Tag Archives: Dr. John Ricketts

TSU receives $1M federal grant to lead development of national platform for remote high school learners

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has received a $1 million federal grant to lead development of a national platform that allows high school agricultural courses to be taught remotely because of the pandemic. 

Dr. John Ricketts

The two-year grant and work, which will target underserved communities, are supported by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative/Education and Workforce Development Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture/National Institute of Food and Agriculture. 

Officials in TSU’s College of Agriculture say current resources being used for remote learning because of COVID-19 do not include the critical STEM topics of food and agriculture. But they plan to change that by helping to develop eight standards-based courses in agriculture, food and natural resources for high school students needing online/digital learning options. 

The project will also establish dual credit options for completers of the courses through a university or college-level faculty-course review and sharing platform.

Dr. John Ricketts, professor of agricultural education at TSU, is leading a team of content experts from the university, as well as individuals from several other institutions, including Auburn University, Mississippi State University, and the University of Georgia. 

Dr. Chandra Reddy

“Dr. Ricketts has put together an expert team that will address the concerns of teachers, students, and parents everywhere and help students complete their high school education and progress to colleges in a timely manner,” says Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of TSU’s College of Agriculture. 

Ricketts will recruit the high school teachers who will work with instructional designers and micro-adaptive course developers to roll out the courses. Faculty mentors will assist with content contribution and vet the courses for use at the college level, ensuring they can help students achieve academically at the high school and college level. The eight courses will be loaded onto a national course sharing platform so that students can use them at any institution where agreements have been reached to use the platform, according to officials. 

“The courses to be developed will help high school students, who have been sent home because of the coronavirus, to graduate on time,” says Ricketts. “The expert vetting of courses developed for dual enrollment will help those same students stay on track in college.”

TSU Senior Waymon McNeal

Dr. Tom Byl, a TSU Ag professor, is on Ricketts’ team. He says he’s pleased the project is aimed at underserved communities because less than 2 percent of current natural-resource scientists are African American. 

“I think TSU is well suited to lead the effort and address this lack of diversity in STEM disciplines,” says Byl, who is also a research scientist with the US Geological Survey.  “I am proud to be part of that effort and look forward to working with this exceptional team of educators, leaders and scientists.”

TSU senior Waymon McNeal, an Ag major with a concentration in environmental sciences, says he wishes such courses were available when he was in high school. 

“I believe the platform will have a positive impact on those participating,” says McNeal, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “I also think it’s a great way to recruit students” to TSU. 

TSU Senior Kalie Ellis

Senior Kalie Ellis of Ashland City, Tennessee, agrees. She’s also majoring in Ag at TSU, with a concentration in education. 

“Think about all the high school students who don’t know about TSU,” says Ellis. “This platform allows them to see that TSU has an amazing Ag program. And since they’re already taking high school Ag courses, and have a relationship with TSU professors, then why not go there.”

To learn more about TSU’s College of Agriculture, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU helps promote new Agricultural Sciences degree in Fayetteville

FAYETTEVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has partnered with Motlow State Community College to offer an agriculture degree in Fayetteville.

TSU Ag professor Dr. John Ricketts (left), TSU Ag chair Dr. Samuel Nahashon, and Lisa Smith, assistant dean of the Motlow Fayetteville Campus, outside TSU’s mobile agriscience lab. (TSU Media Relations)

Officials with TSU and MSCC have been talking to media and high school teachers about the “2 + 2” program, which allows students to get a bachelor’s in Agricultural Sciences. There have been two open houses about the program, and an “enrollment event” was held June 12 at the MSCC Fayetteville Campus.

“We’re trying to generate as much buzz in the community as possible,” said Dr. John Ricketts, a professor of agricultural sciences at TSU and a facilitator of the TSU-MSCC Ag program.

Ricketts, along with Dr. Samuel Nahashon, the chair of TSU’s Agricultural Sciences Department, traveled to Fayetteville in the university’s mobile agriscience lab earlier this month.

Under the “2 + 2” Ag program, participants get an associate’s degree at MSCC, then have the option of getting a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Sciences from TSU, which can be conveniently done at MSCC.

“The 2 + 2 program is great because it’s going to allow them to continue to get a four-year degree in the field they love of agriculture, but do it by staying close by in Lincoln County,” said Lisa Smith, assistant dean of the Motlow Fayetteville Campus.

TSU professors will teach in a combination of ways that include traveling to Fayetteville and providing instruction remotely, according to TSU officials.

Ricketts and several TSU administrators spoke to Nashville Public Radio (WPLN) about the program this month.

“We make every effort for the students to see and interact with TSU professors, and to gain the same classroom experience they would if they were on TSU’s main campus,” said Dr. Sharon Peters, executive director of Community College Initiatives in the Division of Academic Affairs at TSU.

The program, which is scheduled to start in the fall, is a continued effort by TSU to help students in rural areas meet the demand for trained professionals in different fields.

“We don’t produce, as a country, enough graduates in agriculture to meet all the needs of the employers,” said Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of TSU’s College of Agriculture. “In the rural parts of Tennessee, there are a lot of people engaged in agriculture. This program provides those people access to a higher education.”

The university currently has a similar program at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tennessee, that leads to a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and criminal justice. A program on Motlow’s main campus in Tullahoma, Tennessee, leads to a degree in criminal justice; and one is planned for the Motlow-McMinnville, Tennessee, campus in 2019 that will offer a degree in engineering, with a focus on megatronics.

“TSU is committed to the growth of 2+2 programs because they represent sustained growth in our transfer student population and outreach to our neighbors in Tennessee’s rural communities,” said Dr. Alisa Mosley, interim vice president of Academic Affairs at TSU.

