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May 7, 2021

A black and white skunk.

A skunk knows how to make its presence known. With their furry black and white coats and pungent odor, they’re hard to miss! Mississippi is home to two species of skunks: the spotted skunk and the striped skunk. The striped skunk is the most commonly found skunk in the state and are easily identified by, you guessed it, a white stripe on their back. 


A coiled copperhead snake looks at the camera.

Learn How to Identify Snakes

April 24, 2018

If you like to enjoy the great outdoors during spring and summer, you are not alone.

Whether you’re out hiking, fishing, camping, kayaking, horseback riding, or working in your backyard, you’ll likely come across many types of wildlife, including snakes. Just the thought of a snake can cause many people to shudder with fear. But learning about the kinds of snakes you may encounter in your area and how they behave can help you avoid a dangerous encounter.

Most people refer to snakes as poisonous and nonpoisonous, but the actual scientific terms are venomous and nonvenomous...

On the left is a close-up photo of a worker bee specimen, on the right is a close-up photo of a Southern yellow jacket specimen.

Honey Bee or Yellow Jacket?

April 19, 2018

A yellow-gold insect buzzes around your head and your first instinct is to swat. Or run. Or swat while running.

The fear of being stung can send me into fight or flight mode in seconds . . . and I’m a beekeeper. True story. No one likes being stung! (Photo by Mississippi Entomological Museum/Joe Macgown)

MSU Extension Agent Natasha Haynes, an African American woman with chin-length straight black hair stands behind a kitchen table displaying a crock of kitchen utensils, a red pot, and assorted home-canned and fresh fruits and vegetables.

A New Digital Twist on The Food Factor

April 17, 2018

We’ve been working on a Top Secret Project for several months! Whether you are already a fan of our TV show, The Food Factor, or you are just hearing about it for the first time, we are excited to announce all new, fresh digital content will launch in May. More tips, recipes, and the how-to content you’ve been asking for! (Photo by Kevin Hudson)

Can Fragrant Plants Help Repel Insects?

April 13, 2018

Growing herbs in containers on your porch or doorstep gives you a lot of bang for your buck.

Most herbs grow without fuss, look lovely, smell wonderful, and add fabulous flavors to your home-cooked meals. More flavor means you can cut back on salt and fat! (Photo by Canstock Photo)

An orange sunset on Biloxi beach with the Gulf of Mexico in the background.

Help Keep Our Coast Clean and Healthy

April 10, 2018

When I think of the beach, I picture soft, white sand and pristine, blue water. But our beaches and oceans have a dirty little secret: trash.
 
That’s right, several tons of trash end up in our waterways and on our beaches every year in Mississippi. In 2017 alone, volunteers with the Mississippi Coastal Cleanup collected 13 tons of trash from 40 sites along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. This trash isn’t just unsightly. It threatens the Gulf Coast’s ecosystem.
 

An air plant terrarium is a hollow, vented glass container with decorative sand and pebbles, twigs or driftwood, moss, and a dusty green tillandsia plant, also called an air plant.

How to Make an Air Plant Terrarium

April 6, 2018

Air plants are popular, easy-to-care-for decorations. They are ideally suited for dorm rooms, apartments, and offices where watering plants may be more challenging, but are a lovely addition to any space. They also make great gifts, because you can buy materials in bulk. (Photo by Kevin Hudson)

Four separate cucurbit crops grown in a field.

Citizen Scientists Wanted: Cucurbit Downy Mildew

April 3, 2018

MSU scientists are on the lookout for a cucurbit crop bandit. And they need your help!

Cucurbit downy mildew is a sneaky thief with the ability to quickly and significantly reduce yields or wipe out entire crops of susceptible cucurbits, including cucumbers, melons, pumpkins and squash. (File photo by Rebecca A. Melanson)

An illustration depicts a large yellow chick with a graph showing the number of Salmonella outbreaks since 2000 and includes text instructions to wash hands after handling backyard poultry.

Safety Tips for Handling Poultry

March 30, 2018

Baby chickens are so cute and cuddly that few people can resist holding them. Unfortunately, as public interest in raising backyard birds has grown so has the number of Salmonella outbreaks in the U.S. (Photo by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

More than 20 newly hatched chickens covered in yellow down bask under warming lamps in a large black tub.

Go Green: How to Get Started with Backyard Chickens

March 27, 2018

Some people can’t resist the latest spring fashions. Others plant flowers in profusion.
Then there are those, like me, who are highly susceptible to the cheerful chirping of newly hatched chicks. (Photo by Kat Lawrence)

Browned ground beef, chopped onions, celery, and garlic in a non-stick skillet ready to spoon into individual freezer bags.

Go Green: Save Money with Magic Meat Mixes

March 23, 2018

I love to cook, but I’m always interested in learning about shortcuts.
That’s why I was really excited to watch this episode of “The Food Factor” – because MSU Extension Agent Natasha Haynes talks about saving time and money! (Photo by Brian Utley and Jonathan Parrish)

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About Extension for Real Life

Extension for Real Life is a product of the MSU Extension Service’s Office of Agricultural Communications.

That’s a long way of saying we are professional communicators who get to talk about food, families, 4-H, flowers, and farming for a living.

Blog content is created by a core team of communicators, including Susan Collins-Smith, Ellen Graves, Natasha Haynes, Keri Lewis, Michaela Parker, and Jonathan Parrish. But we get by with a lot of help from our friends in Ag Comm and Extension!

You can reach us at 662-325-2262 or extreallife@msstate.edu