Feature Story from 1999
By Rebekah Ray
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- They are chemists, architects, engineers -- and invaders.
"I don't know of anything that has been such an unstoppable force in the South like fire ants. Not only are they harmful to humans and animals, they are changing our environment," said Dr. David Pettry, Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station agronomist. Pettry's research has investigated the impact fire ants are having on the environment.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The marked decline in welfare numbers since 1996 is heralded by many as a welfare reform success, but questions remain about why people leave welfare and what happens to them next.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Catfish producers are among the few Mississippi farmers happy with the current market situation.
Jim Steeby, district aquaculture agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service in Stoneville, said temperatures and markets have favored catfish farmers this year.
"This is shaping up to be one of our best years for catfish with the price of feed and the price of fish," Steeby said. "Catfish is definitely the only bright spot on the agriculture scene so far this year."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A viral disease is threatening unvaccinated horses in Mississippi and Louisiana earlier in the summer than normal.
Dr. Fred Lehman, Extension veterinarian with Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, said health officials believe emus from a flock in Lincoln County died recently from Eastern Equine Encephalitis. On June 10, the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory reported the diagnosis of the virus. Wild birds can carry the virus which is spread through mosquitoes to horses.
By Chuck Dunlap
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Dozens of 4-H and FFA students gathered at Mississippi State University's new AgriCenter recently to learn how to be winners in cattle and sheep showing, as well as how to be winners in life.
The state's first Be A Champ camp was held June 18 to 20. The camp was established 15 years ago, but was previously available only in Oklahoma and Louisiana. Ages of the campers range from nine to 18 years.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- When people in the land of plenty are short of food, agencies are in place to meet needs, but keeping those agencies stocked is a community-wide effort.
John Alford, executive director of the Mississippi Food Network in Jackson, said Mississippians needing emergency food assistance increased 18 percent this year from 1998 levels. His food bank distributes food to local charitable organizations which feed the hungry.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Rains across Mississippi the last week of June arrived just in time for many fields, pastures and landscapes desperately needing relief from drought-like conditions.
Dr. Charles Wax, professor and head of geosciences at Mississippi State University, said the state had endured four months with below-average rainfall, but the rains at the end of June helped put Mississippi above average for the month.
"The showers were very scattered, but most places got at least 2 inches," Wax said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The value of parental input in education is indisputable, but some parents are taking their involvement to a new level with the growing trend in home schooling.
Jack Rutland of Brookhaven, president of the Mississippi Home Educators Association, said the number of families participating in home schooling has increased significantly in the last decade. The figures on home-schooled students are contained in each local school district, not at the state level, so the exact number enrolled in Mississippi is unknown.
By Chuck Dunlap
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Children and teenagers have access to many benefits from being online, but they can also be targets of crime, exploitation and pornography from behind the keyboard just as in any other environment.
Kids are trusting, curious and anxious to explore this new world and the relationships the Internet brings to them. Children and teenagers need parental supervision and common sense advice on how to be sure that their experiences in "cyberspace" are happy, healthy and productive ones.
By Molly Kinnan
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Encouraging children to eat a good breakfast could provide them with more than just a nutritious meal but an essential source of energy needed to get through the school day.
Two Mississippi State University Dietetic Interns, Jennifer Eggert and Nancy Bowers, have researched the importance of breakfast for children under the supervision of Dr. Barbara McLaurin, MSU Extension nutritionist specialist.
By Chuck Dunlap
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The bumps, bruises and sore muscles are not the only concerns for Mississippi athletes returning to school this fall. Training for exposure to the August heat is a key issue for coaches and players alike.
Average temperatures in mid-August are around 95 degrees with a heat index of 115 degrees. These numbers are extremely dangerous for anyone with prolonged exposure to it, especially those who are involved in strenuous outside athletic activities such as soccer and football.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Teachers from across the state made bread, soup, ice cream and more one week this summer as they learned techniques they can use to teach their students good nutrition and health.
The Mississippi State University Extension Service held a distance learning workshop at 10 locations statewide June 28 to July 1 to teach the Exploring Nutrition in the Classroom curriculum. Three continuing education unit credits were granted to teachers who participated.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- School violence in recent years make it more important than ever that today's youth learn early to accept differences in their peers and accept themselves for who they are.
Dr. Louise Davis, child and family development specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said flexible children and families are best suited to survive any problems that come along.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Watermelons, blueberries and peaches are finding their way to Mississippi tables despite the weather conditions Mother Nature throws at them.
A mild winter that deprived peaches of their necessary chill hours, a dry spell this summer and recent rains during harvest have not stopped growers from producing decent yields. The market is providing reduced prices for watermelons, average prices for peaches and better-than-average prices for blueberries.
By Molly Kinnan
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The aftermath of a challenging school year can cause some students to lose their educational incentive, but there are a number of steps to prepare them for the upcoming academic experience.
Dr. Louise Davis, child and family development specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said resiliency is one good way to help a student regain and maintain a steady focus at school.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many of the same critical issues that apply to prescription medicine for people also apply for their pets.
Dr. Dinah Jordan, chief of pharmacy services at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, said prescriptions are only for the individual named on the label, for the purpose it was prescribed and often for a specific length of time.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A new trend in massage is making fans among an age group that can't talk about the subject, but is weighing in with their support in other ways.
Infant massage or touch therapy is the gentle stroking, touching and massaging of a baby. Healthy babies seem to enjoy the massage, while premature babies or those with health problems often have marked improvement after the treatment.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Dinah Jordan received more than a doctor of pharmacy degree from a distance learning program that provided unique insights into problem-based learning issues.
Jordan, chief of pharmacy services at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, recently completed the new non-traditional doctor of pharmacy program for licensed practitioners. The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy in Jackson conducted the majority of the classes through an Internet chatroom and used problem-based learning techniques.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's cotton appears to be headed for an above average crop in 1999 as insect pressures are low and the weather is favorable for cotton production.
Dr. Will McCarty, cotton specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the overall crop looked very good by mid-July.
"At this point, the crop has good moisture, vegetative growth, fruit set and light insect pressure," McCarty said. "With still months before harvest when anything can happen, the potential of this year's cotton is definitely above average."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Rising costs of designer clothes, popularity of gangs and the growing incidence of youth violence have made school uniforms an attractive option to many parents and school districts.
Once reserved for private schools, uniforms have become more common among the student population at large. Several Mississippi school districts already have established school uniform codes or will require uniforms this fall.