Monday, September 15, 2014

Litter Can Be Harmful To Wildlife and Pets

Released: Sept. 12, 2014
Contact: Dr. Jim Miller, 662-325-2619

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Extension Outdoors

Litter can be harmful to wildlife and pets

By James E. “Jim” Miller
Professor Emeritus, Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Aquaculture
Mississippi State University

People discard millions of tons of trash daily in recycling containers or garbage cans, but unfortunately, many people leave trash in other places, where it can harm wildlife and pets.

Whether it is carelessly tossed out of car windows or off the sides of boats, left on the ground from routine farming or construction activities, or casually dropped while walking down the street, litter is more than an unsightly nuisance.

I am continually amazed at the amount of trash I see in my neighborhood, from food wrappers and bottles to packaging straps and cigarette butts. It makes me wonder if these unthinking people litter in their own yards as well. 

Unfortunately, some of that trash can pose serious threats to wildlife, fish, pets and even people.

Occasionally we see dramatic evidence of some animal that has been ensnared, maimed or killed by improperly discarded trash. Photographs of fish or turtles whose bodies are girdled by six-pack plastic rings, raccoons with their heads trapped in metal containers, pelicans dead of starvation from ingesting bottle caps and fishing line, or ospreys entangled in discarded monofilament are all too common.

I grew up on a farm and remember baling hay with hemp or sisal twine. At the time, I never thought about the fact that such twine could be a problem to wildlife or domestic livestock. However, my dad taught me to wrap the twine around a stick and save it, because it might come in handy to hastily fasten a gate, temporarily mend a break in a net or hang a tool on a nail in the barn. We never disposed of such twine, rope, or string, as long as it had some potentially useful purpose. Once it lost its usefulness, we burned it.

Today, baling twine is made of either sisal, which is biodegradable, or polypropylene, a non-biodegradable plastic. If it is disposed of irresponsibly, the plastic type can ensnare or even kill domestic animals and wildlife alike.

A friend recently shared with me a trail camera photograph of a very nice buck, two weeks prior to the bow-hunting season, with several yards of pink polymer hay baling twine entangled around both antlers. He then shared with me a second photo, from the opening day of bow season, when he found a buck -- likely the same one -- ensnared and locked together with another buck by pink polymer twine. They were both dead, probably after much suffering.

Admittedly, bucks sometimes get their antlers hooked together while fighting or sparring, but most of them break apart when one dominates the other or before becoming severely impaired. It would be pure speculation to say whether these two bucks might have separated and lived, despite their fighting and sparring, had their antlers and necks not been entangled with this hay baling twine. But I’d venture to guess that the baling twine made their death more likely.

I would encourage my fellow hunters to pick up twine or other discarded materials that could be a threat to wildlife and wind it up on a stick or carry it away for disposal or recycling. It won’t take much time or effort, and it could save an animal from a lot of suffering.

The bottom line is that improper disposal of trash of any kind is illegal, unattractive and harmful. It can be fatal to both domestic and wild animals. Please dispose of trash and refuse in an appropriate manner by recycling or placing it in an approved trash container. We all appreciate those who make an effort to protect the health and beauty of our treasured wildlife habitats and the neighborhoods and communities we call home.

Source: FCNews Staff / Press release - Msu Ag Communications News

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Digital Dangers Lurk for Students as School Begins


By Susan Collins-Smith / July 18, 2014
Contact: Jamie Varner, 662-325-3226; Dr. Mariah Morgan, 662-325-3226; or Ellen Graves, 662-325-2400

MSU Ag Communications - MISSISSIPPI STATE -- As students head back to the classroom, parents should remain aware of their children’s online behavior -- whether for school assignments or socializing.

Jamie Varner, an instructor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service Center for Technology Outreach, said parents should warn their children about digital dangers and take practical steps to help keep them safe.
KidZui, The Internet for Kids
“The No. 1 thing parents can do is communicate with their children about what they should and should not do when they are online,” Varner said. “The Internet can be a good source of information, but it poses some risks. Innocent searches can bring up websites with harmful malware, software, viruses or inappropriate content.”

Varner recommends setting up the computer in a central area of the home, such as the family room, where the monitor is visible to others.

