RAYMOND – Christopher Lockhart is as plugged into the “connected” world as any self-respecting millennial. But, he hasn’t forgotten his love of the outdoors since graduating from Hinds just a few years ago.
“Growing up, I was one of those kids playing outside – digging in the dirt, bringing bugs in the house,” Lockhart said. “I caught a lot of stuff. Right now, even, I have a pet snapping turtle.”
That passion for enjoying a beautiful day on land or sea fuels both his jobs these days, teaching biology at Clinton High School and owning Capital City Kayaks, which offers tours of local waterways including the Pearl River and the reservoir.
“It’s a way to get people accustomed to the water,” he said of his business, started three years ago as an extension of his many outdoor hobbies as a kid. “There are pockets of hidden gems around here to see in a kayak where you feel like you’re not even in the city.”
Lockhart graduated from Murrah High School in 2008, then honed his aptitude for math and science at Hinds before earning a bachelor’s degree in biology education from Mississippi State University in 2012.
“It was a wonderful transition,” he said of his Hinds experience.
He credits his experiences in the Honors Institute and the Gamma Lambda chapter of Phi Theta Kappa on the Raymond Campus for becoming a well-rounded student – in particular the community service projects that open Honors students’ eyes to the world.
“I love all those instructors,” he said. “They gave me the opportunity to go to Costa Rica and study environmental science for free. And I got to kayak there, which was the highlight of my trip right there. We saw a sloth coming down a tree, which was a rare sight.
“We did a lot of team and character-building activities. It was definitely an experience being able to learn from those people, the kinds of people where you’re definitely not the smartest person in the room.”
Retired biology instructor and Honors dean Kristi Sather-Smith remembers the trip with Lockhart to Costa Rica well.
“That’s when I learned about how passionate he is about all things living,” Sather-Smith said. “Chris always took every opportunity to learn and ran with it. He never wasted time, but never seemed to be in a hurry.”
Starting his education at Hinds eased him into his higher education and offered a multitude of perspectives from peers.
“Hinds offered a four-year feel but in a more intimate space,” he said. “You still meet people from all around, even though it’s a community college. I met people in the dorm from Jamaica, from Russia, from all kinds of different places.”
His connection with Hinds has continued in the past few years, as he’s giving an assist to the same Honors program he enjoyed as a student.
“I was approached by the college’s Office of Sustainability and the Honors program to help out on community service projects geared toward preserving the environment, mainly donating some boats and time to work with Hinds’ Honors students,” he said. “I said ‘I most certainly would!’
“I saw some of my recent former students at Clinton High in the program. It was a heart-touching moment seeing them there, since it hadn’t been that long since I was in it. A lot of them hadn’t been in a kayak before. Before you knew it, they were paddling around picking up trash like professionals.”