MSU youth institute gets alumni support


A pair of Mississippi State University alums have rolled out a plan to raise funds in support of the World Food Prize Mississippi Youth Institute (WFP-MSYI) at MSU.

Barry and Lana Knight of Cordova, Mississippi, recently announced plans to create the Barry and Lana Knight World Food Prize Mississippi Youth Institute Fund, which will provide support for engaging Mississippi’s high school students through MSU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“We are pleased to be the state’s host for this incredibly valuable program that engages high school students in real-world problems and prepares them as future leaders,” said Scott Willard, associate dean and professor for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and WFP-MSYI state coordinator. “The Knight’s generous support for this program is an outstanding demonstration of their investment in our youth and the welfare of people around the world.”

MSU served as host campus for the first WFP-MSYI in March.

Student participants had the opportunity to present their research and recommendations, all while networking with other student leaders. Students also took part in educational sessions and were able to take interactive tours, and meet professional researchers and innovators.

The contribution from the Knight family is aimed at defraying the costs of the institute, such as brochures, literature, meals and transportation.

The fund will also provide scholarship support for WFP-MSYI student participants to pursue a college degree in agriculture or other related life science, in addition to a stipend for a faculty or staff member to oversee the program.

Barry Knight - a 1988 MSU alum - was recognized as the 2011 MSU Alumni Fellow for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He currently serves as senior vice president of commercial operations in North America for Indigo, a Charleston, Massachusetts-based organization that specializes in optimizing agricultural production through plant microbiomes.

Lana Knight also graduated from MSU in 1988 with a bachelor’s in elementary education.

Prior to their most recent contribution, the couple In 2013 presented the Barry and Lana Knight endowed scholarships in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Education.