“Think about when your children will be using the computer,” she said. “If the computer is a desktop and homework gets done while the adults are preparing dinner, maybe the computer should be near the kitchen.”

Other options to help control content when children are unsupervised are Internet filters and passwords.  To password-protect sites in Internet Explorer, use the Tools tab to access Internet Options and then select the Security tab. Highlight Restricted Sites, and left-click on Sites. Then, in the available field, type the restricted website. Press the Add button. Repeat these steps for each website that should not be accessed.

Internet filters reduce the possibility children can access inappropriate material. Filters can be customized to meet individual needs. Some filters can also manage instant messaging software and social media sites and provide a detailed activity log. Internet filters can be purchased or downloaded for free from the Internet, Varner said.

Mariah Morgan, an assistant Extension professor with the Center for Technology Outreach, said passwords can be set up through a computer’s internal settings to control what content children can access. No special software is needed.

Child-friendly search engines, such as Google’s Safe Search and KidZui, can limit children’s ability to stumble across explicit material, Morgan said.

The same safety features can be implemented on mobile devices. “Keeping kids safe on Smartphones and tablets can be a bit more difficult, but it’s not impossible,” Morgan said.

Both Apple and Android operating systems allow parents to limit online activity and app purchases on phones and tablets. Parents can set content filters in both the Google Play and iTunes stores to prevent the download of apps that cost money. To stop the download of free apps, parents can block access to both stores entirely by installing a password or personal identification number. App downloads from websites can be disabled in the settings menu. Most devices with newer operating systems allow different profiles for different users.

Apps also can help parents enforce limits. Kid Mode keeps child-friendly apps in a locked area on the device. Net Nanny and Funamo apps filter content and provide email reports on the child’s activity, Morgan said.

Many children interact with friends routinely on social media. Ellen Graves, Extension social media strategist, suggests parents set limits and discuss ground rules before allowing a child to join a social media network.

“Children should be mature enough to make sound decisions about what they post and who they communicate with via social media before they join any network,” Graves said. “Make sure they understand they should never post personal information, such as a phone number or an address, that could put them, their families or friends in danger.”

Encourage children to create a private profile, which allows only approved individuals to interact with the child. Parents should know the usernames and passwords of each social media account their child has, Graves said.

“Be open with your children and make sure they know you will be monitoring their social media activity for their safety,” she said. “It is also a good idea to define the amount of time they can spend on the Internet. Of course, these rules can change as the child becomes more mature and demonstrates good judgment.”

Software, such as Net Nanny and My Mobile Watchdog, can help parents keep track of a child’s social media activity, but these and some other programs charge fees. Apps, such as Screen Time, help restrict the time spent on iPhones and iPads. Parents can also follow or friend children as an additional way to monitor their behavior, Graves said.

Source: FCNews Staff - MSU Ag Communication press release

Monday, September 8, 2014

Oct 2nd set for 41st MSU Ornamental Horticulture Field Day


News Release - Sept. 5, 2014
Writer: Susan Collins-Smith
Contact: Dr. Gene Blythe, 601-403-8774

Horticulture field day set for early October

Horticulture enthusiasts and industry professionals can hear research updates (see listing below of all presentations) and tour demonstration gardens at the Mississippi State University South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station in Poplarville on Thursday, October 2nd 

Scientists with the MSU Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, Extension Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service will deliver information on pest management, variety trial results and landscaping during the 41st annual Ornamental Horticultural Field Day.   

Other topics include methods to prevent regrowth of crape myrtles after removal, blueberry propagation for home gardeners, hand protection for nursery workers, native plants for landscaping wet areas, Spotted Wing Drosophila and the impact of chromosome doubling on traits of scarlet eggplant.

On-site registration begins at 9 am and the program begins at 9:30 am.  Lunch and refreshments are included in the $10 registration fee. The registration fee is $6.50 for students.

The South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station is located at 711 W. North Street, across from Pearl River Community College.

