Students to get hands-on work at Stewart Orchids

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 20, 2000

Some Alcorn State University students may receive first-hand horticulture experience at Stewart Orchids in Natchez. &uot;To actually get to experience and see the entire process on a daily basis is a very, very valuable educational opportunity for our students,&uot; said Dr. Clinton Bristow Jr., president of Alcorn State University.

Bristow visited Natchez Tuesday for a ceremonial passing of the deed for the future site of the university’s masters of business administration building in Natchez from the Natchez Board of Aldermen and the Adams County Board of Supervisors.

While in town, he also took his first tour of the newly opened Stewart Orchids.

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The company’s owners, Steve McNerney and Mary Jo McNerney say they would like to have students from Alcorn State University take internships at its greenhouses on Foster Mound Road.

In return the university will use Stewart Orchids’ success as tool to draw other horticulture businesses to Adams County, Bristow said.

The university will also serve as a resource to the company.

&uot;We have the model, we have the technology and we have the university based research to support it all,&uot; Bristow said.

Alcorn State University can offer Stewart Orchids assistance in such areas as disease control, plant genetics, marketing and financial pricing, Bristow said.

Stewart Orchids moved its operations from California to Natchez this fall, and workers are almost completely unpacked at the new location, Steve McNerney said.

While in Natchez, the couple said they wanted to make good use of whatever help Alcorn State University could provide.

&uot;The key is to get a good healthy plant that grows as quick as possible,&uot; Mary Jo McNerney said.

While in Natchez, the McNerneys said they would like to further improve their product with more horticulture research.

&uot;We would love to have a relationship (with Alcorn State University,&uot; Mary Jo McNerney said. Research on the orchids can in turn help with production and &uot;that’s the key.&uot;