Daniel Jackson, a Person County native and retired educator, presented Piedmont Community College (PCC) with a $100,000 endowment in support of its BLAST (Breakthrough Learning in Agriculture Science Technology) program during PCC’s Agriculture Summit on April 17.

Jackson made the endowment to honor and celebrate the life of Bessie Heath Daniel for her devotion to agriculture. Daniel was a family friend of Jackson and his parents, Charles and Hester Jackson. She worked with county agents, including Jackson’s father, for more than 23 years and was the first woman to hold the position of Assistant County Agent in North Carolina.

During the Great Depression, Daniel worked tirelessly to save her family farm by selling wood, butter, eggs and milk to pay off their mortgage. At age 70 when she was forced to retire from the county agents office, she began a radio show offering programs that were known to reflect her deep love and interest for people in her community.

“I had a good education in Roxboro and had very good teachers,” Jackson said. “I want all children to feel that way as adults. BLAST is doing its part. I know Miss Bessie would feel the same way.”

BLAST is a hands-on program for elementary school students that introduces them to agriculture by incorporating fun into learning. BLAST started in 2021 serving about 25 students and has since expanded to serve more than 500 students since the program began.

“This endowment will live in perpetuity to help our community’s youth develop their own interest and passion for farming and encourage the next generation to explore careers in agriculture,” Catherine English, PCC Foundation Executive Director said.

Jackson made a $5,000 donation in February 2023 to expand the BLAST program into Person County. At the time, it was only offered in Caswell County. Jackson’s $100,000 donation will be invested, and the original amount will remain intact. The interest earned each year will be used to support and expand the BLAST program in Caswell and Person Counties.

“PCC’s BLAST program will now be forever known as the Bessie Daniel BLAST program,” Dr. Pamela G. Senegal, PCC President said. “We are so grateful for Jackson’s endowment to honor Bessie Daniel and to support the future of agriculture in Person and Caswell Counties.”

For more information on how to support PCC’s programs, visit www.piedmontcc.edu/foundation.

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