Feature Story from 2000
JACKSON -- Young people in 4-H and FFA recently concluded their 1999-2000 season with the No. 1 youth livestock sale east of the Mississippi River.
The Dixie National Sale of Junior Champions has paid more than $2 million to young livestock exhibitors over the 31 years since the sale was organized. This year, buyers paid $165,828 for 34 market hogs, lambs and steers. In addition to the sale of animals, the Dixie National Sales Committee was able to sponsor scholarships worth $1,000 each for 19 high school seniors to attend Mississippi colleges.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Victims of child abuse may not show physical evidence of their experiences, but other signs often are visible when positive parenting skills are lacking.
"Providing children with a warm, loving environment is one of the best ways to avoid certain inappropriate behaviors," said Dr. Louise Davis, child and family development specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "While children need structure and boundaries, overreacting to their misbehavior or being overcritical can result in low self esteem, insecurity and other problems."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A team of nine Mississippi State University students is taking a research experiment to weightlessness as part of a NASA outreach program.
NASA's Reduced Gravity Project is making it possible for the animal and dairy science team to test the action of a firefly enzyme in a weightless environment. The team and their advisor will be in Houston at NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center March 6 to 18 for preparation and two flights.
By Laura Martin
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's vast amounts of wood waste and poultry manure are serious disposal problems in a state where these two industries generate the most agricultural income.
In 1999, Mississippi's poultry industry reached a record $1.55 billion in estimated farm gate value. Each year it produces an estimated 600,000 tons of litter.
MISSISSIPPI STATE - In a time when everything appears to be changing, community colleges in the South have undergone a transformation to become key players in economic development.
By Bonnie Coblentz
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Marketing at a profit in farming is especially difficult when markets are down, but Mississippi farmers have some assistance in this tricky field through the efforts of the Marketing Club Network.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The Internet offers millions of educational opportunities, but parents need to monitor its use to protect young minds from inappropriate sites and from people who would victimize children.
Dr. Louise Davis, child and family development specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said a relatively new opportunity for child abuse is entering households in the form of the Internet. Davis encouraged parents and children to enjoy all the learning and entertainment benefits of the Internet, but remember the risk of any unsupervised activity.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- High school students at two Mississippi schools play the role of third grade teachers for a while as they participate in a pilot youth leadership program.
Junior and senior high students from South Panola and Saltillo high schools are taking part in the first year of the School Youth Leadership Program. This effort puts them in the classroom with third graders for one period two or three times a week where they assist teachers and mentor students.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Online auctions are one of the more popular Internet uses, but they do present a risk to those who take part.
In an online auction with major, reputable services, potential sellers complete the process necessary to register as a user and then post items for sale. Each sale has a description of the product, often with a photo, a closing date and usually a minimum required bid. Potential buyers also must register with the site and then can bid on the item. The highest bid wins.
By Rebekah Ray
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Soybeans have been called a miniature miracle because of their versatility.
Soybeans and soy derivatives are being used in a variety of places - coffee creamers, salad and cooking oils, diesel fuels, pesticides, paints, pharmaceuticals, linoleum backings, vinyl plastics, shampoos, chocolate and candy coatings, mayonnaise, cosmetics and bakery products. There are also soy foods like miso, soymilk, soy sauce, tofu and tempeh.
This is great news for Mississippi's soybean producers.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi hardwoods are a valuable commodity from the seedling stage through harvest, so efforts to improve survival rates for this challenging crop are paramount for timber landowners.
Mississippi State University forestry researchers are working to protect landowners' investments by finding solutions to several aspects of hardwood regeneration.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The Internet is revolutionizing commerce in much the same way mail-order catalogs did a century ago, as last year 17 million shoppers spent more than $20 billion online.
Jan Lukens, personal finance specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, urged consumers to not overlook security in their quest for greater convenience and better prices.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Spring gardeners getting ready to put in their vegetable crop must include plenty of water in those plans.
Dr. David Nagel, vegetable specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the state has a rain deficit of 5 to 6 inches. Soil that is growing vegetables loses about 1 inch a week, compared to 7/10 inch a week on fallow ground.
"We normally have a wet January and February and start this time of year with the soil holding as much water as it can," Nagel said. "This year, the whole state has been dry."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Farmers with a sense of adventure have made their decisions, paid the price and now are preparing for the first plunge on the agricultural roller-coaster ride of 2000.
Poor market prices and drought challenges in recent growing seasons are making farmers think more than twice as they make planting decisions.
"This is not going to be a good year to make a lot of changes in a farming plan. Growers need to rely on the basics," said Alan Blaine, soybean specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
By Rebekah Ray
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Horticulture, the green industry, is one of the fastest growing areas of agriculture and includes fresh-cut flowers and foliage, potted flowering and foliage plants, bedding plants, perennials, annuals and bulbs, shrubs, trees, cut Christmas trees, seeds and other propagative materials.
HOUSTON -- Mississippi State University students learned the difficulties of conducting research in a zero gravity environment after a mid-March flight on NASA's reduced gravity aircraft.
The nine animal and dairy science students and their advisor devised an experiment to determine how a particular enzyme reacts in micro gravity. They worked with the firefly enzyme luciferase and compared its reaction in zero gravity to its reaction in Earth gravity. They used a luminometer to record the flash of light that signaled each reaction.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi farmers have looked to the sky, the markets and their pocketbooks to make planting decisions for a year that already promises to be a challenge.
Winter rains brought little relief from last year's late season drought, so farmers had a rare opportunity to begin planting corn earlier than normal this spring. Mississippi farmers planted about 55 percent of their corn with 40 percent emerging by the end of March, compared to the five-year average of 21 percent planted and 4 percent emerged.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- If you thought it was hard paying to fill up your car, try buying diesel for a farm tractor to plant crops that may not sell for enough to cover total production costs.
Tom Jones, agricultural economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said farm fuel prices are running at least 55 percent higher than they did last year. While market prices have improved since last fall enough to soften the blow, crop prices remain below adequate levels.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Shoppers hoping to find something different in the new millennium may be disappointed to find women's fashions reminiscent of the 1970s, but they will be relieved to find more feminine influences returning.
"The fashions for this spring and summer can best be described as retro 1970s," said Everlyn Johnson, apparel and textile project leader with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "Many of the looks made famous by the `Charlie's Angels' television show will be returning."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Sociologists see a disappearing middle in many areas of American life, and agriculture is no exception.
Joe Molnar, professor of rural sociology at Auburn University, said large farms are getting larger and more small farms are springing up while mid-size farms are declining. His findings were released in "Agriculture in transition: Food and fiber livelihoods in an industrialized context," a publication of the Southern Rural Development Center at Mississippi State University.