Jones College expands its agricultural roots with state’s first Livestock Show Team  

ELLISVILLE –Agricultural science courses have always been a part of the curriculum and lifestyle at Jones College since Jones County Agricultural High School was established in 1911. Now, the two-year college is expanding its agricultural roots with the creation of the state’s first, Livestock Show Team. Six Jones College students, Karley Cotton of Heidelberg, Lilli Dixon of Smithdale, Bri Fenton of Ellisville, Hayden Kilgore of Taylorsville, Faith Sullivan of Mize and Tucker Woods of Seminary, are the first members of the newly formed Livestock Show Team at Jones College.

“I’m ready for the new challenge and to widen my knowledge on a different breed of cattle,” said Karley Cotton. She began helping on a neighbor’s farm at the age of 11, showing Black Angus cattle. Enjoying the opportunity, her parents launched out on their own buying Simmental cattle for Karley to show. In 2021, she earned the title of Mississippi Junior Simmental Association Queen and a 2022-23 tuition scholarship to be on the Jones College Livestock Show Team.

Her story is like most of the members of the JC Livestock Show Team who all have been raising cows since they were at least eight years old. As Animal Science and/or Agricultural Science majors, they are preparing for a career in the agricultural industry. Now more than ever, Jones College Agriculture Science instructor and advisor for the Livestock Show Team, Leanne Kilgore, said the role of agriculture is very important in our daily lives. Educating the public on the role of farmers has really become a vital priority.

“Generally, the public is so far removed from agriculture; two or three generations removed from farm experiences. They don’t have any idea where their food sources are coming from. We need to do a better job of being the voice of agriculture and promoting our farmers,” said Kilgore.

Adding the Livestock Show Team for Jones College students already invested in the agricultural lifestyle provides more opportunities to continue competing, expanding their knowledge, and developing an ag science network for their futures. The six-member team will care for the daily needs of four Red Angus heifers and compete throughout the state and region. Plans also include a trip to Oklahoma City for the annual Cattlemen’s Congress in January.

“The students on this team have a tremendous amount of responsibility,” said Jones College’s Farm and Cattle Manger, Jason Mills. “They will live on campus and the animals will be their responsibility, even on holidays. They will wash, feed and care for the animals’ daily needs, even when school is closed.”

Freshman, Faith Sullivan of Mize said she enjoys having the opportunity and responsibilities that come with being in the “ring” again. The criminal justice major has been showing cattle since she was 11 years old through 4-H and the Future Farmers of America (FFA). She’s won numerous Sale of Champions awards and agriculture accomplishments, including the title of Watermelon Teen Queen 2020. Sullivan said she may change her major to animal science now that she is on the JC Livestock Show Team.

“I thought I was done showing after Dixie Nationals this year, but I’ve always been interested in investigating; I want to know why things happen and why people do the things they do. I could do farm investigating of stolen animals with my agriculture background. Regardless, I’m just excited to be on the team at Jones,” said Sullivan.

For Bri Fenton of Fenton Farms in Ellisville, her goal is to take over and expand the family business. Being on the team is just another way to reach that goal. She has been raising Simmentals for the family’s cow/calf program and training horses since she was nine-years old.

“I’ve always enjoyed showing cattle, traveling and meeting new people. I really like to venture out and see what all there is because there’s always something new to learn,” said Fenton. “It was really exciting in Oklahoma recently, meeting all the big name people.”

Lilli Dixon of Smithdale, the former president of the Mississippi Junior Red Angus Association and Dixie National Sale of Junior Champions winner, said she loves the idea of establishing a new gateway for college students to continue to work in agriculture.

“I would like us to be something people see and say, ‘Wow! That’s awesome and I want to be a part of it!’ They can look at us at Jones College and see agriculture can be fun, you can learn a lot, and it can offer you new experiences,” said Dixon.

The barn and related facilities for the Livestock Show Team are currently under construction. However, that will not delay training and preparations for the newly established team that is ready to show off Jones College’s newest agriculture programs. The college is also preparing to re-establish the Livestock Judging Team and establish a Rodeo Team in the next five years.

