Feature Story from 1998
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi farmers have a history of concern for their environment. After all, they depend on it for their income, their families' health, and their year 'round enjoyment. Recent research indicates that current agricultural practices are improving the state's water quality.
By Jamie Vickers
MISSISSIPPI STATE - A program started on a shoestring budget to educate 2,000 Mississippi Head Start families in good nutrition has become a national success.
Nutrition $ense was started in 1996 with a $500 Kraft Foods Consumer Center Media Grant. Patty Draper, home economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said a six-person team began with families in Central Mississippi.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- When the votes have been counted and a new local official takes office, work has just begun for the 25-year-old Center for Governmental Technology.
The center is a unit within the Enterprise and Community Resource Development program area of Mississippi State University's Extension Service. It was established in 1973 to help local officials understand the duties they are to perform.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Catfish that don't taste right when headed for the processing plant won't make it to the dinner table until they do, a setback that costs the industry millions of dollars a year.
Mississippi processed about 315 million pounds of catfish in 1997, making catfish one of the top four agribusinesses in the state. An important reason for the success of the industry is the consistently mild, sweet flavor of the fish grown in ponds.
By Jamie Vickers
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A drought, hurricane and fewer growers will not prove to be a problem for Mississippians who appreciate homegrown Christmas trees this holiday season.
"The 1997 production figures were up 6.5 percent from the previous year, and the sales from the choose-and-cut market were up 10 percent," said Dr. Bob Daniels, Extension forestry specialist at Mississippi State University. "This is our third straight year of increases."
Last year 245,000 Christmas trees were sold in Mississippi at a value of $7.6 million.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Holiday travelers fill the roads with traffic, making accidents more likely, but travelers can take precautions to increase their chances of arriving safely.
According to the Mississippi Department of Safety, 858 people died on Mississippi roads in 1997. Of these, 14 were killed in accidents at Christmas and New Year's.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- When cold weather arrives, human nature is to close up the house and turn on the heater, but sometimes air quality loses in the battle to stay warm.
Dr. Frances Graham, housing specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said moisture, pets, smoking, molds and carbon monoxide affect indoor air quality.
By Jamie Vickers
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Eat, drink and be merry during the holidays, but if activities include alcohol, some people need to refrain.
"There are several groups of people who should not drink alcohol at all," said Dr. Barbara McLaurin, human nutrition specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. "These include anyone planning to drive or engage in skill-related activities, anyone using medication, children and adolescents, or those who cannot drink in moderation."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Four bundles of energy are the legacy of a cherished Great Dane who lost a battle with cancer this year.
Barksdale's owner, Dick Tinsley of Lauderdale, started looking for a mate for his 8-year-old companion after the local veterinarian diagnosed late-stage cancer in 1997. As time was running out, his hopes turned to sperm donation and artificial insemination options at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many homeowners are considering ways to put their Mississippi homes to work for them in the growing business trend of bed and breakfasts.
"As Mississippi's tourism grows, so does the interest in bed and breakfasts," said Linda Mitchell, coordinator of the Family and Youth Center in Lee County. Mitchell recently arranged a conference in Verona, Jackson and at Mississippi State University held consecutively and joined audiovisually by technology.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Tragedies happen every month, week and day of the year, so why do they seem so much more devastating around the holidays?
Dr. Louise Davis, child and family development specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said people naturally notice unexpected events more than the common experiences of life. Even when someone has battled an illness for a long time, their family and friends still don't expect a death around the holidays.
By Jamie Vickers
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Don't break a New Year's resolution to save money this year. Create a budget in six steps that helps manage money with careful planning.
"Successful money management requires planning," said Dr. Beverly Howell, family economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. "It also requires self-discipline and the ability to say ëno' to unnecessary spending, which is why saving money is an easy New Year's resolution to break."
The first of six steps to creating and staying with a budget is to determine goals.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- While heredity decrees that some people start life with a pair of glasses and some centenarians need no vision aids, eyes should be babied so they last a lifetime.
Linda Patterson, health education specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said eyes are fragile and should be treated with care. Have eyes examined regularly, and take all measures to avoid eye injuries.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A program aimed at improving soybean yields in Mississippi helped farmers produce 1998 soybean yields that, despite the drought, averaged 45 bushels an acre, 20 more than the state average.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Numerous Mississippi farmers are planting vegetation buffer strips between crop land and waterways to improve water quality and fight erosion.
Dr. Larry Oldham, soil specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said buffer strips are narrow strips of grass or trees between crop land and surface waters that slow the water coming off crop land.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Low yields and market problems brought on by Mississippi's weather challenges and Asian economic problems resulted in an estimated 8 percent loss to the state's agriculture's total gross income.
Dr. John Robinson, agricultural economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said observers should remember 1997 was a record year, and supplies were high going into 1998. The "Asian Flu" resulted in less movement of U.S. products to Pacific Rim countries.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The poultry industry in Mississippi fared well again in 1998, retaining its top agricultural spot in the state as excellent prices boosted the projected value into record territory.
Mississippi broilers and eggs combined to bring an estimated 1998 value of $1.46 billion, up 6.6 percent from 1997. Poultry topped forestry, valued at $1.31 billion, as the state's top agricultural commodity. Broilers saw a projected 8 percent increase in value to $1.3 billion, while eggs actually declined 5 percent from 1997 to $139 million.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's timber industry may break its string of record years as preliminary figures show a slight decrease in value as higher prices couldn't completely offset reduced harvests.
The state's timber industry has a 1998 projected value of $1.31 billion, down about $3 million from 1997. This fraction of 1 percent decrease still put it above the 1996 harvest value.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi cotton growers chose to plant fewer acres in 1998 knowing the world market offered little promise. The hot, dry summer prevented a repeat of 1997's record yields, but growers still managed to harvest near the five-year average.
Dr. John Robinson, agricultural economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, predicted the 1998 farm-gate value of Mississippi's cotton will be about $541 million, down 16 percent from the previous year. Cotton felt a triple whammy from reduced acres, smaller yields and lower prices.
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