Feature Story from 2001
By Allison Matthews
Southern Rural Development Center
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Kids involved with extracurricular activities are more likely to complete high school than students who spend time alone between the end of their school day and the end of their parents' workday.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cotton farming in Mississippi was just another part of the national way of life affected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
National cotton markets were headquartered in building 4 of the World Trade Center before the attacks. When all airplanes were grounded across the United States, Mississippi cotton was at its peak need for defoliation before harvest, which is done by aerial application.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippians are a very generous people, and when tragedy strikes as it did in the terrorist attacks on the United States, many want to give money for a good cause.
Unfortunately, some people see the opportunity for fraud at times when emotions are high. Bogus charities are formed and unscrupulous people sometimes take advantage of the good intentions of people.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- When President George W. Bush placed 29 species on the protected lists with the most recent Endangered Species Act in late August, he included a species of toad found only in one pond in Harrison County.
The gopher toad now joins more than 700 other Mississippi plants and animals receiving state or federal protection because of dwindling numbers. Numerous others are being monitored to see that their numbers are maintained and improved.
By Charmain Tan Courcelle
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Traditionally, poultry litter has been spread as a fertilizer on pastures located in the 34 poultry-producing counties in Mississippi.
But a combination of long-term land application of poultry litter and decreases in pastureland has made this valuable byproduct too much of a good thing. The nutrient storage capacity of the soil in these south Mississippi counties has been pushed close to its limits, raising concerns of potential environmental problems from nutrient runoff into water sources.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Rains may help pecans grow plump, but the nuts first must survive the increased challenge of diseases that attack quality and threaten losses.
David Ingram, Mississippi State University's associate plant pathologist at the Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Raymond, said parts of the state have been hit hard with scab disease. Some varieties, including Desirable and Pawnee, were hit harder than others, such as Owens.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Plants that have been outside all summer need special care before they are rushed inside this fall to protect them from cooler temperatures.
Norman Winter, horticulturist with the Mississippi State University's Extension Service at the Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Raymond, said outdoor plants should be eased inside.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- One of many changes in agriculture is a move to produce crops with specific traits for particular end uses, but producing those crops can be risky business.
An identity-preserved crop is one in which specific genetic traits are known to exist. Special steps have been taken in buying the genetically-modified seed, planting, harvesting and storing to ensure crops with these traits are not mixed with other crops.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Sweetpotato growers are finding strong yields but weaker prices as they enter the homestretch for this year's harvest.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi State University will produce about 300,000 pounds of cheese in 2001, but the cupboard will be bare after Christmas, the big buying time of the year.
The Edward W. Custer Dairy Processing Plant is best known for making 3-pound, red wax-coated cannonballs of Edam cheese stamped with the MSU logo. Each year, the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station plant produces 55,000 of these signature products, along with another 2,000 reduced-fat versions of the same.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Confirmed cases of encephalitis and the West Nile Virus in Mississippi have health officials at a state of heightened awareness to the threat of mosquito-borne illnesses.
Dr. Lanny Pace, director of the State Diagnostic Lab in Jackson, told College of Veterinary Medicine faculty members at Mississippi State University in August that it was just a matter of time before the West Nile Virus hits Mississippi. State health officials have been monitoring closely for WNV as well as LaCrosse, St. Louis and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi veterinarians could find themselves on the front line of defense if the country were ever attacked by bioterrorists.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- For some Mississippi pumpkin growers, the real profits are found in creative marketing efforts, not just growing a good crop.
This year was Marshall Estes' first attempt at growing pumpkins on his family farm in Grenada County. His couple of acres may not make a major economic impact in the state's economy, but the sentiment behind it speaks volumes.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Breast cancer is a leading cause of cancer death in Mississippi women, but early detection and treatment mean a better chance for survival.
"Many deaths occur each year because women do not have regular mammograms or practice thorough breast self-exams," said Linda Patterson, health specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. "Some breast cancer victims discover lumps that could be treated successfully, but fail to get treatment in time."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Hunters who bag a great buck now have another shot at the attention they deserve through a recognition program that honors quality deer across the state.
The Magnolia White-Tailed Records Program was started in late June to serve as an unofficial record book for white-tailed deer in Mississippi. It is a joint effort of the Mississippi Wildlife Federation and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Most of Mississippi's Christmas trees made up this year for lost growth over the last couple of dry years, but the summer rains also increased the challenges from diseases.
Steve Dicke, forestry specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said 2001 was a much better year for growth, but growers had to control twig and shoot blight with fungicides, especially on Leyland cypress. In recent years, Leyland cypress trees were especially susceptible to Cercospora, which is associated with drought stress.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cute, chewable vitamins are a part of many people's memories of their daily childhood routine, but kids who eat a well-balanced diet actually don't need these supplements.
Parents often give children multivitamins to ensure they are getting the vitamins and minerals their bodies need to stay healthy. Many adults take supplements for the same reason.
Rebecca Kelly, human nutrition specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said eating right is the best way to get needed nutrition.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Insects and humans seem to like similar weather, so when damp and cold winters set in, people often find they are sharing their house with unwanted guests.
James Jarratt, entomologist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said most insects are simply opportunistic, seeking protected places to live.
"Cold usually doesn't kill insects, they just move inside looking for a comfortable place to stay," Jarratt said. "Most insects just wander in houses and stay when they find them warm and dry."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Today's headlines are enough to scare adults, but ignoring them around children may do more harm than good.
"It is good to minimize the amount of television reports children watch, but it may not be realistic to think they won't hear and be frightened by the news that has been saturating our world since Sept. 11," said Louise Davis, child and family development specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.