MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Horse lovers from around the state can support a new program to benefit people with special needs by donating their time, gentle horses and equipment.
The Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine has developed a therapeutic riding program called WINGS, Winning Independence, Gaining Strength. WINGS is a specialized horse-assisted activity that provides physical, emotional and psychological benefits to individuals with special needs.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Whether hitting the slopes, enjoying the beach or working in the garden, overexposure to ultraviolet rays poses a threat to healthy skin of children and adults.
Linda Patterson, health education specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said that since most skin cancer is caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun, most may be prevented.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Changes in Mississippi's law place more responsibility for health care decisions on the individuals, but make it easier to express future health care wishes when the person cannot.
JACKSON -- Generous buyers rewarded exhibitors of 33 champion market animals with another record-setting sale following the recent Dixie National Junior Livestock Show in February.
Gale Chrestman, 4-H livestock specialist with Mississippi State University' Extension Service, said the 1999 Dixie National Sale of Junior Champions netted $186,701. The previous record was set last year at $185,408.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Knowing what the weather will be like is about the only variable keeping Mississippi State University researchers from being able to predict some cotton and soybean yields.
Dr. Harry Hodges, crop physiology and production specialist with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, said computer programs have been developed to simulate crop growth. The goal is to know how plants will respond to environmental variables.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A milder-than-usual winter may be nice for people, but it can mean trouble for fruit trees by causing them to bloom out of season.
Recent cold weather has not hurt this year's fruit production, even though warm weather has prompted some plants to bud. Generally, buds are not damaged until temperatures dip below 28 degrees for four or more hours.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Family planning efforts can protect today's pets from unwanted litters and health risks and significantly reduce the number of animals put to sleep in the years to come.
Dr. Richard Hopper, Mississippi State University Extension Service veterinarian, said the best way to help control the pet population and protect animals from serious medical problems is through spay or neuter efforts.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many New Year's resolutions have already fallen by the wayside, leaving dieters frustrated by the challenge of permanently losing excess weight.
Fad diets that sound promising may result in a roller coaster weight loss experience or worse yet, damage health.
"Every few years or so, a new diet becomes the rage. Most recently, ëSugar Busters!' has received a lot of attention," said Roxanne Roccaforte, dietetic intern at Mississippi State University. "Dietitians strongly advocate lifestyle changes over fad diets that won't last a lifetime."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A new rice variety soon to be in commercial production is giving indications it may be a strong contender for the state's most popular variety.
Priscilla was released in 1997 by Dr. Dwight Kanter, agronomist with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. The new rice variety started in the early 1980s by an Arkansas researcher as a cross between three existing varieties.
"In early tests, Priscilla was one of the highest yielding semi-dwarfs that we observed," Kanter said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Homeowners needing extra cash who turn to a program that basically lets them sell their house over time should seriously look at their financial plan before choosing this option.
Reverse mortgages are a type of loan where owners borrow against the equity in their home while retaining ownership of the house. The amount that can be borrowed against the home depends on factors such as age and the amount of equity in the house.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Crop insurance is on sale for farmers in Mississippi at nearly a 30 percent discount, but growers have to act quickly to take advantage of this reduction.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced $400 million in disaster relief to subsidize buy-up crop insurance premiums. Buy-up insurance provides the highest levels of coverage at an increased cost to farmers. The relief money reduces coverage cost, but must be bought by Feb. 28. Other emergency financial assistance is available for areas that had multiple year losses or single year disasters.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Forget heart-shaped chocolate and candy this month. Healthy hearts are in the spotlight during National Heart Month in February, especially for women who are twice as likely to die from a heart attack than men.
Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. In 1995, about 45 percent of the deaths in Mississippi were due to cardiovascular disease, which includes heart attacks and strokes, said Dr. Melissa Mixon, human nutrition specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Aflatoxin takes its toll on Mississippi corn production, but two scientists at Mississippi State University have recently released a weapon to fight the fungus.
U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service plant geneticist Paul Williams and plant pathologist Gary L. Windham developed the germplasm Mp715 that was released by the USDA-ARS and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Young people from across the state learned techniques and ethics of managing and hunting waterfowl before returning to experience the satisfaction of a December day's hunt.
Nearly 60 youth and their guardians took part in the Third Annual Youth Waterfowl Hunters' Workshop at Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge on Oct. 31. They returned to the Refuge in December to a green-tree reservoir where the participants had the exclusive opportunity to hunt waterfowl.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Couples celebrate Valentine's Day by expressing love and affection, but people should know how to convey love throughout the year. While it is traditionally for lovers, Valentine's also can be a time to communicate and develop love within the family.
Dr. Louise Davis, Mississippi State University Extension Service child and family development specialist, said children and adults need to be reminded that they are loved all the time and not just on Valentine's Day.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Digital technology is allowing Mississippi plant specialists to lend their expertise without leaving the office, drastically cutting response time to problems.
Dr. Frank Killebrew, plant pathologist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, is using digital cameras and e-mail to distance diagnose plant diseases. He established a pilot program in five counties, and expects to expand this year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Federal relief is on the way to small hog producers who managed to survive the 1998 market catastrophe.
Mark Crenshaw, swine specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the assistance comes too late for many of the state's smaller producers who opted out of the business months ago. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimateed there are 100,000 eligible producers, but Crenshaw said Mississippi may have 50 qualified farms.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- "For richer, for poorer" is usually in the vows, but many couples may not realize the potential hardship financial issues can have on their marriage.
"Finances are a common source of conflict for couples, but as with many other issues, good communication can help reduce the problems on the relationship," said Dr. Louise Davis, child and family development specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.