Feature Story from 2005
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Individuals are stepping up to the challenge and leading their communities to improve in areas from beautification to resource identification.
Now in its second year, the LeadershipPlenty program has proven successful in several Mississippi counties. Three new classes of participants recently graduated from the program with improved leadership skills they can use to better their communities.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi State University's vice president for the Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine is assuming additional duties as interim director of University Extension and Outreach.
Beginning July 1, Vance Watson will provide leadership for an organization that includes the MSU Extension Service, Division of Academic Outreach and Continuing Education and Office of Industrial Outreach Services.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's blueberry growers have much to celebrate with an anticipated bumper crop, good prices and high-quality berries.
John Braswell, horticulture specialist with the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Poplarville, said ideal weather has been the No. 1 contributor to this season's success.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Hurricane Ivan in 2004 served as a wake-up call for many coastal horse owners who drove hundreds of miles to find refuge at the Mississippi Horse Park near Starkville.
The 2005 hurricane season is already validating predictions for another eventful year for Gulf Coast residents still looking at months of risks before the season concludes on Nov. 1.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi the way it was when European settlers arrived can only be experienced in a few places, and one is the Crosby Arboretum near Picayune.
Just a couple of minutes away from one of south Mississippi's busiest roadways, the arboretum was established in 1980 as a living memorial to timber pioneer and philanthropist L.O. Crosby Jr. It was donated to Mississippi State University by the Crosby Foundation in 1997 and is one of only about 30 public arboretums in the United States.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi producers had been using 60-year-old recommendations from Alabama to fertilize ponds in preparation for young catfish, but now are seeing good results with updated recommendations made for local soils.
Fish producers fertilize nursery ponds to stimulate the growth of oxygen-producing algae. These phytoplankton become food for zooplankton, tiny animals that are eaten by catfish fry, or those less than 1 inch long. Fertilizer is used to alter the nutrient content of the water, making it more desirable for this tiny plant and animal life.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's corn may not produce a record yield three-peat in 2005, but many fields still have benefitted from spotty showers in recent weeks.
Much of Mississippi's corn is looking good despite being behind schedule. The areas of the state that haven't received rain since mid-April could prevent the state from posting high average yields. The northwest and north-central parts of the state are extremely dry, and non-irrigated corn there is suffering.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Patricia R. Knight has been named interim head of the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi.
Knight joined the staff of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station in 1997 as an assistant horticulturist at the South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station in Poplarville.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Home gardeners have an opportunity to learn a variety of gardening and landscaping lessons at monthly seminars offered by the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Verona.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- An upcoming workshop will help Mississippi entrepreneurs learn how to use the Internet to market their products and services.
"Electronic Retailing: Selling on the Internet" will be offered Aug. 23 in Meridian. Sponsored by the Mississippi State University Extension Service's Food and Fiber Center, each workshop is designed for new and existing businesses wanting to sell products and services through a retail Web site.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Medicare participants can learn about new prescription drug benefits during a free video conference Aug. 15.
Mississippi State University's Extension Service is sponsoring the interactive conference at county offices around the state. Anyone with interest in the new Medicare Part D program should contact a county Extension office to find the nearest conference site. A representative of the Social Security Administration will present information on the Medicare Part D program that begins Jan. 1.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A pet can teach children important life lessons, but parents must decide if their family has the time and devotion to raise one.
Micki Smith, a child and family development agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said parents may be amazed at the qualities children develop from owning a pet.
"Whether it's a fish, bird, dog or cat, pets can help children develop lifelong character traits, such as responsibility, compassion, empathy and the ability to love unconditionally," Smith said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Tropical Storm Cindy and Hurricane Dennis, practically twins in their arrival dates and targeted areas, combined to dump as much as 8 inches of rain in some parts of Mississippi, but the bulk of the state's commercial trees withstood potentially damaging winds.
Glenn Hughes, forestry professor with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said most coastal areas were spared Dennis' wind damage. He speculated that east central Mississippi took a harder hit, but still damage was light.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Careful parents can shop wisely to prevent buying back-to-school clothes from being either a battle with their children or another round of consumer debt.
Bobbie Shaffett, a family resource management specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said parents should have some back-to-school rules about spending before going shopping.
"The first step is to determine what you really need and how much that will cost," Shaffett said. "Look at what you can afford, and stay within your budget when you shop."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A child's first day of kindergarten represents the beginning of a new stage of life that parents should help make exciting and memorable.
Micki Smith, a child and family development area agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said parents must be sensitive to a child's first-day-of-school jitters.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The search for worthwhile activities each fall inspires students and sometimes their parents to investigate 4-H for the opportunities it might offer families.
Harvey Gordon, state coordinator of 4-H volunteer development with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said most people only think of 4-H as an organization for youth.
"While 4-H is for young people, adult volunteers are the key to the program's success," Gordon said. "Volunteers give of themselves to youth, and the results are better individuals and better communities."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Positive adult role models decrease the chances a student will drop out of high school, and community members can help children who fail to receive encouragement at home.
"Research shows that family involvement is one of the most important factors in helping a child succeed in life. Doing things together as a family -- even something as basic as eating meals together -- improves a child's behavior," said Patsilu Reeves, family life education specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Despite the arrival of rust in the state, Mississippi's soybean crop needs only a couple of well-timed rains to finish off what could be one of the best crops.
On July 18, rust was confirmed in a sentinel plot of soybeans in George County. Mississippi State University Extension Service plant pathologist Billy Moore collected 15 leaves from this quarter-acre plot that were exhibiting vague symptoms of rust. The fungus was found on one leaf.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cooperative Demonstration Field Days will provide landowners, managers and others with opportunities to learn how to plant and manage dove food plots for legal fields to hunt over during upcoming seasons.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Most homeowners go to a lot of trouble and expense to keep termites away, but a group of Mississippi State University scientists is inviting the ravenous Formosan subterranean termite to come and stay for dinner.
Researchers designed a field test at the McNeill Unit of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station in Pearl River County to study ways to help homes and other wooden construction resist the Formosan invasion. The test site includes four wooden structures and a small laboratory.