Livestock Show Team Advisor, Leanne Kilgore (right) with team members pictured left to right, Faith Sullivan, Bri Fenton, Karley Cotton and Lilli Dixon along with Hayden Kilgore and Tucker Woods who are not pictured.

Jones College offers new Diesel Equipment Technology program

ELLISVILLE – The new Diesel Equipment Technology program will now be offered at Jones College beginning fall of 2022. The Diesel Equipment Technology Program offers instruction and hands-on experience providing students with the competencies required to maintain and repair a variety of industrial diesel equipment, commercial trucks and construction equipment. Assistant Dean of the College of Agriculture & Industrial Services, Barry Bradshaw explained every heavy diesel repair shop needs someone with credentials to perform warranty repairs, which is one reason Jones College has added the Diesel Equipment Technology Program.

“Industry demand is very high for this type of repair program,” said Bradshaw. “There are five, local heavy diesel shops where students could seek employment. There are also countless shops within the state and nationwide.”

The new Diesel Technology Program will cover large diesel engines in the transportation industry. However, students will primarily work on, but they will not be limited to working on over the road truck engines.

Bradshaw said, “Plans include maintaining the college’s tractor trailers from the Commercial Truck Driving program to give the students an opportunity to work on real world applications. Of course, the Diesel Technology Program will also offset some of the repair and maintenance costs for the Commercial Truck Driving program.”

Students can earn a Technical Certificate or an Associate in Applied Science degree at the successful completion of this new Diesel Technology Program on the Ellisville campus.  Additionally, Jones College also offers the Light Duty Diesel Program which applies to diesel engines in automotive applications. Teaching the new diesel repair program will be Brad Ellzey, who has shop foreman experience at Burroughs Diesel and Kirk Sharplin who owns a business refurbishing large trucks.

For more information check out the website

Jones College Campus Police Chief signs off for retirement

ELLISVILLE – After serving the Pine Belt as a law enforcement officer for the last 28 years, Jones College Campus Police Chief, Stan Livingston signed off for the last time on June 30, 2022. The Jones College campus police department and the Student Affairs Office coordinated a special color guard flag ceremony witnessed by friends, family and fellow officers before Chief Livingston signed off on his radio for the last time, connected to the Jones County dispatch for all his fellow officers to hear.

“It was bittersweet,” said Chief Livingston. “I’m blessed to be at this point in my life and I’m blessed to be around good people at Jones, and all through my career. I just hope I’ve reached some people and made a difference.”

Livingston served the college for 12 years but his prior service in law enforcement includes working for the Laurel and Hattiesburg police departments, the Jones County Sheriff’s Office, and the Jones County School System as South Jones High School’s Resource Officer. Additionally, he served in the U.S. Army Airborne Division, National Guard 624th QuarterMaster Co. and was honorably discharged in 1995. While serving in the Army, Livingston earned the 1992 Adjutant General Military Leadership Award and the 1991 Army Achievement Medal-Leadership Award.

“After serving in the military, his dream was to be a police officer,” explained Livingston’s wife, Tina, who also works at Jones College. “We had three young children, a new house, two vehicles and with God’s support, he did it! Our kids never went without. They didn’t always have everything they wanted but we always had what we needed. We are very proud of him!”

Tina Livingston shared, the family is also very grateful Stan was able to leave the job he loves in good physical shape. Knowing he risked his life daily for others, she shared, was something he loved doing.

“He worked long hours and sometimes 24/7 when he worked in narcotics. I’m not going to say it wasn’t hard on us, but he always made it work. He has lots of stories to tell and accomplishments,” said Tina Livingston.

Some of those accolades include being the 2015 Jones College Administrator of the Year Award. In law enforcement, he earned the 2006 Bill Robinson Award – Sportsmanship Award/Dog Detector K-9 Trials, the 2005 Laurel Police Department Officer of the Year Award, the 2004 National USPCA Team Competition-4th in the nation, the 2004 Jones County Sheriff’s Deputy of the Year Award, 2003 USPCA Canine Sportsmanship Award and the 1999 Hattiesburg Police Department Academy Leadership Award/Top of Class.

