Recognizing his “excellence in agricultural expertise, achievements, integrity, perseverance, contributions to the field of entomology, and dedication to his profession,” the Mississippi Agricultural Consultants Association has named William N. “Bill” Batson to its Hall of Fame.
“This is the highest, most prestigious award any member can obtain,” said Bob Stonestreet, Clarksdale consultant , who announced the award at the group’s annual meeting at Mississippi State University.
Batson, who spent 50 years as an agricultural consultant, retired in 1999, and at that time, Stonestreet said, “was consulting for some of the same clients or their children that he attained at the start of his career.”
A native of Perkinston, Miss., Batson grew up on a dairy farm and after graduating from high school, he joined the U.S. Navy, serving on the battleship USS Arkansas. He spent two years in the Pacific theater, participating in the invasion of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and witnessed the historic raising of the U.S flag on Mt. Suribachi.
After his military service ended, he enrolled at Perkinston Junior College on a football scholarship, playing quarterback and running back. Following graduation, he went to Mississippi State University, earning a degree in entomology, with minors in horticulture and chemistry. He received a fellowship to teach freshman biology while completing his master’s degree.
In 1951, he moved to Greenville where he sold agricultural pesticides and scouted crops for an implement company. Within two years, he started his own crop consulting business.
“During his half-century as an agricultural consultant, Bill worked with a number of research projects involving 13 different pests, discovered and helped eradicate the pink bollworm in the Delta, was an early advocate for tarnished plant bug control, consulted on cotton, rice, wheat, corn, milo, and soybeans,” Stonestreet said.
He was a charter member of the Mississippi Entomological Association.
Following his retirement after, as Batson put it, “50 years of good health, God’s blessings, and good friends,” he moved to Wiggins, Miss., “to be closer to my beginnings.”
He and his wife, Carolyn Chennault Batson, have six children: Lynn, Leila, Lisa, Pepper, Bryan, and Blair, five granddaughters, and two grandsons.
A plaque in his honor will be added to the MACA Hall of Fame at Mississippi State University.