Feature Story from 2003
By Tricia Hopper
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- As common as cowbells and bulldogs, Mississippi State University's bright red Edam cheese "cannon ball" is easily recognized at tailgates and parties across the state and beyond.
Ever since Edam cheese was first introduced on the Starkville campus in 1938, fans of this dairy delight have made it a university trademark. The Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station's Sales Store sold about 42,000 regular Edam cheese balls during the 2002 Christmas holiday season.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's wetter-than-normal summer allowed sod producers to save on irrigation costs, but the rains also delayed some work and harvests.
"The rains were a plus and a minus. Growers were able to cut down on irrigation costs, on moving equipment and on pumping water," said Wayne Wells, turfgrass specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "But the rains also slowed down sod sales because producers can't harvest when building construction is delayed. If growers have to delay harvest a few weeks, they can't just make that time up."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- When trick-or-treaters come knocking this Halloween, they just might be pleasantly surprised by treats that are not of the sweet variety.
Louise Davis, child and family development specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said children typically enjoy small toys and other candy alternatives as much as traditional treats.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- 4-H in Mississippi is renewing its emphasis on programs aimed to fill the free time youth have after school with fun and educational activities.
Mississippi State University's Extension 4-H Afterschool offers youth programs weekdays between 3 and 6 p.m. Nationally, 4-H has partnered with J.C. Penney and John Deere companies to offer more programs and new curricula to youth after school is out for the day.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The possibility of a quarantine on cotton produced in five North Delta counties motivated growers to continue in the regionwide boll weevil eradication program by 89 percent, the largest percentage recorded on a Mississippi referendum of this kind.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Two veterinary students at Mississippi State University are the first to study wildlife populations in the College of Veterinary Medicine's dual-degree program.
But their particular interests in wildlife population health are very different. Brittany Baughman is studying epidemiology, and Ellen Lark is focusing on conservation and reproduction of endangered wildlife populations.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome claims 40 percent fewer babies since the "Back to Sleep" campaign began in 1994, but researchers still don't know why SIDS strikes 1.6 per thousand Mississippi live births.
SIDS is the No. 1 cause of death in full-term infants 1 week to 1 year old and claims about 3,000 U.S. babies each year. The death is unpredictable, but the highest numbers occur between 2 and 4 months of age. The risk declines dramatically after age 6 months.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The national FFA organization is recognizing Tim Chamblee, associate professor of poultry science at Mississippi State University, for advancing agricultural education and for his personal commitment to FFA.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi State University Extension Service agents are not finding jubilant growers beside every cotton field, but the state still should be on target for a new record average yield.
Mississippi's cotton growers harvested a record 901 pounds per acre in 1997, followed by four years between 737 and 642 pounds. Last year, growers were anticipating a new record when a hurricane and a tropical storm hit during harvest and dropped average yields to 808 pounds per acre.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Top quality horses and beef animals will move through the auction ring Nov. 20 as Mississippi State University releases 23 horses and almost 100 surplus cattle to the highest bidders.
MSU and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station will host the 21st annual Animal Production Sale at the Mississippi Horse Park, AgriCenter and Fairgrounds, which is located on Poorhouse Road south of Starkville. The horse sale begins at 11 a.m., and lunch will be served at noon. The cattle sale will begin around 1 p.m.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A new horticulture complex in Poplarville will bear the name of the current chairman of the U.S. Senate's Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, pending congressional approval.
Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., has introduced a bill, H.R. 3372, in the U.S. House of Representatives calling for the facility to be named the Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory. Cochran, R-Miss., is serving his fifth term in the Senate.
Mississippi's other congressmen, Chip Pickering, Bennie Thompson and Roger Wicker, are co-sponsors of the bill.
By Tricia Hopper
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- As more people begin using personal computers, they quickly learn that computer viruses are hard to avoid.
Dan Brook, head of Mississippi State University's Computer Applications and Services department, said computers are infected by viruses primarily through e-mail attachments.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The best intentions regarding spending limits are often laid waste when it comes to Christmas shopping.
It's easy to blow the budget on this season's must-have items, the matching sweater to go with the pants, and the newly released movie or CD title. But Susan Cosgrove, area family resource management agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said there are ways to keep spending in check and still get good gifts for everyone on the shopping list.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Enjoy the fresh smell of a live Christmas tree longer by shopping at one of the state's remaining choose-and-cut farms.
Steve Dicke, Christmas tree specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said between 1985 and 1987, the state had about 450 choose-and-cut farms. The 100 remaining farms represent some of the best quality trees available this holiday season. Locally grown trees offer fresher products than consumers will find on most retail lots.
MISSISSIPPI STATE --If decorating for the holiday season involves candles, remember to use them properly to avoid unnecessary and potentially tragic accidents.
Ted Gordon, a Mississippi State University Extension Service safety specialist at the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Verona, said although candles are used to decorate homes and offices year-round, the number of candle fires increases significantly during the holiday season.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Southerners often cook as though they believe that holiday food must be rich and calorie-filled to be delicious, but it turns out that light foods can be tasty.
Melissa Mixon, human nutrition specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said cooks can reduce the fat in traditional desserts by as much as 75 percent by using substitutions.
"You can't eliminate all fat since some is needed for flavor and texture, but high numbers of calories can be cut by reducing fat grams," Mixon said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- For many people, clothing-shaped gift boxes under the tree trigger anxiety and memories of those flamingo-pink, too-small sweaters Grandma is famous for giving.
But giving clothing as a holiday gift does not have to be a traumatic experience for giver or recipient.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A warm, crackling fire may get people in the holiday spirit, but they should consider safety issues before striking the first match.
Herb Willcutt, safety specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said homeowners should attend to chimney safety, wood selection and insect concerns before, during and after fireplace season.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Gift ideas abound for people who enjoy spending time in front of a crackling fire.
"Safety, convenience and attractiveness are good factors to consider when making gift purchases for fireplace lovers," said Herb Willcutt, safety specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
Screens are a safety factor first, and an aesthetic consideration second. There are pre-formed screens that are set in place around the fireplace. The fireplace screen does not have to be the exact size of the fireplace.