“He did his part in law enforcement and in the military,” said JC campus police officer, Kim Stewart. “He paid his dues and now he gets to sit back and enjoy life. We’re going to witness him being able to retire, walk away in good health with his family. That’s important to me.”

His Jones College colleagues gave him several retirement gifts to enjoy in his off time. However, the retired chief of campus police said his wife gave him a long list of “Honey Do’s” to keep him busy in between his fishing and hunting trips.


Pathways to nursing eased as Jones College partners with area nursing programs 

ELLISVILLE – The Covid-19 pandemic pushed a strained medical community into crisis two years ago and it also forced area nursing programs to search for ways to help more nurses obtain degrees. The University of Southern Mississippi recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Alcorn University, anticipating Jones College and Pearl River Community College could also assist with the plan to maximize resources to best help nursing students exceed their goals.

“Nursing education is the most important thing we do in the community,” said Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith. “We have a long history of working together with our community and there’s nothing more important than providing excellent health care. A great number of talented students can benefit from this exceptional partnership.”

The new partnership affords solutions for nursing students faced with obstacles in obtaining their degree, with the end goal of finding solutions to end the critical needs in health care and access to services. Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Professions at USM, Dr. Lachel Story said the partnership offers two pathways for USM undergraduate nursing students seeking their first nursing degree options to finish their degree when obstacles would normally put their degree on hold.

“We turn away many highly qualified applicants every semester, like many nursing programs, because we have more qualified applicants than we have the capacity or resources to enroll them,” said Story. “This pathway will provide those students an opportunity to complete their initial nursing degree with one of the three college partners and return to USM for a B.S.N. for a seamless process.”

Typically, nursing applicants who were not accepted into USM’s program could have applied to other schools. Unfortunately, most students were forced to wait at least a semester to begin the application process again. The new partnership will allow USM nursing administration another enrollment option for students. Instead of denying nursing applicants, students will be offered the option to enroll into another partner nursing program.

“We are looking beyond ourselves and what’s best for the nursing profession and our state,” Story said.

The second pathway allows students who have difficulty in nursing courses to complete their degree with an associate or practical nursing degree at Jones College or Pearl River Community College and then return to USM for their B.S.N.

“There are some students who are academically talented, who can have difficulty for a variety of reasons, which can put them in a potion which is challenging for them to overcome. These students will be identified before they fail a course or the program, and they will be offered an opportunity to finish their initial nursing degree with these colleges and then return to USM for a B.S.N. with the same seamless process,” said Story.

When nursing students quit before completion, it takes longer for them to enter the workforce and it limits financial aid options. By increasing the students’ opportunity to succeed with additional support and these new options to complete their degree will allow them to begin working in the medical field a lot sooner.

“Some students have taken courses in other programs like Psychology, Sociology and Healthcare Administration while they wait to be accepted into the nursing program. They usually end up getting degrees in those fields, but they really want to be a nurse,” said Jones College’s Assistant Dean for the College of Health Sciences, Teresa McDonald. “This partnership is all about the qualified students’ desire to become a nurse and helping them reach their goal.”

Additionally, Smith recognized the impact this new partnership can have on ending the nursing shortage by helping students reach their desired educational and career goals.

“We’ve all been touched by nurses that have been educated in these outstanding programs at USM, our community colleges, JC and PRCC, and at Alcorn University,” said Smith. “We know we’re going to have a solid impact on our state with this partnership by ensuring more competent, caring nurses can earn their degrees with the support to exceed their goals and ease the nursing shortage.”

For more information about the partnership For more information about Jones College’s nursing programs click on these two websites or


Jones College grad shines in the global spotlight

ELLISVILLE – If you’re streaming movies on Amazon and other Reel One Entertainment services located in Canada, you may find a familiar face in the movie, Love, Game, Match. Oak Grove resident and 2022 Jones College graduate, Emma Burge plays Ariella in the newly released movie.