For more information or directions to the trial garden site, contact Gene Blythe at 601-403-8774. For a complete list of seminar topics, visit

Topics Scheduled for Presentation at the
Ornamental Horticulture Field Day on Thursday, October 2, 2014

• Top Performers from the 2014 Variety Trials at the South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station – Dr. Gene Blythe, MSU-CREC

• Kaolin Clay Application as a Deterrent for Ambrosia Beetle Attack at Ornamental Nurseries - Christopher Werle,  USDA-ARS

• Elephant Ears (Colocacia and Alocasia) for the Landscape - Mike Anderson, MSU-CREC

• Measuring the Effect of Hand Protection on Worker Effort When Moving Small Container Plants - Scott  Langlois, MSU-CREC

• Southern Bunch Grapes - Dr. Eric Stafne, MSU-CREC

• Evaluation of Sabal Palm Species for Trunking and Hardiness - Dr. Cecil Pounders, USDA-ARS

• To Kill a Crapemyrtle - Dr. Anthony Witcher, USDA-ARS

• Native Plants for Landscaping Wet Areas in the Home Landscape - Patricia Drackett, MSU-Crosby Arboretum

• Spotted-Wing Drosophila: A New Invasive Pest in Mississippi - Dr. Blair Sampson, USDA-ARS

• All-America Selections Winners for 2014 - Dr. Gene Blythe, MSU-CREC

• Propagation of Blueberries for the Home Gardener - Melinda Butler, USDA-ARS

• The Effect of Pest Management Strategies on Small Scale Tomato Production in Mississippi - Christian Stephenson, MSU-ES

• Impact of Chromosome Doubling on Traits of Scarlet Eggplant - Dr. Hamidou Sakhanokho, USDA-ARS 

• Essential Oil of Caryopteris Pink Chablis™: Chemical Composition and Activity Against the Yellow Fever Mosquito - Dr. Gene Blythe, MSU-CREC

 ,,,,,,,,,,, in additional to other topics such as methods to prevent regrowth of crape myrtles after removal, blueberry propagation for home gardeners, hand protection for nursery workers, native plants for landscaping wet areas, Spotted Wing Drosophila and the impact of chromosome doubling on traits of scarlet eggplant.

Source: FCNews Staff,  MSU News release 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Can Roxie Support a Dollar General Store ?

ROXIE -  Is it possible to get a Dollar General Store in downtown Roxie?  Rumors and other information have floated around for some time.  Let's look at the facts and you, the reader, you decide.  Who is going to build the building ?  Who is going to sell the land to the builder or is there a land owner with the land willing to build the building ?  Lots of questions ? 

Dollar General Corporation
Customer Service Department
100 Mission Ridge
Goodlettsville, TN 37072

The following information is posted as to the requirements of store location: 

Store Growth & Real Estate (information from Dollar Store RE Division)

We believe in locating our stores based on customer need and convenience. We currently have more than 11,000 stores throughout our 42 state operating area and we are growing every day. 
Site Criteria
  • Located along retail corridor with good traffic - (this is a question)
  • High visibility - (this is a question)
  • Full ingress and egress
  • Shopping center and freestanding opportunities considered
Market Demographics
  • Median household income – Less than $75,000
  • Trade area population – At least 4,500 - (this is a question - the Roxie zip code, covering 249.1 square miles, is only a population of 3,121 ) 
Build to Suit Program
  • 9,100 sf building
  • 70' x 135' prototype design
  • Customer friendly parking (minimum 30)
  • Building and pylon signage
  • Accessible truck delivery (53' trailer)

The following information extracted from 2010 US Census Report 

MS - Franklin County (including Roxie) 

Total Population8,118
Housing Status
( in housing units unless noted )
Population in owner-occupied
( number of individuals )
Population in renter-occupied
( number of individuals )
Households with individuals under 181,088
Vacant: for rent48
Vacant: for sale33
Population by Sex/Age
Under 182,043
18 & over6,075
20 - 24399
25 - 34940
35 - 491,490
50 - 641,739
65 & over1,315
Population by Ethnicity
Hispanic or Latino47
Non Hispanic or Latino8,071
Population by Race
African American2,791
American Indian and Alaska Native14
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander0
Identified by two or more45
  ..... and broken down for Roxie zip code covering 249.1 square miles. 

Some questions and answers:  (more Q & A click here)

Q. Does Dollar General franchise its stores?

A. No. Dollar General does not franchise its stores.

Q. I have a building that would be great for a DG store—whom do I call?

A. We have field representatives throughout our operating area. Please refer to the Real Estate section for the appropriate field representative in your region.

