Delta State discontinues programs at Coahoma County Higher Education Center

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Feeling the pressure of nearly $2.2 million in state budget cuts, Delta State University has ended its participation in the Coahoma County Higher Education Center (CCHEC) partnership in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Historically, CCHEC was a partnership between Delta State and Coahoma Community College (CCC) in Clarksdale. It was designed to enhance the outreach capabilities of both institutions by expanding educational and cultural opportunities for the people of Coahoma County and the surrounding communities.

CCC has now taken over program management at the center.

“The essential cause for Delta State to cease its operation at the CCHEC is directly related to the state budget cuts,” said Delta State President William N. LaForge. “We began the new fiscal year on July 1 with $2.2 million less operating budget funding than last July 1. For a university with a budget of our size, that is a huge reduction. This is just one of several strategies that we are employing to offset the budget cuts.”

Delta State enjoyed a 15-year relationship of providing a variety of programs at the center in conjunction with CCC.

“I’ve had the opportunity to speak with a number of Clarksdale and Coahoma County leaders about the need for this change and transition, and I have written the very generous donors who helped make this project come alive a decade and a half ago,” added LaForge.  “We’ve had some wonderful successes along the way, and we have relished our relationship with the Clarksdale and Coahoma County communities.”

LaForge said Delta State intends to continue its longstanding relationship with Clarksdale and Coahoma County by providing a wide array of programs to the local citizens through opportunities at the university’s main campus in Cleveland.

Dr. Charles McAdams, Delta State’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said it was a difficult decision to draw back from the CCHEC partnership.

“Delta State has been very proud of its commitment to Clarksdale through the CCHEC and our partnership with Coahoma Community College,” said McAdams. “Our desire to work with CCC and to support Clarksdale has not changed, but our financial ability to have a physical presence in Clarksdale has changed.”

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Zoeller to intern with Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary

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Having just wrapped up her senior season playing Delta State softball, Madison Zoeller knows the importance of teamwork in the circle of life.

On a team, every player has a role. Whether it’s behind the plate, on the field or from the sidelines, individuals mesh together like cogs in a machine to achieve a desired goal. They depend on one another for success and survival amongst the toughest competition in their environment. Zoeller may be hanging up her softball cleats, but she will be taking on a bigger role by helping organisms find their place in the ecosystem.

Beginning July 17, Zoeller, an environmental science major at Delta State, will join a new team — the staff at Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary in Hubert, North Carolina, where she will be interning. Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary is a non-profit organization that rehabilitates injured animals with the intent of releasing each animal back into the wild. The organization also provides educational programs and presentations to teach the public about the native local wildlife, ecology, environment, natural resources and backyard habitat creation.

During her internship, Zoeller will learn to rehabilitate and care for wildlife by performing functions such as feeding, weighing, bandaging, and administering medications to animals. She will assist in wildlife presentations and programs and help conduct tours of the sanctuary. She will also learn to work with the non-releasable animals and birds used in programs/presentations and assist in the recovery program for raptors.

“I am thrilled about starting this internship,” Zoeller said. “To me, this is the beginning of a long career in environmental science and wildlife biology, and it’s my way of making the world a better place. It starts with the little things, and the little things may be something as simple as caring for an abandoned animal. My long term goal is to make my community understand the importance of every living thing.”

Dr. Nina Baghai-Riding, professor of biology and environmental science at Delta State, explained more about the opportunity Zoeller will have to care for wildlife and educate others during her internship.

“Back in March, Madison mentioned that she was taking an internship at the Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary in North Carolina,” Riding said. “During the internship, she will learn how to take care of and rehabilitate shorebirds, waterfowl, raptors, small mammals, and reptiles. Some of her training will include resilience with animal care, choosing appropriate medication for the animals, and maintaining the raptor facility. She also will be able to train volunteers, assist with future planning, work with large groups, and run the sanctuary in absence of staff.”

While Zoeller’s internship will come to an end August 26, she hopes to continue her passion for wildlife by pursuing graduate studies in wildlife biology in the future. For now, she has accepted a position in waste management in the Nashville area and will start work after her internship ends.

For more information about the environmental science program at Delta State, contact Dr. Nina Baghai-Riding at 662-846-4797 or For more information about Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary, visit

BPAC receives more than $5,000 in grant funding for summer arts programming

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The Janice Wyatt Mississippi Summer Arts Institute at the Bologna Performing Arts Center was granted more than $5,000 in funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission for the 2017-2018 school year.

These grants are a portion of the $1.3 million in grants the Commission will award in 2017-2018 and will be used to present Chuck Galey, an award-winning Mississippi illustrator and children’s book author from Jackson at the 2017 PLUS Camp. Further funding will be used for the 2018 CORE Arts camp, which will open to 12-18 year old artists in June of next year.