TSU Ag professor Dr. John Ricketts and TSU Ag chair Dr. Samuel Nahashon discuss program with marketing representative Sarah MacYoung with Fayetteville Public Utilities Channel 6. (TSU Media Relations)

In the case of the most recent TSU-MSCC partnership, the degree completion program will target adults who began college but never finished, and traditional age students with an interest in agriculture that would prefer to study close to home.

“Students will be able to finish a four-year degree program, which is required for lots of the different types of jobs they want to go into,” said Ricketts. “It’s a benefit all the way around.”

Peters said students who have an associate’s degree and continue their education usually have a “high rate of completion.”

“They’ve demonstrated they can make it through two years of post-secondary education,” she said. “They’re focused. A lot of these students end up being some of our high achievers.”

The TSU-MSCC Ag program is awaiting final approval from the TSU Board of Trustees.

For more information about the Ag program, contact Lisa Smith at 931-433-9350 or lsmith@mscc.edu.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU partners with Motlow State Community College to offer baccalaureate degree in agricultural sciences

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has partnered with Motlow State Community College to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural sciences in Fayetteville, Tennessee.

TSU officials will be in Fayetteville on Friday, June 1, to promote the program, as well as an open house that will be held June 12 at the MSCC Fayetteville Campus.

Under the “2 + 2” program, participants get an associate’s degree at Motlow, then have the option of getting a bachelor’s degree in agricultural sciences from TSU, which can be conveniently done at the Motlow campus.

TSU professors will teach in a combination of ways that includes traveling to Fayetteville and providing instruction remotely, according to TSU officials.

“We make every effort for the students to see and interact with TSU professors, and to gain the same classroom experience they would if they were on TSU’s main campus,” said Dr. Sharon Peters, executive director of Community College Initiatives in the Division of Academic Affairs at TSU.

The program is a continued effort by TSU to help students in rural areas meet the demand for trained professionals in different fields.

The university currently has a similar program at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tennessee, that leads to a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and criminal justice. A program on Motlow’s main campus in Tullahoma, Tennessee, leads to a degree in criminal justice; and one is planned for the Motlow-McMinnville, Tennessee, campus in 2019 that will offer a degree in engineering, with a focus on megatronics.

“TSU is committed to the growth of 2+2 programs because they represent sustained growth in our transfer student population and outreach to our neighbors in Tennessee’s rural communities,” said Dr. Alisa Mosley, interim vice president of Academic Affairs at TSU

In the case of the most recent TSU-MSCC partnership, the degree completion program will target adults who began college but never finished, and traditional age students with an interest in agriculture that would prefer to study close to home.

“Students will be able to finish a four-year degree program, which is required for lots of the different types of jobs they want to go into,” said Dr. John Ricketts, a professor of agricultural sciences who will be teaching some courses in the “2 + 2” agriculture program. “It’s a benefit all the way around.”

Peters said students who have an associate’s degree and continue their education usually have a “high rate of completion.”

“They’ve demonstrated they can make it through two years of post-secondary education,” she said. “They’re focused. A lot of these students end up being some of our high achievers.”

For more information about the TSU-MSCC program, contact Lisa Smith at 931-433-9350 or lsmith@mscc.edu.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Agriscience Fair provides opportunities to learn, recruit

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Students from area high schools got a chance to showcase their agriculture projects at Tennessee State University’s inaugural Agriscience Fair on Thursday.

Ali Bledsoe, a ninth-grader from Clarkrange High School in Fentress County, receives a check for $500 for taking first place in the plant science category. Presenting the check are Dr. Samuel Nahashon, chair of the Department of Environmental Sciences, left; Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the College of Agriculture; and Dr. John Ricketts, TSU Ag professor and fair organizer. (photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Close to 100 students in grades 9-12 participated in the event sponsored by TSU’s College of Agriculture. The students, from 11 counties, made presentations in categories that included food and nutritional sciences, plant sciences, animal sciences, agricultural engineering and biotechnology. The presentations in each category were judged, with first place winners receiving $500, and $250 for second place.

While the fair was a chance for students to showcase their work, organizers said it was also an opportunity for students to see what TSU has to offer, and hopefully draw them to the university.

“There’s so much out there we do in terms of research, in terms of addressing national priorities,” said Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of TSU’s College of Agriculture. “A lot of times the young people in the school systems don’t know that. So we’re trying to get them to our place … and see how we can blend their goals with what we have here.”

Dr. John Ricketts, a TSU Ag professor and organizer of the fair, said the students got a chance to interact with some of the College of Agriculture’s faculty and discuss topics related to their areas of interest.

“So, in addition to recruiting, it’s really helping them with their research interest in the areas they’re studying,” Ricketts said.

Tenth-grader Elise Russ showcases presentation on diabetes and eating healthier. Russ says she plans to attend TSU. (photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Elise Russ, a 10th-grader from Hillsboro High School in Nashville who was a presenter at the fair, said she plans to attend TSU and major in agriculture. She said she’s been inspired to work in that field after spending time gardening with her grandmother.

“I like agriculture,” said Russ, whose presentation was about diabetes and eating healthier. “I used to always be in the garden with my grandmother; I just loved doing that with her.”

One of the winner’s at the fair was Ali Bledsoe, a ninth-grader from Clarkrange High School in Fentress Country. She got first place in the plant science category for her presentation about “organic matter in the soil.”

Bledsoe said a large part of her interest in agriculture is due to her older brother, who was in Future Farmers of America, or FFA.

“He introduced me to this,” said Bledsoe, who is also in FFA. “He did a project sort of like this his freshman year.”

To learn more about TSU’s College of Agriculture, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.