Q. I want to bid on your new building sites—who handles construction?

A. If you are interested in our build-to-suit or conventional program, please e-mail a request for information to

Q. What are the criteria for a new store?

A. Existing Center: Our preferred site is in a grocery or major retail anchored strip center. We require a minimum of 60' of width, and we need approximately 7,500 square feet of selling area, along with 1,000 to 1,500 square feet for a stockroom. Built to Suit: We also have an aggressive free-standing build-to-suit program for those markets in which we have been unable to locate a suitable site in a strip center. Our free-standing buildings range between 9,000 and 9,500 square feet on approximately 1 to 1-1/4 acres of land.

Q. Who handles store maintenance contracts?

A. Contact our Store Facility Maintenance Department at for more information. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Comprehensive Firefighter Course for Students Available

ROXIE, MS -  A new comprehensive internet course is available to students. 

This course is designed to prepare the participant to be able to perform firefighting functions at an intermediate level meeting minimum nation standards according to National Fire Protection Association 1001. The student will be prepared for the Pro Board Exam which is included.   

Achiever Education & Training a global leader in innovative result-oriented training & consulting services

The student will identify the roles and responsibilities of a firefighter in the fire service. The students will define the basic functions of the fire service. The student will describe the basic types of fire apparatus and tools and their functions. The student will demonstrate competencies in basic firefighting techniques such as search and rescue, ventilation, and ladder basics. The student will identify and describe the correct use of hose lines and fire streams. The students will identify and analyze general safety procedures and the use of personal protective clothing. The student will describe the correct procedures and techniques for the use of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). The student will identify potential hazardous materials incidents. Click here for more information. 

Other available information can be seen at the following sites

Source:  Staff 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Local artists display work at Crosby Arboretum

Msu Ag Communications News

Jul 3 (5 days ago)

For Immediate Release
July 3, 2014
Writer: Susan Collins-Smith
Contact: Pat Drackett, 601-799-2311


PICAYUNE -- Visitors to the Mississippi State University Crosby Arboretum can view the work of area artists in the arboretum’s new art gallery.

Located in the recently remodeled visitor center and gift shop, the gallery opened June 21. It displays artwork that celebrates the natural world, and much of  the art was made on or inspired by the arboretum grounds in Picayune.

“We became increasingly aware that there are many local artists visiting the arboretum who are taking exceptional photographs of the grounds or are using the grounds to inspire their work,” said Pat Drackett, Crosby Arboretum director.

Photographs of nature mandalas made by Mary Murchison of Pearl River County are on display now through Aug. 31. Murchison gathers natural materials, such as flower petals and pinecones, to make the circular patterns that she then photographs.

“We discovered through Facebook that Mary was making some of her mandalas on our grounds,” Drackett said. “Her creations were getting rave reviews on social media, and that’s how we got the idea to display art that was made here or reflected our themes and goals.”

Robin Veerkamp and Janet Schlauderaff will exhibit their work together beginning Sept. 1. Veerkamp, of Picayune, specializes in color pencil and pen and ink drawings of landscapes, plants and animals. Schlauderaff crafts gourds into baskets, bowls, spoons and decorative display items.

Brian Anderson of Purvis will display his nature photographs from Dec. 1 to Feb. 28.

Exhibits are displayed in conjunction with the seasons of the year, and each is open for three months.

Admission to view the art exhibits and explore the arboretum’s 104-acre site is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and military members, and $2 for children under age 12. However, each art exhibit opening event is free to the public.

The arboretum is an educational facility dedicated to preserving, protecting and displaying plants native to the Pearl River Drainage Basin ecosystem. Cultural, scientific and recreational programs are held throughout the year.

For more information about the arboretum and the programs offered, visit http// or follow the arboretum on Facebook.

MSU Medical Program Builds Future Doctors

Msu Ag Communications News

Jul 3 (5 days ago)

Released: July 3, 2014
Contact: Dr. Bonnie Carew, 662-325-1321

By Bonnie Coblentz
MSU Ag Communications

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Some of Mississippi’s future medical professionals demonstrated their dedication by taking college-level classes the summer before their senior year in high school.

