MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Ants may be the least of your picnics concerns if you fail to handle the food safely. Microorganisms can multiply and cause serious health consequences making the outdoor fun fade from memory.
"When handling food at a picnic, it is important to remember three things -- time, temperature and personal hygiene," said Dr. Melissa Mixon, a human nutrition specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Botulism, one of the most deadly forms of food borne illness, is rare, but experts say it can be fatal if not treated properly.
"Botulism is a severe type of food borne illness caused by food containing a deadly toxin," said Dr. Melissa Mixon, a human nutrition specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "This toxin is caused by a microorganism that has the ability to form a spore resistant to heat, chemicals and lack of oxygen."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Preventing cockroaches can be a challenge even in the cleanest homes, but cures are available when these intruders invade.
"Cockroaches have been around for thousands of years indicating they can adapt well to environmental changes," said Dr. James Jarratt, an entomologist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Summer activities may be concluding, but schoolagers still need to include physical activities in their daily routine to avoid being overweight. Healthy diets also benefit learning capabilities.
Research by the Centers for Disease Control indicates a continuing increase in overweight children and adolescents in the United States. Reports estimate 14 percent of the children and 12 percent of the adolescents are overweight. Diet and physical activity are the two primary behavioral factors associated with extra weight.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- When indoor cats destroy furniture and scratch people, owners know that declawing will take care of the problem, but many may wonder whether this medical procedure is too extreme.
"Declawing is not painful for cats, when performed at a young age,"said Dr. Kent Stauffer, a clinical instructor with Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. "It is not traumatic for them and it does not affect their behavior as is often said."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Education and the quality of life for Mississippians is getting a boost through a new partnership between Mississippi State University's Extension Service and the College of Education's service division.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Recent, unseasonal rains are just what the doctor ordered --the plant doctor, that is.
Most of the state received several inches of rain the second week of July, ending drought-like conditions that were taking their toll on nonirrigated crops. Corn was one of the hardest hit by the lack of rain at a critical growth stage, followed by cotton, soybeans and pastures that were suffering.
Dr. David Shaw, Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station weed scientist, said most farmers received more than the proverbial million dollar rain.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The Internet, allows billions of people to entertain and inform themselves, but it also can be a priceless teaching tool for today's students.
"A very important advantage students get from using the Internet is immediate access to information from all over the world," said Dr. Matt Raven, an associate professor with the Mississippi State University's Agricultural Educational and Experimental Statistics Department.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- When a child does not want to go to school, parents should take note because it could signal something more serious than simply not wanting to study.
Dr. Louise Davis, child and family development specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said problems on the first day of school are common for young children, but consistent episodes could mean trouble.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- New interpretations of education laws will result in less separating of children with special needs from their classmates this fall. Advocates believe the success of inclusive education will depend strongly on positive attitudes and a lack of prejudices.
Connie Clay, a project coordinator with the Institute for Disability Studies, is a believer in inclusion in the classroom.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- When classes begin, students realize nothing comes cheap -- books, tuition and housing. Credit cards are often used to pay these inevitable expenses, but many students later learn credit cards may not be the best financial option.
According to a CNN 1996 report published on the Internet, most college students are bombarded with nearly 20 credit cards applications each semester. Since most college students have little or no income, many question why credit-card companies target this high-risk group.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Acne, awkward limbs, body growth, hormonal rushes and moodiness are some recognizable signs puberty brings to children and parental communication could make a difference to ease children's emotional and physical stress.
"Children from ages 9 to 16, embark on an amazing adventure at puberty," said Linda Patterson, health education specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "This is when the brain begins to send signals to a child's reproductive system to develop."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Weather that had most other farmers praying for rain has had a positive effect on Mississippi's shrimp harvest.
"We've had good growing conditions Gulfwide," said Dave Burrage, marine resources specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "Two months of dry weather have resulted in increased salinity and temperatures -- the higher, the better."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Thousands of miles from the Asian financial crises, Mississippi university students are feeling the pinch.
Dr. Bill Herndon, agricultural economist at Mississippi State University, said some foreign currencies have plummeted in the last six months. The countries most affected include Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Korea, Philippines and Singapore.