May 16, 2024

Hinds CC Biology Students Preparing for Research at Yellowstone

“This experience is important to me, especially the travel experience. I think we need more projects like this because it’s a great opportunity for students like me, who otherwise would…
BY: Rhonda Dunaway

Raymond—A group of 12 biology students from Hinds Community College are preparing for a June trip to Yellowstone National Park in Montana where they will be testing theories and collecting evidence based on their own research.

The group met each Friday during the spring semester in the biology labs of the Raymond Campus with lead faculty sponsors Raymond Campus Biology Instructor Chrisanna Saums and Rankin Campus Physics and Geology Instructor Corwin Atwood-Stone.

The course is an offering of the Honors Institute. Saums said she started working on the details of the course during COVID.

Biology students from Hinds Community College who will travel to Yellowstone National Park, Gardiner, Mont., in June are, front from left, Jakira Hunt of Raymond, Davis Moody of Madison, Dallas Crosby of Clinton, Dawson Pitts of Clinton, Brandon Copeland of Richland and Dakota Basye of Brandon; second row, A’Bryionah Waters of Ebenezer, Ramsey Sullender of Clinton, Jacob Sullender of Clinton and Andrew Kilpatrick of Bolton. (Hinds Community College/Brad Smith)

“Each summer, I travel with my family out west to hike and visit our national parks and Yellowstone was always a biological favorite of ours. For the course, we wanted our Hinds students to experience unique ecosystems. We also wanted to offer a domestic travel option for our students, and Yellowstone checked all the boxes,” Saums said.

“Content will vary, but classes are to explore certain biology-related topics in depth. It includes a detailed study of Yellowstone National Park and the field experience with a park biologist,” she said.

Once the students arrive at Yellowstone, they will work closely with a Wildlife Biologist and Guide.

The students are not only taking a deep dive into biology, they must also complete two community service projects. Saums said even though travel programs like this are through the Honors Institute, students do not have to qualify for the Honors Institute to take the class.

Students have to have a 3.0 GPA, however, be a full-time student, write a 300-word essay about why they want go, have two recommendation letters and answer three questions focusing on why the student should be selected to take part in the course. The Yellowstone course offers six hours of college credit.

The group has already completed the community service requirements. The first community service project was under the guidance of Raymond Campus Biology Instructor Rebecca Harris, who had the students label trees on the Raymond Campus with plaques that identify them with their common name, the scientific name (genus), and the family name.

The second service project was cleaning the Raymond Visitor’s Center on Raymond’s downtown square.

“The class is super-fun. I loved doing the service projects. There’s no pressure, and I like how we are all learning from each other, too,” said Davis Moody, 19, of Madison. “Every community college should have programs like this. We need that life experience, to get out of Mississippi and experience something different.”

A’Bryionah Waters, 19, of Ebeneezer, is a biology student who said the Yellowstone visit be a great life experience for her.

“This experience is important to me, especially the travel experience. I think we need more projects like this because it’s a great opportunity for students like me, who otherwise would not have been able to go on a trip like this,” she said.

About Hinds Community College

Hinds offers affordable, comprehensive educational opportunities across six campus locations and has nearly 500 academic classes guaranteed to transfer to a university, over 65 career and technical program options and an extensive array of online courses. Applications for general admissions are currently being accepted. Prospective students are encouraged to apply and explore enrollment steps at

Our Mission: Hinds Community College is committed to moving people and communities forward by helping develop their purpose, passion and profession. 

Our Vision: Hinds Community College will be a catalyst to create a competitive economy and a compelling culture for Mississippi. 

Our Values: Hinds Community College aspires to the following IDEALSIntegrity, Diversity, Excellence, Accountability, Leadership, Stewardship.

To learn more, visit or call 1.800.HindsCC.