Feature Story from 2005
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Most households with children have a new pile of toys from the holidays, but specialists warn that not all toys are good for kids.
Louise Davis, child and family development specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said ideally, toys entertain and promote creative, non-violent play in youth. The commercialization of play has moved the toy industry from putting children first to promoting items because of their ability to generate revenues.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A new antibiotic has the potential to treat one of the most costly diseases in Mississippi's $287 million catfish industry.
Pat Gaunt, a veterinary toxicologist with Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, began studying the use of florfenicol to treat enteric septicemia, or ESC, in U.S. catfish more than five years ago. That process is nearing an end as the Food and Drug Administration considers final approval of the drug.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- 4-H'ers trying to gain educational extracurricular experience while in high school have the opportunity in March to work in Mississippi government.
The Mississippi State University Extension Service 4-H program and the Center for Governmental Training and Technology are recruiting four youth to serve as legislative pages March 14-18. The youth will serve either in the state Senate or House of Representatives, or in the governor, lieutenant governor or other executive branch offices.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Once sold to promote the use of tractors, farm toys are popular collectibles for young and old alike. An upcoming farm toy show in Starkville will attract people with recent experience and others with fond memories of treasured possessions from long ago.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Family time or adult occasion? Opinions differ on the subject of children at weddings, but experts agree including them lends an element of uncertainty, for better or worse.
Louise Davis, child and family development specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said couples should consider their expectations of the wedding day when deciding whether or not to invite children.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- "To love and cherish in sickness and in health" may be the promise, but no one wants a single day of sickness, especially on their wedding day or honeymoon.
Some illnesses are beyond human control, but several healthy practices can reduce the number of days lost to sickness and lengthen years with loved ones.
Peggy Walker, a Mississippi State University Extension Service nutrition and food safety area agent based in Panola County, said stress in the weeks before a wedding can take a toll on a person's health.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Shopping for a wedding dress is a much bigger ordeal than heading out with a budget in mind and an idea of favorite styles, said one Mississippi State University fashion expert.
Phyllis Miller, an associate professor of apparel, textiles and merchandising in MSU's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, explained why brides-to-be should allow a year to find the right dress.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A trip to the dressing room with an armload of the same size clothes proves that size is not the most important factor when choosing an outfit.
The style and cut of any item of clothing determines how well it looks on a person. Wedding dresses are no exception, and it takes a careful shopper to choose the most flattering style for this highly photographed day.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- When it comes to honeymoons, a couple's interests and personalities should determine location, preparation and any other details.
Patsilu Reeves, a family life education specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said when couples relax and focus on having fun together, they can develop a stronger emotional bond.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Couples appreciate every thoughtful gift, but some items still end up unused and in storage for years.
Friends can improve a present's chances of immediate use by consulting registries, shower hostesses and others who know the couple well.
Bobbie Shaffett, associate professor of family resource management with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said gift registries help givers select gifts couples need or want. Registries also can let friends know what others have already purchased and help avoid some duplication.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- When Regan's owners brought her in, attending veterinarians knew they had to work quickly to save the 4-month-old golden retriever puppy's life.
"The puppy was playing outside at her home and suddenly began having severe difficulty breathing. The referring veterinarian sent her here, and when we took X-rays, we saw something round in her windpipe," said Dr. Andrew Mackin, service chief of the Small Animal Internal Medicine Service at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The volunteer army behind 4-H is largely responsible for the success of the organization, so once a year, this group gets together to recharge and re-equip.
4-H volunteer adult leaders from across the state are gathering Feb. 25-27 at the Bost Extension Center at Mississippi State University.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's 15th annual Greenhouse Tomato Short Course will be two days longer this year to accommodate the extensive educational needs of producers in the state, across the country and in other nations.
The intensive, one-of-a-kind short course in Jackson March 1-4 is exclusively dedicated to helping producers of greenhouse tomatoes. Mississippi is home to 130 growers who combine to produce a $6.5 million greenhouse tomato crop annually. In 2004, the short course attracted more than 120 participants from 20 states and four countries.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Animals typically can care for themselves, but pets need owners' help to prevent illness or even death when temperatures drop.
Possibly the biggest threat to pets during the winter is antifreeze, said Dr. Mark Russak, a veterinarian in the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine's Primary Care Clinic. This sweet-smelling and sweet-tasting liquid is deadly to dogs and cats.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Trees do more for an area than add beauty, and communities across Mississippi have begun to recognize and protect the value of these leafy giants.
The 2005 Urban Forestry and Arboriculture Conference Feb. 14-16 in Natchez will give community leaders a better understanding of the benefits trees provide to a community. The Mississippi State University Extension Service is one of the sponsors for the conference.
By Bonnie Coblentz
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A winter disaster preparedness kit can prevent a bad ice storm or snowstorm from turning into a crisis situation.
Much of Mississippi is susceptible to harsh winter storms, and when the electricity is out, roads are iced over and temperatures fall to the teens or single digits, the unprepared can be in trouble. Herb Willcutt, safety specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said ready access to some basic essentials can mean the difference between life and death.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Greater access to educational and resource materials is coming to Northeast Mississippi child-care workers, teachers and parents.
Mississippi State University's Extension Service and Early Childhood Institute are receiving funds from the Appalachian Regional Commission to establish a Northeast Mississippi Childcare Resource and Referral system.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's military families are finding a non-military organization in every county that is ready, willing and able to mobilize an army of volunteers to provide support for their children.
The Mississippi State University Extension Service 4-H program has received $30,000 for 2005 to expand youth development efforts among military families. The grant complements existing work taking place through a 10-year-old partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Army, as well as similar efforts in recent years with the Air Force.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Alternative heat sources used during extended power outages in the winter months can have deadly consequences without proper planning and supervision.
Herb Willcutt, a safety specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said kerosene heaters and other alternative heat sources are designed for use in well ventilated places, such as outdoor work areas. Houses with tight seals, caulking and vapor barriers are not good locations for extended use.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Proper irrigation is a science, but implementing it on a farm is less precise.
Moisture for a crop serves two purposes; it cools the plant and transports nutrients needed for development. When nature doesn't provide the water through rain, technology can by irrigation. Jim Thomas, agricultural engineer with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said there are no fixed initiation or termination dates for irrigation in the state.