Feature Story from 2001
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- For better or worse, few relationships have gotten as much "bad press" over the years as that of parents-in-law.
"Parents are often a major component in the happiness or unhappiness of a marriage," said Louise Davis, family and child development specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. The challenges may begin before the vows, during the stressful time of planning the wedding.
By Jamie Vickers Phipps
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Safe food handling at the wedding reception can prevent disasterous affects on the guests and honeymooning newlyweds.
When family and friends pitch in to help minimize reception costs, freshness and food safety are important issues.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Patience and understanding are the keys to smoother transitions when blending children from previous marriages into one big, happy family.
"Remarriages are often more complicated than first marriages because of the presence of children on one or both sides of the union," said Louise Davis, family and child development specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
Important steps for a healthy stepfamily include developing a sense of unity, respecting each other and managing time together and apart.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Bridal gowns are major investments, both financially and emotionally, so take extra precautions and perform follow-up care to ensure the dress will last for generations.
Everlyn Johnson, apparel and textile program leader with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said brides can begin to consider the longevity of the gown when the shopping begins or before the gown is made.
By Allison Powe Matthews
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- For brides who want a picture perfect wedding, bridesmaid dresses are an important accent.
Everlyn Johnson, apparel and textile program leader with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said selecting dresses that are satisfactory to both the bride and her maids can be a frustrating task, but starting early can ensure dress success.
"As soon as a bride finds her own wedding gown she should begin searching for the bridesmaids' dresses," Johnson said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Dreams of setting up housekeeping with a new spouse may turn into nightmares if a couple fails to carefully study all the details -- structural and financial -- before committing themselves to a housing agreement.
Careful study of all the details for purchasing or renting a home, including the physical layout of the building, and the legal and financial details, is essential for selecting a first home.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- To let the groom know he is more than a well-dressed escort at his bride's wedding, give him nontraditional wedding gifts that let him share the engagement spotlight.
The bride's schedule in the weeks before the wedding tends to be a hectic rush from one shower to the next -- most of which are for women only. While the groom also will benefit from the generosity of these friends and family, he may enjoy some gifts clearly selected with him in mind.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Honeymoons can be as simple as putting gas in the car and renting a hotel room, but when the trip is more elaborate, travel agents can become a couple's best friend.
Beverly Howell, extension family economics and management specialist at Mississippi State University, said professionals can help choose honeymoons that fit personal tastes and budgets.
"For a wedding trip to be meaningful and enjoyable, it doesn't have to be to an exciting place," Howell said. "There are other options people can use depending on their interests."
MISSISSIPPI STATE Most of Mississippi's weather in 2000 did more harm than good for the state's farmers -- until December.
After four relatively mild winters, entomologists predict significant insect mortality from the cold. The state climatologist reported December temperatures were among the coldest in reported history.
By Crystel Bailey
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Teenagers love to spend money, and now teachers and financial experts are teaching them how to use it wisely as part of a school curriculum.
After the Mississippi Legislature passed a law in 1999 that required money management be taught in high schools, Mississippi State University's Extension Service joined with schools and businesses to bring this new curriculum to the classroom.
By Chantel Lott
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Knowing that corn will grow in Mississippi is one matter, but deciding which kind will grow best on a particular farm puts significant amounts of money on the line and calls for in-depth research.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A group of 105 youngsters in Kossuth have included gardening in their classroom activities and become the first Junior Master Gardener group in the state.
In November, the Kossuth Aggie Junior Gardeners registered as Junior Master Gardeners. The fifth graders' teachers began teaching a gardening curriculum and the classes began working in their outdoor classroom at the school. The group studies environmental and horticultural topics, does hands-on activities, and has the opportunity to take on community leadership projects.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Some adults say youth need encouragement to be their best, but a special group of those Mississippians are preparing to put their money where their mouths are.
More than 2,000 members of 4-H and FFA programs across Mississippi will converge upon Jackson to compete in the Dixie National Junior Round-Up, Feb. 1 through 8. An elite group of winners will receive the top monetary awards following the livestock show at the Sale of Junior Champions on Feb. 8.
By Chantel Lott
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cheese production at Mississippi State University allows researchers to develop improved cheese products and offers students in food sciences hands-on experience while attending college.
Students at MSU studying food science have the opportunity to study the cheese making process and work in a real cheese production plant as part of their curriculum. The plant is operated by the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.
By Allison Matthews
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A farmers' market can draw a crowd with its local, farm-fresh vegetables, and organizers are hoping more producers will be attracted as well.
David Nagel, Extension plant and soil sciences specialist at Mississippi State University, said farmers' markets give everyone an advantage, often one that consumers may have a hard time finding elsewhere.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's horse industry is growing by leaps and bounds, and the state's agricultural college is expanding equine programs to keep pace.
In the last few years, Mississippi State University has directed efforts toward expanding its horse program in areas such as 4-H, therapeutic riding and a collegiate equestrian team. Also, research and academic options for people pursuing careers in horse-related fields have increased. Equine specialists believe MSU's efforts parallel a growing interest statewide in horsemanship.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- If it's not the drought or poor market prices, it's the high cost of energy that is making it hard for Mississippi farmers to turn a profit.
Officials associated with the state's agricultural industry are saying that the high price of energy has created a crisis in agriculture. In Mississippi, the poultry and greenhouse industries appear to be hurting the most, but no ag sector is safe from rising costs that cut into already slim profits.
By Allison Matthews
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's white-tailed deer population has undoubtably increased in recent years, and wildlife specialists are using a new tool to more accurately survey deer numbers.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- By now, consumers are used to high prices at the gas pump, but many are still recovering from the shock of their heating bills that arrived in January.
Natural gas prices have more than doubled in the past year, with much of that increase happening since November. The problem is nationwide and comes at a time when usage is up because of one of the coldest winters in recent history.
By Allison Matthews
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The howls of coyotes in the night may sound eerie to some, chilling to others, but for animal owners, the howls may be a reminder of a problem.
Coyote population has expanded across the United States. Their highly adaptable nature has helped them cope with widely varying habitats. The predator is common in Mississippi, where a few decades ago it was unknown.
"When I was a kid growing up here in Mississippi there were no coyotes," said Dean Stewart, Mississippi State University Extension wildlife associate.