The grants are made possible by continued funding from the Mississippi State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“Arts organizations throughout the state of Mississippi play a pivotal role in sharing the power of the arts with people from all walks of life,” said Malcolm White, executive director of MAC. “The arts are for everyone, and the Mississippi Arts Commission is pleased to support arts organizations committed to growing the presence of the arts in their communities.”

Now in its 20th year of operation, the arts programs at the Janice Wyatt Mississippi Summer Arts Institute are held on the campus of Delta State University, and function as a significant draw to DSU and the Bologna Performing Arts Center.

Each year, MSAI provides arts education opportunities for more than 175 participants ranging in age from 5 to 18. PLUS Camp is a week-long day camp for children ages 5-11 that began Monday, June 17. The 2017 PLUS Camp is currently at full capacity, but a final free performance that is open to the public will be held on Saturday, July 22, at 10 a.m. on the mainstage of the Bologna Performing Arts Center.

Follow Your Heart Arts Program partners with DMI

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The Follow Your Heart Arts Program, launched by Warner Brothers recording artist Charlie Worsham and funded by a grant from the Country Music Association Foundation, recently completed the first season of partnership with the DMI Entertainment Industry program at Delta State University.

The mission of the Follow Your Heart program is to enrich and empower the lives of young people living in Grenada County through music education, music business career exploration, and the study of the rich history of Mississippi music.

The DMI works with the Follow Your Heart Arts Program by connecting entertainment industry majors who provide instruction and mentoring to students in the program.

In addition to the Follow Your Heart Arts Program, Worsham, a native of Grenada, also founded the Follow Your Heart Scholarship Fund to provide financial support to Grenada youth who dream of a career in the arts. In late 2016 he hosted the inaugural Follow Your Heart Scholarship Fund Gala, which benefited the fund. Since starting the campaign, Worsham has raised approximately $60,000.

“I realize this is the most important work I’ll ever get to do,” Worsham said.

The idea for the fund was sparked in Worsham during a conversation with a class of teenagers at a high school in Grenada when one girl was too embarrassed to verbalize her dream of acting on Broadway. Worsham said it broke his heart.

“The kids in my hometown need to have hope. And if the kids in my hometown see me doing it, they need to know they can do it, too,” he said.

Worsham most recent CD, “Beginning of Things,” was released on Warner Brothers Records in April.

For more information on Worsham’s Follow Your Heart Scholarship Fund, visit To learn more about the Follow Your Heart Arts program, visit

The DMI offers a B.S. in Entertainment Industry Studies degree in the College of Arts & Sciences at Delta State. The focus of the DMI is to provide students with a broad and thorough education in the technological, creative, and business areas of the music and entertainment industry. For information, contact (662) 846-4579 or visit

DMI student to intern with Yokohama Theatre Group in Tokyo

By | Delta Music Institute, General, Students, Uncategorized | No Comments

While many students across the nation are enjoying the carefree vibes of summer vacation, Delta State student Chris Autry is hard at work preparing for his internship in Tokyo, Japan, next fall.

Beginning Sept. 6, Autry, a senior Delta Music Institute major from Picayune, will be working with the Yokohama Theatre Group doing live and recorded sound for live performances and video recording. He will also assist with mixing and mastering audio for video as well as video editing.

Originally founded in 1900, the Yokohama Theatre Group is located in Yokohama, Japan, just south of Tokyo. As Japan’s capital city, Tokyo is a mix of modern and traditional society – a change from the cotton fields and never-ending sunsets of the Delta. But, the change in culture is also what attracted Autry. He chose to apply for an internship in Tokyo after visiting friends that lived in Tokyo and Osaka.

“After visiting, I realized that Japan was where I eventually wanted to move to and live,” Autry said. “I considered other places within Japan such as Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, and a couple of more places.”

After some further research and a little help from his friends, he found his dream internship. While studying abroad, Autry hopes he can inspire future students to experience new cultures.

“I will also be studying abroad learning the language and hopefully making a study abroad program for other students to be able to come to Japan and experience the same magic that I have,” Autry said. “I hope that I can also share with other students from Delta State some interviews as well as some videos to show a different view of how amazing Japan is.”

DMI Director Tricia Walker said she looks forward to Autry sharing his experiences with other Delta State students when he returns.

“Chris transferred to Delta State from another institution and from day one has been very proactive in his degree path,” said Tricia Walker, director of the DMI. “Having visited Japan before, he took the initiative to seek out an internship position there in his field. He’ll have lots to share with our other students when he returns.”

For more information about the DMI, contact Tricia Walker at 662-846-4579 or