Feature Story from 1997
By Allison Powe
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The cold weather of the winter months can cause anxiety about the costs of keeping warm, but simple efforts to maintain a home can cut down on heating expenses.
Dr. Frances Graham, extension housing specialist at Mississippi State University, said up to 33 percent of heat in homes is lost through uninsulated ceilings.
"Proper insulation is a key factor for minimizing heating bills during the winter. Insulation is important in the attic, next to the interior ceiling in the room, and in walls and floors," Graham said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- While many students complain that their instructors give them problems, at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, carefully designed problems are the basis of the curriculum.
A unique style of learning goes beyond typical classroom instruction and teaches students to become independent learners with problem-solving skills. The first two years of the four-year veterinary curriculum at MSU are founded on problem-based learning, or PBL.
By Allison Powe
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Wildlife, especially young animals, may be cute, but capturing and trying to tame Mississippi wildlife is against the law and against nature.
In October 1988, Public Notice 2887 made keeping any wild game or furbearing animal illegal, said Randall Miller, chief of law enforcement at the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
The consequences of breaking a law may prevent some people from becoming attached to a wild animal; however, the law can be hard for officials to enforce.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- "Green industry" certainly describes Mississippi's horticultural businesses. Not only is it an industry of plants, but it's environmentally-friendly and making lots of money.
Dr. David Tatum, Mississippi State University's extension horticulturist, described the green industry as an agricultural industry consisting of nursery production, landscaping, arborists and retail.
By Allison Powe
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Weddings symbolize family fellowship and love, but the preparation period before a ceremony is often characterized by numerous family arguments as well.
Dr. Louise Davis, extension child and family development specialist at Mississippi State University, said planning a wedding can strain emotions of the couple, their parents and extended families.
"A wedding involves so many different people in two different families, and everyone is likely to have their own preconceived ideas about how things should be," Davis said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Sweaty palms and cold feet sometimes indicate a reassuring hug is needed, but for other couples, it means it's time to kiss the fiance' goodbye.
Dr. Louise Davis, Mississippi State University extension child and family development specialist, said few couples survive the entire wedding process without at least one member getting a case of the nerves. While not unusual, couples must determine if this is simply jitters or a hint that something is wrong.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Prospective grooms no longer have to climb ladders to their sweethearts' windows late at night and race with them across state lines to elope.
Instead, these nontraditional weddings often are announced and held with the full blessing of everyone involved. Many times they are planned far in advance with arrangements made as carefully as in a typical wedding.
Eloping has gained popularity in American culture as a hassle- free, less-expensive way to tie the knot. Many couples --and their families -- are seeing elopement as an attractive alternative.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Marrying "back home" is not possible for many engaged couples, while others look at their options and leave town for the wedding.
In 1996, 65,000 couples married away from home, according to Modern Bride magazine findings. Some chose to marry in exotic locations, while others married in the town they were currently living, but not their hometown.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many newlyweds find themselves gaining weight after the wedding when efforts to please their new spouse overrule their better judgment at the table.
"Trying to please each other, either by cooking a lot or by eating all that is set before them, often results in weight gain," said Dr. Melissa Mixon, extension human nutrition specialist at Mississippi State University. "It is important that couples be aware that can happen."
CLEVELAND -- What is scientifically true about pesticide health risks and what is commonly believed are often at odds, a national expert on toxin exposure said recently.
Dr. Ronald E. Gots, managing principal of the International Center of Toxicology and Medicine in Rockville, Md., has been involved in toxic exposure cases since 1975. He spoke on this topic at the 1997 Delta Production Conference and Ag Expo.
"Pesticides stir passions, and often passion and reality differ," Gots said. "Pesticides can be dangerous, but they also can be used safely."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The fight against a costly virus affecting the state's billion dollar poultry industry recently got a boost when researchers improved the testing procedure.
Dr. Chinling Wang, a researcher with Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, has found a way to shorten the time needed to run the RT-PCR (reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction) test. This test accurately and now quickly detects and identifies infectious bronchitis virus in poultry.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Soybean growers with Internet access have a valuable resource to help them as they choose what varieties to plant in their fields.
Dr. Alan Blaine, Mississippi State University extension agronomist, said 1997 soybean variety trial information is now posted on the Internet. Information is available on yield, maturity dates, disease reactions, lodging scores and long-term yield averages.
Results of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station soybean variety trials for 1994-1996 are available at http://www.ext.msstate.edu/soyvar.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Healthy diets need not fall by the wayside simply because Americans are eating out more today than ever before.
Dr. Melissa Mixon, Mississippi State University extension nutritionist, said it is possible to eat right while dining out.
"It is not difficult to eat well while at a restaurant," Mixon said. "It just requires the will power to make the healthy selections on the menu.
"Moderation is the key. Every food can fit into a healthy diet, just maybe not as often or in as great a quantity."
By Allison Powe
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Get-rich-quick fantasies can be appealing, but use common sense when an opportunity comes along that sounds too good to be true.
Becoming a distributer for a multilevel marketing company may appear to be a good way to make extra income. But before investing, make sure you know the difference between a legitimate opportunity and a pyramid scheme.
By Allison Powe
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Springtime means flowers will bloom, butterflies will appear and, of course, new clothes will be worn.
During this time of the year, everyone wants a fresh start, and an easy way to do this is with new spring clothing. Stephanie Wayne, extension textile and apparel clothing assistant at Mississippi State University, said this season's styles will reflect nature's own bright spring colors.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi poultry producers in the past two decades have transformed an industry into the state's top agricultural enterprise, with annual poultry and egg sales in excess of $1 billion.
Researchers at Mississippi State University support the growth of the industry and continue to aid producers in finding new ways to manage the health and productivity of their flocks.
By Allison Powe
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Most Americans have heard the staggering statistics about heart disease, but when it comes to changing unhealthy habits, many people have trouble.
In 1995, about 45 percent of the deaths in Mississippi were due to cardiovascular diseases, which include heart attacks and strokes, said Dr. Melissa Mixon, extension human nutrition specialist at Mississippi State University.
But Mississippians are not doomed to heart disease. Risks can be significantly decreased by leading heart healthy lifestyles.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- While some scientific breakthroughs never seem to touch everyday lives, genetic engineering affects many Mississippians on a daily basis.
Two Mississippi State University extension agronomists said bioengineered crops are riding a wave of popularity. In five years, nearly all the corn planted in Mississippi will have bioengineered traits. Because of limited seed supplies, about 5 to 10 percent of the state's soybeans are genetically modified now, but that number is growing quickly.
By Allison Powe
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Parents often find battles over bedtimes as difficult as those at the dinner table. But those fights are worth the effort as the health benefits of "beauty" sleep may be as beneficial as that proverbial apple a day.
Parents with school age children may find it hard to get the kids to bed at a decent hour without hearing cries of protest or rebellious fits of rage. Linda Patterson, extension health education specialist at Mississippi State University, said a period of transition is one key to forming good sleeping habits.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cattle and pregnant horses could suffer serious health problems this spring from a grass intended for cool-season nourishment.
Dr. Michael Brashier, an assistant professor at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, encouraged veterinarians to be on the lookout for fescue toxicity. Brashier addressed the concern during the recent meeting of the Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association.
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