Donor Spotlight

Equine Association Establishes MSU Scholarship Endowment

Mississippi State Equine Association

Pictured (left to right): James Watts, MSEA Executive Director; Cindy Hyde-Smith, Commissioner of Agriculture; Jud Skelton, Director of Development for CALS; and James Raspberry, MSEA President.

The Mississippi State Equine Association is fulfilling a vision to further equine education by establishing a scholarship endowment at Mississippi State.

Since 2006, MSEA officials have worked to create the Mississippi State Equine Association Endowed Scholarship to encourage beneficial equine practices. Based in the university's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the leadership and academic recognition award will assist animal science majors who are pursuing pre-veterinary studies.

The organization's endowment contribution recently was presented in honor of Terry E. Kiser, retiring head of the animal and dairy sciences department. Kiser, who joined the MSU faculty in 1997, officially concludes his duties Aug. 31.

"We are pleased to honor the professional contributions Dr. Kiser has made to Mississippi State and the equine industry by presenting him with this gift," said James Rasberry of Kosciusko, MSEA president. "He has been a genuine friend to our organization for a number of years."

James H. Watts of Brandon, MSEA executive director, said, "Our association makes worthwhile contributions and sponsors many beneficial programs for deserving Mississippi equestrians, and we are proud to use our resources wisely in keeping with our motto of 'for the love of horses and horse people.'"

"A public university scholarship endowment at one of the nation's finest agricultural and veterinary institutions is one of our greatest achievements," Watts added.

An affiliate of the Washington, D.C.-based American Horse Council, MSEA is a statewide network of horse owners dedicated to improving the quality of life for state equine and horsemen through education and information programs. The organization works closely with Mississippi colleges and universities, as well as county boards of supervisors.

Future recipients of the scholarship must be enrolled MSU seniors with demonstrated leadership abilities. In addition to being Magnolia State residents, they must hold a minimum 3.0 grade-point average (based on 4.0 scale).

"The MSEA has previously provided annual scholarship support for MSU, and we are pleased that they have chosen to take the next step in creating this endowment that will assist our aspiring future veterinary professionals," said Jud Skelton, the college's director of development.

One of MSU's oldest academic units, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences offers 16 academic majors and 33 concentrations for undergraduate degrees; 10 majors and 30 concentrations for graduate degrees. (For more, visit

The Mississippi State Equine Association Endowed Scholarship fund may benefit from additional contributions. Contact Skelton at 662-325-0643 or for more information, or to make an online contribution at

Additional information on the Mississippi State Equine Association is available at, as well as details on a special "Saddle Up" license plate.

Professor Gives Encouragement For Agriculture Teaching Careers

Jacqueline Deeds

Long after Jacquelyn P. Deeds retires from Mississippi State, she will continue impacting the university and its students in a special way. A gift from Deeds has created an endowed scholarship which will help ensure others are drawn into teaching as a career.

By funding a scholarship in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and including Mississippi State University in her will, she hopes to inspire others to follow her into what she feels is a rewarding career.

Deeds holds teaching close to her heart, and she has never regretted her decision to remain hands-on with academics. She also understands first-hand the financial burden a college degree can impose on some students and their families.

Deeds, who is a professor of agricultural information science and education, teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the School of Human Sciences. She also coordinates student and beginning teacher programs, as well as supervises student teaching and field experiences.

The Dr. Jacquelyn Deeds Endowed Scholarship in the School of Human Sciences at Mississippi State will assist full-time undergraduate students majoring in agricultural information sciences. Recipients shall be students who intend to teach in secondary education.

Former Bulldog Athlete, Spouse Support Agriculture

Jacqueline Deeds

The Fords are among the latest contributors giving in support of a new university initiative. StatePride: An Initiative for Student and Faculty Support seeks gifts from alumni and friends of the university for scholarships and faculty support.

Through StatePride, the Fords have established 10 $1,000 annual scholarships for deserving students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The Donald and Phyllis Ford Loyalty Scholarships will benefit entering freshman or community college transfer students with a minimum 3.0 grade-point average who demonstrate leadership potential. Loyalty Scholarships are among several annual scholarships emphasized through the initiative.

The Fords also have established annual awards for exceptional faculty members in the college. Their $40,000 gift will be matched dollar-to-dollar through a special partnership with MSU Athletics, which will result in $80,000 for the college.

Over the next two years, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and other colleges will receive matching grant funds from the athletic department to fund a faculty awards program. Needs for each college are dependent on the number of faculty within the individual unit.

To Read More About The Fords, click here

Excellence Fund honors Davis and his research career

Frank Davis

A $50,000 gift from DuPont Pioneer will establish an excellence fund in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in honor of longtime Mississippi State University entomologist Frank Davis. The gift will help continue the insect rearing workshops founded by Davis and enhance the research facilities at Mississippi State.

The gift establishes the Frank M. Davis Fund for Excellence in Insect Pathology and Insect Rearing in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology. DuPont Pioneer, the world’s leading developer and supplier of advanced plant genetics that provides high-quality seeds to farmers in more than 90 countries, gave the gift in Davis’ name because he helped the company begin its insect-rearing program. He also shares new information and procedures with them, as he has done for several other companies over his career.

Davis, originally from the Mississippi Delta, graduated from MSU in 1965. He earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in entomology by the age of 25. After college, he remained in Starkville and accepted a position as a research entomologist with the Mississippi State-housed U.S. Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service’s Corn Host Plant Resistance Research unit. Shortly after, the Mississippi State Department of Entomology invited Davis to become an adjunct professor. He spent 36 years with the USDA and still serves as assistant director for the university’s Insect Rearing Center and an emeritus adjunct professor of entomology and plant pathology.

The Insect Rearing Program began at Mississippi State in 1999 because “there was a need for formal education in insect rearing,” said Davis.

The program started with rearing a few species, but soon requests were made for more species to be cultivated. Due to the popularity and high demand for the program, additional funds were disbursed by Mississippi State to construct a production house.

Davis said, “We have more people interested in insect rearing than ever before, and Mississippi State is an example of a program to follow since insects are needed for protein and can help reduce world hunger. Our university is a leading producer of food for humans, livestock and domestic animals, and insects research to increase food productivity goes hand-in-hand.”

As to the success of the program, Davis cites a specific collaboration between MSU and the University of Alicante in Spain. The two universities have partnered for an insect-farming project in Kenya to increase the protein supply in poverty-stricken areas. Davis said he hopes this project will alleviate hunger problems the people face.

The Insect Rearing Program has increased in popularity in recent years. Individuals from 38 states and 30 countries outside of the United States attend an annual workshop, hosted by the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, that covers major components of a successful rearing program. The week-long event includes lectures, tours and guest speakers, and the workshop honors a select individual each year. The 2014 workshop will be named in memory of Davis’ wife, Carole E. Davis, a local artist and a 1964 Mississippi State English graduate who died in June.

The couple had three children, Frank Davis Jr., Lewis McReynolds Davis and Miriam Elizabeth Davis.

The Insect Rearing Program will use the DuPont Pioneer gift to assist with workshop expenses. Davis also hopes that, with the help of gifts like this, the program can build a second production house to expand the Insect Rearing Program.

“I guess you can say that I have been and still am in ‘bug heaven’ thanks to my education and to the professional opportunities provided to me by MSU,” said Davis, who plans to continue leading workshops and collaborating with companies like DuPont Pioneer in the years ahead.

For more on supporting the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, call 662-325-2837 or email to contact Dees Britt.