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MSU Teachers Guide Top Winning Teams
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Four academic teams from Mississippi State University recently won top honors in national competitions, bringing distinction to their colleges and departments.
The Agricultural Economics, Horticulture, Poultry Science and Dairy Products Judging teams all won first place in their respective national competitions in the last academic year.
Dr. Bill Fox, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said for most teams, these wins were not a first. Faculty helped position these students to compete and win.
"Respected programs of study and coaching by MSU professors enable these top-notch students to compete and win at these high levels," Fox said. "The major ingredients for success and winning are outstanding students that respond to superior coaching and teaching by an award-winning faculty. The teams reflect the winning tradition of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Mississippi State University."
The Dairy Products team at MSU won first place in November at the 76th Annual Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest held in Chicago. Dr. Charles White, head of the Food Science and Technology Department and team coach, said the department's five wins in 12 years gives it the best record in the country.
"Food companies are very anxious to have individuals trained in sensory evaluation, and these skills are tested in the competition," White said. "Students learn to taste a product and know whether it is good or bad, and how to fix anything that is wrong with it."
Students with a natural ability in this field, diligence and a desire to work do well in this competition, White said. These same skills enable them to perform well in jobs after graduation.
"These abilities are very much in demand in the food industry, and our graduates get many very attractive job offers," White said.
Dairy products team members this year scored twice as many points as the second place winner. Members included Joey Raines, Jennifer Ormon and Suzanne Reddin, with alternates Eric Smith, Caroline Betbeze and Daryl Parker. The Poultry Science Club placed first in the National Collegiate Poultry Judging Contest in November in Fayetteville, Ark. Dr. Tim Chamblee, team coach, said this was the fourth win in five years for MSU's poultry judging team.
"The students who compete get hands-on experience with learning how to think and evaluate both live animals and market products," Chamblee said. "This competition gives students practical experience and helps prepare them for the real world."
MSU's poultry science department attracts excellent students who train easily and compete well in these competitions. This year's winning team consisted of Brian Lott, Jason Green, Jason Stewart, Brian Massengale and alternate Gerald Jones.
Dr. Stan Spurlock is an ag economist professor and advisor for the ag economics team. His three-man team participated in the Academic Quiz Bowl during the annual meeting of the American Agricultural Economics Association meeting in August in Salt Lake City, Utah.
"Students who competed gained extra knowledge because they spent a little more intense concentration in some areas," Spurlock said.
This win was the first for MSU's ag economics team, which was composed this year of students Corey Miller, Tige Hopper and Derrick Surrette. The team never lost a round in the double-elimination tournament.
MSU's Horticulture Club placed first at the American Society for Horticultural Science conference in July in Charlotte, N.C. This year marked the fourth time in five years the club won top national honors.
Dr. Richard Harkess, horticulture team advisor, said the extra time team members spent studying material for the competition drove home information being taught in class.
"Our students do particularly well in the plant identification part of the competition," Harkess said. "They take three courses in plant material identification and use, and I think they get a good foundation there that really helps in the competition."
Team members were Daniel Ashworth Jr., Karl Gercens, Will Lowery and James Rawson.