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MACA awards scholarships, names Hall of Fame inductees

The scholarship recipients are two Mississippi State University students: Tyler Towles and Ben Sperry.

During its annual meeting in Starkville, Miss., the Mississippi Agricultural Consultants Association awarded scholarships and inducted two members into its Hall of Fame.

The scholarship recipients are two Mississippi State University students: Tyler Towles, who graduated from Deer Creek High School in Mississippi in 2011 and Ben Sperry, who graduated from Citrus High School in Inverness, Fla. in 2010.

Additionally, MACA inducted two long-time members into its Hall of Fame: Charlie Craig and Bruce Pittman.

Tyler Towles received a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Sciences, Integrated Pest Management from MSU in 2016. He since has been in the school’s master’s program with the Department of Entomology. He recently was propelled into the PhD program with the research program he was worked on for the past two years under Angus Catchot.

From 2011 to 2016, in addition to his academic days at MSU, Towles worked for Dow Agrosciences at the Southern Regional Technical Center, performing small plot research, application equipment calibration, weed management, trial ratings and scouting of vegetables, corn, cotton, soybeans and grain sorghum.

Flanked by MACA’s Bill Pellum, left, and Trey Bullock, scholarship recipient Tyler Towles graduated from Deer Creek High School, Mississippi in 2011.

In the summer of 2016, he was a student worker at MSU, continuing the same type of work he did with Dow, and from then to the present he has been a graduate research assistant at MSU. He now works to complete his PhD project and continues small plot research while aiding with the research of his professors and fellow students.

Towles presentations to his credit are from his research project: The Landscape Level Contributions of Corn, Cotton and Soybeans in Mixed Production Systems of Bollworm Populations.

He was invited to the Producer Row Crop Update, two Entomological Societies of America conferences, Mid-South Association Wheat and Feed Grain Scientist, Mississippi Future of Agriculture Graduate Student Competition, Beltwide Cotton Conference and the Mississippi Entomological Association.

His awards include: MSU Entomology and Plant Pathology Club outstanding graduate student in 2016, Mississippi Entomology Association First Place graduate student paper competition and 2017 Mid-South Association of Wheat and Feed Grain Scientists Third Place graduate student paper competition.

His memberships include: The Entomology Society of America, Mississippi Entomological Association-student affairs chairman, MSU Entomology and Plant Pathology Club president, and the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology student representative.

Flanked by MACA’s Bill Pellum, left, and Trey Bullock, scholarship recipient Ben Sperry graduated from Citrus High School in Inverness, Florida in 2010.

Ben Sperry received a batchelor’s degree in Plant Science, majoring in Crop Ecology and a minor in Soil and Water Science from the University of Florida. He later received a master’s degree in Agronomy, specializing in weed science from UF. He is now working on a PhD in Agronomy at MSU under the direction of Dan Reynolds.

From May 2010 to February 2014, Sperry worked for USDA-NRCS at the Plant Materials Center in Brooksville, Fla., as a biological science aid for field greenhouse and lab experiments.

He also aided with the production of forage and native plant materials for distribution. During this time, he also was a summer intern at the Plant Ecology Lab with the UF/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

In 2014 he was an undergraduate research assistant, helping with field research in the Invasion Ecology Lab and also worked with the Gainesville Regional Utilities as a water/waste water intern, requiring him to lead the invasive plant control program in the Payne’s Prairie Treatment Wetland Restoration Project. Sperry was a UF graduate research assistant in 2015, conducting field and greenhouse research.

He is now a graduate assistant at MSU, conducting field and greenhouse agronomic research with soybeans and cotton.

Sperry maintained a 4.00 GPA academic standing throughout his educational career and now has several publications to his credit: The Effect of Droplet Size and Sprayer Type on Partical Drift, Structure-Activity Relationship of Pyridinecarboxylic acid herbicides, Relationship-Activity of Four Triclopyr formulations, Effect of Sequential Applications of Oxidase-Inhibiting Herbicides on Palmar Amaranth control and peanut response, Sesamee Tolerance to Preplant Applications of 2,4-D and Dicamba, Influence of Planting Depth and Application Timing on S-metolachlor Injury in Sesamee, Nozzle Carrier Volume and Weed Size Effect on Glufosinate Efficacy, Effect of Nozzle, Carrier Volume and Cover Crop Residue on Residual Herbicide Efficacy and Pollination of Sesamee Plants.

Sperry is affiliated with the Weed Science Society of America, Southern Weed Science Society, Florida Weed Science Society, Alpha Gamma Rho, and Gamma Sigma Delta Honors Society.

Every year MACA awards up to two $2,000 scholarships, to a MSU student majoring in an agricultural discipline at the under-graduate, graduate or post-graduate level. The independent crop consultant association-sponsored scholarship program began in the early 1980s, and is designed to encourage and develop highly talented MSU students in agriculture.

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