Feature Story from 1998
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi State University is heading a new statewide economic development effort to be kicked off at an April conference in Jackson.
The Agricultural Economic Summit on April 21 and 22 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Jackson will focus on growing the Mississippi economy through agriculture, forestry and community development. The summit will feature several industry leaders addressing issues important to the state. Follow-up meetings around the state will identify goals and areas for improvement during the five-year endeavor.
By Kelli McPhail
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Head lice have a reputation for spreading at school, but parents should not dismiss the problem during summer months.
Head lice are tiny insects that lay eggs, or nits, that stick to hair very close to the scalp. The nits are grayish white and oval-shaped.
Linda Patterson, health education associate specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said lice are easily transferred, and early detection should improve control efforts.
By Linda Breazeale
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi cotton growers are keenly aware of insect control every year because it is one of their most costly issues, but after this year's mild winter, they are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.
The Mid-South region has the highest costs to produce cotton. To be competitive with state's that have eradicated boll weevils, Mississippi needs 3 to 5 cents per pound more at the market. The 1997-98 winter was one of Mississippi's mildest winters in 20 years, which is a major concern for 1998 boll weevil control.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Spring temperature have been great for planting gardens, but rains have kept gardeners out of their plots until recently.
Dr. David Nagel, horticulturist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said favorable weather in the growing season should allow the gardens to recover from lost time and still yield good harvests.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's rabies-free days are numbered.
Mississippi is the only state in the continental United States without a confirmed case of land-animal rabies in recent years. Unfortunately, the threat is not 100 miles away from Mississippi's border, it's probably less than 10.
Bruce Brackin, epidemiologist with the state Board of Health in Jackson, said although it has been more than 30 years since Mississippi had a confirmed case of land-animal rabies, verified cases are so close that rabies is most likely within the state's boarders already.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Rabies is not only a deadly concern for dogs and cats, it can have serious consequences when an animal suspected of having rabies bites a person.
In 1995, Robert Allen of Ocean Springs was bit by raccoon thought to have the rabies virus. The bite, actually just a scratch by the animal's teeth, sent him to the emergency room for a series of five vaccinations to save his life. His ordeal ended with him being free of the potentially deadly virus.
By Kelli McPhail
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The death of a pet can be like the loss of a member of the family, but a new memorial program is helping pet owners cope with their loss.
Companion Animals Require Excellence, a program started by Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, allows people, primarily veterinarians, to honor deceased animals through memorials.
By Amy Woolfolk
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Having pets spayed or neutered not only helps control the pet population, but it also helps protect the animals from serious medical problems.
Dr. Cory Langston, associate professor of veterinary medicine at Mississippi State University, said spaying females before their first heat cycle eliminates the threat of uterine and ovarian infection or cancer. These are common in unaltered females.
Risk of tumors in the mammary gland, the milk producing gland, also can be reduced tremendously by spaying.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Most horses no longer help plow fields or herd livestock, but they can still teach children, even urban dwellers, responsibility.
Horse ownership is no longer limited to people who live on farms. In fact, equine industry watchers are noting a trend toward owners boarding horses with other people.
By Kelli McPhail
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Pets may require more attention during hot weather, but a little extra care reduces the risk to a pet's safety and well-being.
When temperatures rise and pet owners go out of town, everyday care for animals may not be enough. Heat stress can cause serious side effects and is one problem pet owners need to be aware of.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The look required for some breeds of dogs means puppies have to have cosmetic surgery, an issue that has sparked international debate.
Dr. Paul McCarthy, head of surgery at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, said docking tails and cropping ears has no medical value for the animals.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Recent rains have slowed field work for Northeast Mississippi corn growers, but the state remains on schedule for more corn acres in 1998.
Dr. Erick Larson, corn specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said he expects the state to plant near the 1996 level of 630,000 acres, compared to 490,000 planted last year when growers harvested a record yield of 107 bushels per acre.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Some Mississippi farmers are banking on early soybean varieties to produce the yields of recent years because the markets are not going to be much help.
Dr. Tom Jones, agricultural economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said there is more potential for soybean prices to go down than there is for them to increase.
"U.S. soybean acreage is up slightly, South American crops are strong and the forecast is for good growing conditions this year," Jones said. "There is just no reason for prices to come up anytime soon."
GREENWOOD -- More than 100 Leflore County homes are safer places after families safely disposed of household hazardous wastes, but experts say hazardous waste remains in houses around the state.
Leflore County held a household hazardous waste roundup the last weekend in April. Lacey Henderson, Leflore County home economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said 125 families brought waste products from the house that, if not properly disposed of, are dangerous to the environment.
By Amy Woolfolk
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Parents and youth who think school is the only place to learn need to think again. The Mississippi 4-H program offers a wide variety of learning experiences this summer.
"Our summer calendar is full of fun camps, conferences and workshops on many topics," said Sandy Slocum, extension 4-H associate. "With these programs we want to educate kids about specific subjects, and also teach them valuable life skills. These events are enjoyable, and youth look forward to coming to them year after year."
By Kelli McPhail
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Gardeners may want to consider the organic gardening trend this year when deciding how to care for gardens and the environment at the same time.
Organic gardening means growing and marketing healthy foods that have not been treated with synthetic chemicals, only natural fertilizers and pest control measures.
Dr. David Nagel, a horticulturalist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said many people choose to garden organically because they want to be environmentally friendly. Others have different reasons.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Low log inventories around the state last winter kept timber prices high, and landowners continue to respond by bringing more to market.
Dr. Bob Daniels, forestry specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said wet weather was a key factor in log inventories this winter.
"Rainy weather kept logging and transportation operations difficult from late October through February, especially in Central and South Mississippi," Daniels said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Weather discussions are not new to farmers, but a recently developed Internet site can take those talks to the next level.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many people have no trouble selling used cars, houses and even land, but when it comes to selling timber, it's not easy doing it right the first time without help.
Dr. Dannie Reed, Mississippi State University Extension Service agent in Choctaw County, said a managed timber sale is the way to sell timber and get the best price. This requires an evaluation of the timber, an advertised sale and sealed bids.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A Mississippi 4-H program is doing what it can to ensure that a gun in the hands of a young person does not mean trouble.
Youth ages 8 to 18 enrolled in the Mississippi Field and Stream Program not only learn hunting, and wildlife and fisheries management, they also learn respect for guns and how and when to use them.