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Unique partnership binds MSU, school
BROOKLYN – Students at Forrest County Agricultural High School now have the resources of Mississippi State University at their fingertips.
The school entered a partnership with the MSU Extension Service this year that allows students, faculty and staff to attend Extension educational trainings through an interactive video system. Extension and school representatives and local and state officials marked the occasion with a ribbon cutting on April 8 at the high school.
The Extension Center for Technology Outreach teamed with Forrest County Extension agents to provide the audiovisual system, which is currently housed in one of the school’s two computer labs. It will be relocated to the career center once construction is complete. The system allows two-way communication between two or more sites equipped with similar technology. Interactive video systems are located in all 82 county Extension offices, four regional Extension centers, 12 research sites and on campus.
This partnership follows the donation of 53 used computers from Extension in 2013.
“We are so grateful that everyone at Mississippi State worked with us to make this happen for our students,” said Jerry Morgan, FCAHS superintendent. “When I came on board a few years ago, we were facing consolidation. Now, we have cutting-edge technology and the ability to connect with one of the best agricultural research universities in the nation.”
FCAHS is one of three independent agricultural school districts in the state. About 600 ninth through 12th graders attend the school. The curriculum consists of traditional classes and six career and technology programs: health sciences, drafting, agriculture, horticulture, law enforcement and business.
“We can provide an education to students who want to go to college, but not every child wants to pursue a four-year degree,” Morgan said. “The vocational training we deliver is valuable, and this partnership is going to enhance the education of students with either interest.”
Kellee Lassiter, a Forrest County Extension agent who helped connect high school personnel with Extension administrators to forge the partnership, said this equipment will help students both inside and outside the classroom.
“Students will benefit from this relationship in more than one way,” Lassiter said. “They can easily access any class or workshop to supplement their classwork, but it can also help 4-H’ers. They will have direct access to any of our faculty, specialists or agents. I plan to use the system to do some programs for the students, some of whom are 4-H members.”
Gary Jackson, Extension Service director, said he is excited about the partnership.
“Technology is a key tool in educating people, and our mission in Extension is to deliver research-proven information to the people of the state,” Jackson said to the crowd gathered at the ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the partnership. “It was clear we could enrich your ag program through our Extension distance learning seminars, workshops, courses and certificate programs. But the other important thing to realize is that you can help us. Having access to your ag teachers and your ag program will help us understand how we can better meet the needs of teachers, schools and communities.”
Senator Billy Hudson, Senate Agriculture Committee chairman and graduate of FCAHS, praised MSU’s support.
“Agriculture is still the No. 1 industry in Mississippi, and it is very important that we educate our young people about where their food and fiber comes from,” Hudson said. “That’s what this school was founded on, and students still need it today.”