“Working on the set of the movie, Love, Game, Match was an incredible and extremely affirming experience! I had a lot of ‘aha moments’ where I felt like I was exactly where I wanted to be, doing what I was born to do. The cast and crew were beyond welcoming, and they are people I keep in touch with daily. I really appreciate the kindness and encouragement they offered and showed me throughout filming, and we continue to be in touch today,” said Emma Burge.

Success in the film business didn’t come easy or quick for Burge. The Oak Grove resident began acting at 11 years of age after responding to an “open call” for children for the Mississippi Made Film, As I Lay Dying.  Despite not getting a part in the William Faulkner novel inspired film, it opened the doors for the Oak Grove resident for another project. She was later cast in the James Franco remake of the screen adaptation of William Faulkner’s, The Sound and the Fury.  

“Being on the set, Emma said she fell in love with the process and decided she wanted to explore acting more,” said her father, Dr. Ben Burge. “Emma sought agency representation and is currently a client with Action Talent Agency.”

The rising star with long red-hair is the daughter of Jones College’s Director of Bands, Dr. Ben Burge and his wife Cindy. They explained after Emma fell in love with acting, she has continually found her way back to the stage. Whether it’s to dance, sing or play the flute, Emma has embraced all the Fine Arts.

Her dad shared, “Emma was a theatre student in middle school and high school. She credits her middle school acting teacher, Emily Wright of Northwest Rankin Middle School for inspiring her. Ms. Wright is a consummate professional and a wonderful arts educator. Emma was inspired by her and admires her middle school acting teacher.”

Over the last nine years, Emma has been cast in a variety of projects, including horror, romantic comedy and sci-fi projects on screen and commercial projects for television and print. Additionally, she has years of modeling experience, and she has enjoyed a wealth of opportunities to work with talented photographers and fellow models. Emma has worked alongside Loretta Divine, Janet Gretsky, and Mississippi actor, Kylen Davis. In the film, Don’t Kill It, Emma worked for the horror genre director and creative genius, Mike Mendez. Additionally, Emma has worked on films for actor-director John Krasinski, Tate Taylor, and New Orleans filmmaker, Nathan Tape. She worked alongside Christine Prosperi (Degrassi, Bring it On), and Dale Moss (The Bachelorette).

The 2022 Jones College music industry graduate has 14 years of competitive dance training, she also plays the flute in addition to being a member of the color guard and drum major in both high school and college. On top of it all, her talents include being a vocalist with the JC Jazz Band and she was a member of the Bobcat Brigade leadership and ambassador group for the college.

“I loved my experience at Jones! I enjoyed my service in the Bobcat Brigade and the Maroon Typhoon Marching Band. I made lifelong friends and professional connections I will always have while at JC. I know that my first two years of college have set me up for success along my path. I will always be thankful for my time at Jones. I am a proud alumna!” said Burge.

She added that access to the recording studio and individualized instruction in the music industry program were key factors in choosing Jones to continue her education. Also, being close to New Orleans and accessible to auditions were another major factor for staying in the Pine Belt. She encourages young performers to pursue their passion and learn from the “no’s.”

“I’m excited that this film (Love, Game, Match) is the one that lifted me back up in confidence affirming that I can do this and that not every audition will be a ‘no.’ I’m honored for being cast in this film and was trusted with the role of Ariella. I’m very thankful for the support of my family and friends that have reached out, watched the movie, and have been supportive behind the scenes for the auditions and trips to the film set.”

Currently, Burge said she is working on a television series this summer, which is filming in New Orleans, along with a few other projects in the works. Her last feature film, Off Ramp, is currently in post-production. She was cast with veteran Actor Reid Diamond, Scott Turner Schofield, and Ashely Smith (fashion model and actress).  Next fall, Emma will head off to the New York Film Academy to earn her certification in film production and acting. To learn more about the rising actress, check out Emma Burge’s IMDb bio at