peru next year with World Vets...”

For more information, contact Vaughn at 601.877.6541 or cfvaughn@alcorn.edu. To learn more about volunteer opportunities, visit http://www.worldvets.org.

Alcorn State University Extension Program Participates in the 2019 Mississippi State Fair

Each fall, the Alcorn State University Extension Program (ASUEP) sets up a booth at the Mississippi State Fair in Jackson, MS to provide information, present dynamic displays and exhibits, and promote the initiatives and services of the Alcorn State University School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences.

During their stay, ASUEP worked with the Mississippi Syrup Producer and Processors Association; Mississippi Department of Agriculture & Commerce; Mississippi Agriculture Forestry Experiment Station and the USDA Agricultural Research Station to present its beloved "Country Outlet." The exhibit featured information on agribusiness, marketing, health and wellness, breast cancer awareness, ASUEP's 4-H Youth Development Program, and more.

This year, on-site sugarcane syrup processing was a crowd favorite. Visitors also took pleasure in browsing various aisles of syrup, sugarcane and vegetables.
During their presentation, representatives from the Mississippi Syrup Producer and Processors Association demonstrated how the sugarcane plant is used to create syrup.

“There’s nothing like the smell of sugarcane syrup cooking in the air,” said Robert Short, syrup crop grower and processor. “It takes you back to the days of your childhood, and that’s why we do it, for the kids,” he said.
In addition to visits from various organizations, the Country Outlet included Purple and Gold Day, a mobile Farmer’s Market, and live radio broadcasts from Alcorn’s public radio station, WPRL 91.7 FM.

To learn more, contact Manola Erby, youth specialist, ASUEP, at 601.857.0250 or mcerby@alcorn.edu. You may also contact Ralph Arrington, agronomy specialist, ASUEP, at 601.857.3242 or ralpha@alcorn.edu.

Alcorn’s Active Minds Chapter Presents Town Hall Meeting to Prevent Underage Drinking

On Tuesday, Nov. 19, the Alcorn State University Active Minds Chapter hosted its annual town hall meeting at Parkway Baptist Church, Natchez, MS. This year, the organization chose to inform communities about the issue of underage drinking and provided them with useful ways to help combat it.

According to Dr. Martha Ravola, interim chair/associate professor, Department of Human Sciences, and advisor of Alcorn’s Active Minds Chapter, the town hall meeting originated as part of an initiative launched by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an entity of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to address the national drinking epidemic of individuals 12 to 25 years of age.

“Alcohol use could potentially affect the quality of learning and academic performance as it can cause alterations in the structure and functioning of the brain,” said Ravola. “Communities have the potential to raise awareness of the prevalence and consequences of underage alcohol use and mobilize local action to prevent it,” she said.

During the event, a panel of mental health professionals, elected officials, educators, youth workers, religious leaders and Alcorn State University Extension Program personnel spoke to and educated attendees about the dangers of underage drinking and ways to address the issue.

For more information, contact Ravola at 601.877.4717 or mravola@alcorn.edu. To learn more about SAMHSA, click here.

Four Steps for a Food Safe Thanksgiving

By Meredith Carothers, MPH, Technical Information Specialist, FSIS

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and you may be spending a lot of time with family, friends, and eating tons of great food. The holiday season can be extremely busy, especially with all the preparation and planning, but you can be sure to have a food safe turkey-day by keeping these four simple steps in mind. Click to Read More.

For more Thanksgiving food safety tips, follow FSIS on Twitter @USDAFoodSafety or on Facebook at http://Facebook.com/FoodSafety.gov.

Contributing Authors:

Renita Lacy, staff writer | rlacy@alcorn.edu

Gabrielle Terrett, student intern | gterrett@students.alcorn.edu