If the success of this year’s Ginning Schools is measured by the enthusiasm of participants, the entire year can be deemed a win-win situation for all parties.
That was the general feeling after the Stoneville Ginners School concluded its session in mid-June. The two-day event attracted 75 students for the regular curriculum, as well as the Continuing Education (CE) class.
Attendance also was good at the Western Ginners School in Mesilla Park, N.M., and Southwest Ginners School in Lubbock, Texas. Forty students attended the Western School, while 193 were enrolled at the Southwest School.
“We were pleased with the overall attendance at all of the schools, and I think it’s because of the timely information that was offered,” says Harrison Ashley, executive vice president of the National Cotton Ginners Association (NCGA).
Cooperators for the schools are USDA-ARS, NCGA and its member associations, National Cotton Council, Cotton Incorporated, gin machinery and equipment manufacturers and suppliers, National Institute of Food and Agriculture and select land grant universities. NCGA coordinates all aspects of the schools’ programs.
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Tommy Valco, cotton technology transfer coordinator at USDA-ARS in Stoneville, Miss., has been a part of the Ginning Schools since 1992 and also plays a key role in curriculum development and coordination of the schools. He continues to be impressed at the diversity of the student population – especially those who participate in the Level I session, which covers the basic introduction to ginning.
This session usually attracts new gin managers and workers, along with seed company representatives and several non-ginners with a connection to agriculture.
The Continuing Education sessions have seen the largest growth.
“I think the growth in the CE sessions has been remarkable,” says Valco. “This is where you have gin managers who want to have a refresher course on gin technology. In CE, we are able to spend time on specific topics concerning gin operation, management and regulatory issues.”
Another goal of the Ginning Schools centers on developing a curriculum that is updated each year. This process is helped along by the survey given to students at the conclusion of the school.
“I’ll never forget one of the responses we received recently from a student,” says Valco. “It really made me feel good. The student said he liked the school because the instructor knew how to talk and communicate in a way that made it easy for everyone to understand. That’s always a major goal in all of the sessions.”
While regular course curriculum is divided into Levels I, II and III, depending on the student’s experience, the goal is to present a broad-based view of a gin’s operation.
According to Valco, the school tries to delve into specific aspects of ginning as well as give industry updates that show how ginning contributes to the overall economic health of the U.S. cotton industry.
“We try to talk about general topics, such as fiber quality, and show how ginning plays a part in that process,” he says.
Without much fanfare, the ginning sector has tackled several issues that affect fiber quality, such as working with producers to minimize contamination during the transfer of modules from the field to the gin.
“This industry knows that it plays a major role in maintaining the United States’ reputation for producing high-quality cotton,” says Valco.
Contact Tommy Horton at (901) 767-4020 or email@example.com.