Feature Story from 1999
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Rural medical doctors across Northeast Mississippi recently made time in their busy schedules to encourage future physicians waiting in their shadows.
Dr. J. Edward Hill, director of the family medicine residency program at North Mississippi Medical Center, helped arrange the "shadowing" opportunity for participants in a special Rural Medical Scholars Program last summer. This was the second year for the six-week program designed for upcoming high school seniors considering careers in medicine.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- People who illegally harvest fish and wildlife jeopardize animal populations, hunters' reputations and public safety.
Conservation officers with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks are gearing up for an unofficial season as poaching activities increase in the fall.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Extremely high temperatures and dry conditions combined to deliver the knockout blow to Mississippi's 1999 commercial pumpkin crop.
Dr. David Nagel, horticulturist with Mississippi State University Extension Service, said after growers planted pumpkins from late June through July, rain almost never fell in the North Mississippi fields.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Waterfowl hunters should pack their hunting regulations along with their gear as new changes mean some old practices can put them on the wrong side of the law.
The major change is that hunters can flood and manipulate natural vegetation, and then hunt over it. They can also flood harvested or unharvested agricultural fields and hunt over them, but they cannot scatter seeds, bush hog the field or do some other non-agricultural practice.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Thieves often find abundant opportunities in rural areas where lower populations and seclusion mean home contents, livestock and farm equipment are all easier targets.
When livestock, equipment or timber is missing, a little-known Mississippi investigative agency moves into action to recover the property. The Mississippi Agricultural and Livestock Theft Bureau within the Department of Agriculture and Commerce is responsible for working all agriculture-related crimes. It has a statewide recovery rate of about 50 percent.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Farmers are facing some of the lowest prices in 25 years as they harvest crops, many with yields greatly reduced by drought.
Problems from steadily rising production costs and falling prices are magnified by the lack of rain this year. In recent weeks, cotton prices have been as low as 45 cents a pound, soybeans $4.63 per bushel and rice $6 per hundredweight.
Dr. John Lee, ag economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said these prices are significantly lower than prices in recent years.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi corn stayed one step ahead of the drought and rewarded farmers with what promises to be the state's highest per acre yield.
Farmers are expecting yields averaging 115 bushels an acre, topping the previous record of 107 bushels. As of the second week of September, corn was ahead of schedule with 85 percent harvested.
Dr. Erick Larson, corn specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said early planting was key to the success of this year's crop.
By Laura Martin
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Reports of illegal dumping in the state have decreased during the past few years because of tougher laws and an increase in environmental awareness among residents.
To prevent improper waste disposal, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality accepts complaints from individuals who witness illegal dumping. Callers can submit the complaint anonymously or leave their name.
By Jana Foust,
Southern Rural Development Center
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Rural development specialists say four major trends are shaping the workforce of tomorrow -- technology, service sector growth, changes in how companies do business and globalization.
"Technology is changing the way that we work," said David Freshwater, director of the Tennessee Valley Authority Rural Studies Program headquartered at the University of Kentucky. "For workers to adapt to these changes, they must be willing to stay abreast of technology, learn it and use it.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- With no end in sight to the drought, the only people with successful gardens this fall will likely be those willing to trade high water bills for the fresh taste of homegrown vegetables.
Dr. David Nagel, Extension vegetable specialist at Mississippi State University, said fall gardens without irrigation have almost no hope across most of the state.
By Jamie Vickers,
Coordinator, Pine Belt Family and Youth Center
HATTIESBURG -- Most people do not know what is required to be a successful homeowner, but with help from local specialists, buying and maintaining a new home can be easy.
Dr. Frances Graham, housing specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said many loan and mortgage companies require individuals to receive homebuyer education training to secure a loan.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- State growers had every reason in mid-summer to expect one of the largest soybean yields ever, but then saw that chance stolen by drought.
Dr. Alan Blaine, soybean specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the lack of rain since mid-July ruined yields of late-planted soybeans, while doing less damage to yields of early planted, early-maturing varieties.
"We had the potential to have the best crop we've ever had," Blaine said. "A lot of the crop was one rain away from making an excellent yield."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The growing problem of drugs is reaching many farmers who have become targets for theft of a crop fertilizer that is a key ingredient in the manufacture of an illegal drug.
Anhydrous ammonia is a common liquid fertilizer often used on cotton. It is also a necessary chemical in the manufacture of crystal methamphetamine, an illegal drug. It is stored in pressurized tanks in fields and is highly corrosive, burning skin if it comes in contact.
By Laura Martin
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Six months of preparation earned a team of four Mississippi teenagers a trip to Kansas and a second place win at the 1999 4-H Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program National Contest.
The Lowndes County 4-H team received higher honors at the Aug. 1 competition than any other Mississippi team in years past. They also placed first in the wildlife management plan team activity.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The drought that began the middle of July has taken a harsh toll on Mississippi's cotton crop, but October would be the worst time for that drought to end.
In September, growers began harvesting their first fields, typically among the lowest yielding acres in a year's crop. Rains during harvest will further reduce the fiber quality.
John Coccaro, Sharkey County agent with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the first 25 percent of the crop were feast and famine fields.
By Jana Foust,
Southern Rural Development Center
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The future of the rural Southern workforce show signs of hope, but rural development specialists temper hope with caution as the new millennium approaches.
"The 1990s have shown a significant migration of people to the rural South that have higher levels of education and income," said Dr. Bo Beaulieu, director of the Southern Rural Development Center headquartered at Mississippi State University.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Six Mississippi State University representatives were U.S. Department of Agriculture guests in Washington, D.C., as they saw first-hand the secure way this agency compiles its monthly crop production report.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Football fans can break out of their tailgate ruts with a little creativity, but that does not necessarily mean turning their backs on traditions.
Cary Sutphin, culinary researcher with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, said tailgate traditions vary from region to region and season to season.
Regions and Seasons...
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Fuel stockpiled for emergencies can cause an emergency of its own if not stored and used properly.
As temperatures drop, many people store extra fuel for heating, grills and to run machinery such as generators. While some preparation is wise, it can be dangerous if proper safety measures are not followed.
Herb Willcutt, farm safety specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said stored fuels present safety challenges if not handled correctly.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Houses that look good from the road carry higher price tags, a fact that turns landscape investments into money in the bank when selling a house.
Dr. David Tatum is the state nursery specialist with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and the Mississippi State University Extension Service. He has tips for homeowners looking to increase the value of their home before it's sold.
"Money spent working on the landscape is a good investment and will bring actual returns," Tatum said.
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