Feature Story from 2003
By Tricia Hopper
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A strong sense of compassion prompts some animal lovers to take in strays frequently, but caring for multiple pets in a single household may actually be detrimental to the animals' health and well being.
Dr. Stanley Robertson, Extension veterinarian at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, said while the benefits of pets are reputed, studies have shown that having more than two may create a variety of problems, both for the animals and the owner.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- More than 80 poinsettia varieties will be on display during Mississippi State University's annual horticulture Christmas open house from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Dec. 5.
The free event will take place in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences' greenhouses behind Dorman Hall. In addition to poinsettias in shades of red, pink, white and novelty colors, the open house will feature educational seminars, displays and door prizes. The horticultural student clubs will sell poinsettias, pecans, wreaths and garlands.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- When youth look forward to getting out into the "real world," they often forget the necessity of making car payments, paying daycare and meeting a monthly financial budget.
Mississippi State University Extension Service 4-H agents in Marion County hope to enlighten high school students about the responsibilities of adults in the real world. A hands-on life simulation, the "Real World" is designed to allow students to experience their futures in a fun and educational way.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Work, relationships and a host of other variables cause tension in people, but what stresses animals?
A team of Mississippi State University researchers led by poultry scientist Paul Thaxton is letting chickens "tell" them what produces stress in their lives. Their initial work was with broilers, and the team is currently studying laying hens.
The research shows that being allowed to roam unrestrained, often referred to as free-range, may not be the ideal lifestyle for a chicken.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station has selected Reuben Moore to fill the position of associate director.
As associate director, Moore is responsible for the overall coordination of MAFES research support operations on the Mississippi State University campus and at research and extension centers and branch experiment stations throughout the state.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cotton growers can get the latest in production recommendations from top agricultural specialists, researchers and fellow farmers Dec. 3-5 at the 20th annual Mississippi State University Extension Service's Cotton Production Short Course.
Cotton is one of the mid-South's most important industries and keeps hundreds of millions of dollars turning over in the region's economy. Even after record-producing years, growers need the most current recommendations for planting and managing next year's crop.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Although the Internal Revenue Service is urging Mississippians to update their addresses by Dec. 5 to receive refund checks, most taxpayers have nothing to worry about.
More than 2,300 income tax refund or advance child tax credit checks totaling more than $946,000 were returned to the IRS this year as undeliverable. But if taxpayers updated their addresses with the U.S. Postal Service, the refund checks should have been delivered to the new address.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Keeping one of the most common New Year's resolutions sometimes seems as elusive as that winning lottery ticket.
Weight-loss experts have long recommended lifestyle changes over quick-fix diets, and Mississippi State University Extension Service experts echo that sentiment.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Eating leftovers is a typical holiday tradition, but proper food handling is the key to good health in the following days.
Melissa Mixon, human nutritionist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said flu-like symptoms during the holidays could be the result of poorly handled leftovers.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Part of the challenge in bringing a steady supply of bacon, sausage and ham to the American dinner table is to produce pigs in an environmentally sound manner.
In normal operations, a small percentage of animals die before reaching market weight, and the mortalities must be disposed of in timely and environmentally safe ways. Producers face a significant issue in determining the best method of disposal.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Most agricultural land can make money in more ways than one, and many Mississippians are discovering that the development of natural resources can offer benefits year-round.
Land that is in timber is often a great place to hunt deer. A rice paddy in the winter can offer excellent waterfowl hunting, and walking trails and bed and breakfasts both need scenic settings to be successful. All of these take advantage of one of Mississippi's best natural resources, its land.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Parents today are keenly aware of safety concerns when it comes to purchasing gifts for their children, but grandparents and other gift-givers may not be.
To avoid giving a gift that is unsafe or not age-appropriate, Mississippi State University Extension Service child and family development specialist Louise Davis recommends shoppers pay attention to details.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Separation from loved ones is a fact of life for military families, but the holiday season can be especially tough for children and parents.
The uncertainty of dangerous conflict only adds to the stress of separation.
Louise Davis, a Mississippi State University Extension Service child and family development specialist, said civilian families can take several steps to ease the difficulty of the season for families directly affected by military deployment.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Horse-owners hoping to get a great deal on stud services through a unique Mississippi State University auction have an extra two months to make their bids.
The MSU College of Veterinary Medicine's Stallion Service Auction bid deadline has been extended to 5 p.m. Feb. 2, 2004. The original deadline was Dec. 15.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Ponds that look low this winter don't necessarily need repairs but might simply be the result of an inexpensive and effective form of management.
Mississippi has more than 250,000 farm ponds of 40 acres or less. Together, they are a larger natural resource than all the state's public waters combined.
Marty Brunson, fisheries specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said pond owners have historically not managed these waters to their best advantage.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A new law set to go into effect Jan. 1 should make it easier for consumers to protect themselves from identity theft, a crime that claimed 814 Mississippi victims in 2002.
On Dec. 4, President Bush signed into law the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003. According to the White House information on the legislation, it provides tools "that expand access to credit and other financial services for all Americans, enhance(s) the accuracy of consumers' financial information and help(s) fight identity theft."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Drivers now have a convenient, affordable way to help support youth development and education in Mississippi.
Purchasing a 4-H license plate adds $30 to the regular tag renewal fee, $24 of which goes directly to the Mississippi 4-H Foundation. The remaining $6 goes to the state of Mississippi to cover production costs.
"This is a great way for people to support the state's youth in developing life skills and becoming responsible adults," said Betty Rawlings with Mississippi State University's Extension Service 4-H Youth Development Department.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Flu vaccines may be in short supply, but other preventive measures can protect people from this season's colds and flu.
While Mississippi's flu numbers remain moderate, the bordering states of Tennessee and Arkansas are among the nation's 13 states reporting widespread cases of influenza by December, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site. Health officials agree that the worst of the flu season is yet to come.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Keith Coble and Terry Hanson are listening a lot as part of their effort to reduce the economic risks associated with production of catfish and other aquaculture species.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi State University's Extension Service Director Joe McGilberry's duties have been expanded to a new role as the executive director for University Extension and Outreach.
In making the announcement, MSU President Charles Lee stated colleges and universities are responding to the call from stakeholders to make their expertise more accessible to the public as a resource for economic development and improvements in quality-of-life issues.