Feature Story from 2000
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Burns from mishandled fireworks are a continual threat, but this year's dry weather means fireworks present a serious fire threat in many areas of the state.
Earlier this year, Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove issued a statewide burn ban, but this was rescinded when certain areas of the state received sufficient rain. However, burn bans remain in many counties still under drought conditions. Because of Fourth of July fireworks sales, many communities have extended burn bans to limit or prohibit the use of fireworks.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Giving a food product a longer shelf life means increased quality and often opens new markets.
Foods that stay fresh longer have greater consumer appeal. They also can survive the transport time needed to reach distant markets, or can be stored fresh and used when needed to maintain a steady supply.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi farmers reeling from last year's low prices and often-poor yields are pinning their hopes on many crops not projected to perform much better in 2000.
With figures being finalized for 1999, agricultural economists show that most of the state's top crops declined in value last year. The traditional high dollar crops were the worst hit.
John Lee, head of agricultural economics at Mississippi State University, said 1999 was a tough year for farmers as typically average yields were sold for very low prices.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Teachers and politicians alike preach the value of computers for every student, but is access the only issue?
An average home computer starts at $1,300 for hardware, software and accessories. While schools can get discounts through mass purchases and government programs, sometimes other priorities rank higher than providing a computer for every student in class.
By Chantel Lott
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Parents can spruce up school lunches without sacrificing nutrition or their children's satisfaction by including them in the planning process.
"The first step in planning any school lunch should be to ask a child what he or she wants to eat. Children tend to eat healthier if they have a say in the meal," said Barbara McLaurin, human nutrition specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
By Chantel Lott
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Parents' concerns are rising about the violence in the schools their children attend.
More and more parents are searching for information to educate themselves and their children about the risk of violence in school. Some preventative measures can ease the anxiety of parents and of children.
By Chantel Lott
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- As parents begin to prepare kids for the annual return to classes, their thoughts turn to financing and selecting school clothes.
Everlyn Johnson, an apparel and textile program leader with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, had some basic tips for all shoppers.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The big yellow school bus is such a part of daily routines for thousands of Mississippi youth that many people take for granted that it is safe.
While statistics show that the overwhelming majority of youth riding the bus arrive safely every day, accidents do happen. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are an average of 128 school bus-related fatalities each year. Most fatalities occur in other vehicles involved in the accident, but about 8 percent are school bus passengers.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- What little rice was planted on Mississippi farms this spring is looking good at the halfway point in the growing season.
According to the Mississippi Agricultural Statistics Service, state farmers planted about 20 percent fewer rice acres, dropping the state total to about 260,000 acres, down from 323,000 acres harvested in 1999. Some rice experts expect that number to drop even further. Prices which were a low $5.25 in 1999 are even lower this year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Congressman Roger Wicker brought a 10-member delegation of Russian Duma members and staff to Mississippi State University this summer as part of their trip to the United States to see democracy in action.
The delegation spent the day on campus visiting the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Engineering Research Center and meeting senior MSU officials. They also learned how the land- grant system generates research and passes that information on to the people of the state.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Two faculty members from Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine witnessed first-hand the uphill struggle educators and agricultural trade associations face following decades of communism and in the aftermath of government instability in Albania.
By Crystel Bailey
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippians enjoy telling about close encounters with most wildlife species, but snakes are usually a different story.
Summertime activities place people outdoors during a time when snakes are more active. Awareness of potential snake habitats and cleaning up those areas may be the best bets for avoiding an unwanted encounter.
"Snakes are seen more frequently when mating, in spring, early summer months and then fall," said Dean Stewart, wildlife specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Veterinary college tends to produce clinical practitioners despite the graduates' ideal preparation as researchers, a national problem Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine is hoping to address through a summer research program.
Dr. Jerald Ainsworth is director of the Summer Research Experience for Veterinary Students at MSU's College of Veterinary Medicine. He said veterinarians' broad scientific background in anatomy and physiology and multiple animal species prepares them well for careers in research.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Heat is an enemy of dairy milk production, and Mississippi's heat and humidity combine to significantly cut production during the summer.
When outside temperatures reach 75 to 80 degrees, dairy cattle experience mild heat stress. At 90 degrees and higher, they experience severe heat stress. During heat stress, a cow's normal body temperature of 101.5 degrees can reach 105 to 106 degrees.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Two relatively dry years are enabling loggers to reach less accessible trees, creating an oversupply of timber during a season that traditionally has sluggish markets.
"The extended dry weather is compounding the problem with prices, especially pulpwood," said Bob Daniels, forestry specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "Pulp mills are only buying the wood needed immediately, so inventories back up in the woods."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi State University is researching ways to make a new cultivation practice used by many Mississippi rice farmers more profitable.
About 50 percent of Mississippi's rice acreage is farmed using precision leveling and straight levees as farmers have moved away from the traditional levees that curve to follow the natural contour of the land. These new rice paddies follow a constant slope of the land, with straight levees cutting through the land at right angles to the slope of the field.
By Crystel Bailey
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Health officials expect more people to survive a heart attack when changes are made to simplify cardiopulmonary resuscitation by inexperienced bystanders.
"Since most cardiac arrests take place in the home, a trained CPR provider is not usually available. For this reason, most victims in need of CPR do not receive immediate help," said Linda Patterson, a registered nurse and health education specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Insects and weather are usually willing accomplices in their attempt to rob cotton growers of maximum yields, but most pests this year have left the weather to do the bulk of the dirty work.
Blake Layton, cotton entomologist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said insect damage has been sporadic across the state but generally lighter than normal.
JACKSON -- Mississippi will entertain about 1,500 county agents and their families from across the nation in early August as it hosts the 85th annual National Association of County Agricultural Agents Professional Improvement Conference in Jackson.
The event is scheduled for Aug. 6 to 10 and will be headquartered at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. A day of tours will take the group across Mississippi to see cultural attractions, as well as agricultural and manufacturing industries in the state.
MEMPHIS -- Mississippi State University co-hosted a conference in late July that plans to brighten the outlook for agriculture in the Midsouth.
About 175 agricultural leaders from Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana gathered in Memphis to study the current situation and look ahead to what the future of agriculture may hold. Farmers, lenders and suppliers were joined by Extension Service professionals, agriculture specialists and researchers.
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