Hinds Community College opened its doors for the first time in September 1917 with a handful of students and a couple of programs, including agriculture, that were key to Mississippi then and continues to be true today. Hinds will celebrate 100 years of Community Inspired Service in the Agriculture program with a reception and dinner that will reunite alumni from a variety of programs associated with the Agriculture Department and spotlight some of the community and business partners.

The Agriculture Department celebration is 6 p.m. Sept. 21 at the T.H. Kendall III Agriculture Complex. All events will be at McKenzie Arena off Seven Springs Road in Raymond. For more information, contact Wayne Boshart, 601.857.3583, Melissa Washburn at 601.857.3334 or mcwashburn@hindscc.edu. Also see the Hinds Community College Facebook page.

Dr. Roger Jones, who has worked in the Hinds Agriculture Department since 1970 and is now chair, keeps tabs on many of his former students but is hoping to reconnect with some of the alumni he hasn’t heard from in a while. Among the goals of the reunion is to begin a new alumni chapter.

“This is a chance for them to come back, be able to reflect on a lot of things and maybe help us get some ideas on the future of the Ag program,” he said. “I personally would like to invite former students from Agribusiness Management, Veterinary Technology, Meat Merchandising, the former Agriculture Diesel Program, the former Food Processing Technology Program and the academic transfer students who majored in programs in Agriculture, Pre-Vet and Forestry. Our student organizations such as Agriculture Club and the Livestock Judging Teams drew students from all these areas.”

He also envisions better connections with those who work in companies that cater to agriculture, such as feed, seed, equipment and chemicals, as a way to help his students get jobs.

High school students toured Hinds Community College's Agriculture facilities at the T.H. Kendall III Agriculture Complex off Seven Springs Road in Raymond.
High school students toured Hinds Community College’s Agriculture facilities at the T.H. Kendall III Agriculture Complex off Seven Springs Road in Raymond.

The role of agriculture at the college can be traced to the start of the college itself in 1917, as an agricultural high school. The school operated a farm for both instruction as well as a source of food for the cafeteria. Students had tuition paid in exchange for working on the farm. Initially, eggs, milk, meat and vegetables were produced and processed by the department.

Expansion starting in the 1960s, coupled with changes in agribusiness technology, have transformed what the department produces, but not its importance to the college and, by extension, sustained agriculture as the state’s biggest economic driver. The 1970s brought the start of animal technology programs, and agribusiness was added to the curriculum.

In 1983, the first phase of a $2.6 million complex on Seven Springs Road was completed. It houses the college’s Billie Banes Livestock Evaluation Center, more commonly known as simply the Bull Test Station, Mississippi’s first such public bull test facility; McKenzie Arena, which houses multiple special events put on by the ag program; holding facilities and a sales arena for livestock; and classroom space for the Veterinary Technology and Landscape Technology programs.

A student demonstrates a combine simulator at Hinds Community College's Agriculture department at the T.H. Kendall III Complex off Seven Springs Road in Raymond.
A student demonstrates a combine simulator at Hinds Community College’s Agriculture department at the T.H. Kendall III Complex off Seven Springs Road in Raymond.

Further innovation in the 21st century’s opening decades has introduced the growing field of Precision Agriculture to Hinds. Students in the college’s Unmanned Aerial Systems program train to assist the farmers of today and tomorrow use technology to decide what to plant and where, variable rates of application of fertilizers and liming materials, as well as, to determine irrigation strategies, and pest control.

Another recently added program is the poultry option under agribusiness, which in May had its first three graduates. Adding new programs and updating existing curriculum is a constant need, one that Hinds alumni can help accomplish with their input, Jones said. “We are constantly trying to revise programs,” he said.

[tweetable alt=””]Hinds CC Agriculture program plans Sept. 21 reunion, program.[/tweetable]

Hinds Community College is celebrating its 100th year of Community Inspired Service in 2017. Hinds opened in September 1917 first as an agricultural high school and admitted college students for the first time in 1922, with the first class graduating in 1927. In 1982 Hinds Junior College and Utica Junior College merged, creating the Hinds Community College District. Today, as Mississippi’s largest community college, Hinds Community College is a comprehensive institution with six locations. Hinds offers quality, affordable educational opportunities with academic programs of study leading to seamless university transfer and career and technical programs teaching job-ready skills. To learn more, visit www.hindscc.edu or call 1.800.HindsCC.

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