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Legislators gain insights into MSU ag programs
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi State University hosted state legislators serving on agricultural committees to provide a glimpse into the institution's efforts to support veterinary medicine, forestry and agriculture.
Bill Herndon, associate vice president for the MSU Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine, helped plan the Oct. 18 and 19 tours. About 25 members of the Mississippi House and Senate agricultural committees visited the university's north farm, dairy processing plant, Wood Magic Science Fair and College of Veterinary Medicine.
“We wanted them to hear from faculty and staff in as many areas as possible, so when they were not touring facilities, they were listening to extension, research and teaching personnel explain some of their current projects,” Herndon said. “We want them to understand that MSU is working hard to support the state’s $8 billion agricultural industry.”
Dr. Ron McLaughlin, associate dean in the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine, said the tours offered an opportunity to showcase the division’s work in teaching, service and research.
“We wanted to provide an opportunity for them to see firsthand the many great learning opportunities students have and the wide variety of research that is going on to help the people of Mississippi,” he said.
McLaughlin explained that significant amounts of the research at the veterinary college has an impact on human health.
“Our researchers are studying issues such as diabetes, influenza and pesticides in the environment,” he said.
Ken Morgan of Morgantown represents Lamar and Marion counties in the Mississippi House of Representatives. As chairman of the forestry committee, he was very interested in the lumber processing discussion.
“The researchers explained the importance of strength in the value of timber,” Morgan said. “It is good to see that the money we are putting into the program is producing information we can use in our management and marketing decisions. I’m glad the students are getting useful information that will help them support the industry when they graduate. They are tomorrow’s leaders.”
MSU agricultural specialists spoke to the legislators on a variety of topics, including row-crop research, unmanned aircraft systems, the Zika virus, honeybees, fire ants, wild hogs and deer.
Lee Weiskopf, MSU director of governmental support, commended the legislators for their service to the state and to agriculture. He said he hoped the visit to campus would help them see the success and growth of their investment in agricultural programs at the university.
“We wanted to make sure they understood how diverse agriculture is, as well as the many and diverse roles MSU and the division play in the industry,” Weiskopf said. “The research we do provides better quality products and knowledge to people in those fields, and we back it up through our Extension program.”
Weiskopf said MSU is recognized not only on a state and national level, but also internationally.
“They were particularly interested in some of the newer projects, such as unmanned aerial systems, and saw how those technologies can be used in a variety of ways,” he said. “Several gained a greater understanding of the College of Veterinary Medicine as not only a training facility for future veterinarians, but also a research hub and renowned hospital for all types of animals.”
Contact: Dr. Bill Herndon, 662-325-2630