The children of Destiny’s Day Care in Louisville, Mississippi, enjoy new classroom equipment in their temporary location on May 16, 2014, after the original site was destroyed by a tornado.

The Rural Medical Scholars program at Mississippi State University is designed to address the state’s shortage of medical professionals. From left are Extension Service rural health program leader Bonnie Carew and three of the high school seniors who participated this year: Jason Carter of Horn Lake, Elizabeth Tedford of Clarksdale and Sabrina Micha of Starkville. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Kat Lawrence)

This year, 23 academically gifted high school students participated in the five-week Rural Medical Scholars program at Mississippi State University. Since the program began in 1998, 317 students have participated, experiencing college life and shadowing doctors and other medical professionals for an on-the-job view of their professional lives.

Bonnie Carew, MSU Extension Service rural health program leader, coordinates the unique and challenging program.

“As a whole, Mississippi lacks an adequate number of medical professionals to serve the needs of the population,” Carew said. “This program was started to encourage the best and brightest of our high school students to consider the field of medicine for a career. We designed this program to give them valuable information to help as they make decisions for their future.”

The program’s primary purpose is to create more physicians for Mississippi. It houses students in residence halls, enrolls them in two college classes and makes them responsible for time management.

This year’s students took freshman biology and sociology. They were in class four hours every morning and had lab four afternoons a week. On Tuesday afternoons, the students shadowed practicing physicians as they met with patients and performed their duties.

“I felt like it would really help me decide if I wanted to be a doctor,” Jason Carter of Horn Lake said of why he chose to participate in the program.

Sabrina Micha of Starkville was considering both engineering and pediatrics as possible careers when she signed up for the program.

“I figured I’d get a firsthand experience of what it would be like in a health-care job,” Micha said. “After getting to shadow a pediatrician, I decided I want to do pediatrics.”

In addition to the classes and the on-the-job experience, scholars also spent a day in Jackson at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. They got to talk to the dean of admissions and speak with current residents at the school.

“The dean told us how to get into medical school,” said Elizabeth Tedford of Clarksdale. “I probably would have failed otherwise if I had tried to apply on my own.”

The Rural Medical Scholars program is operated by the MSU Extension Service. Funding for the program comes primarily from the Extension Service with assistance from the State Office of Rural Health at the Mississippi Department of Health.

On July 7, Rural Medical Scholars will graduate its 15th class of students. Overall, 70 percent of previous classes pursued health-related careers. Since the program began, 34 scholars went to medical school and 24 are practicing physicians. Fourteen of these physicians chose to stay and practice in Mississippi.

Dr. Douglas “Deke” Barron is a former Rural Medical Scholar who is now in family medicine residency at the North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo. The Hernando native credits the program with giving him an early idea of what college life was like and allowing him to see that he really liked medicine as a career.

“I would say Rural Medical Scholars’ exposure to the medical setting via the shadowing experiences and the trip to UMMC were what cemented my decision that I wanted to pursue a career in medicine,” Barron said. “It also showed me that in Mississippi in particular, a career in medicine would be of great use to both myself and the state.”

REPRINT - MSU medical program builds future doctors (07-03-2014)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Nutrition Label Changes Can Help Consumers

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Released: July 1, 2014
Contact: Dr. Brent Fountain662-325-0849; Natasha Haynes601-825-1462

Nutrition label changes can help consumers

MSUcares header

By Susan Collins-Smith
MSU Ag Communications

JACKSON – Proposed changes to the nutrition facts label should make it easier for consumers to make decisions about the food they eat.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is updating the label for the first time since it appeared on packaged foods in 1993. The only major change made to the label in its 20-year history was the required addition of trans fats in 2006.

“The goal is to simplify the label for the consumer,” said Brent Fountain, an associate Extension professor in the Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion at Mississippi State University. “They want to emphasize the information people need the most in relation to current health issues.”

The iconic label design will not change, but some elements of the label will be revamped to reflect the findings of new health and nutrition research.

The most notable proposed changes will modernize serving sizes, amend essential nutrients, include a line for added sugars, and refresh the label’s format. Serving sizes will be increased or decreased for some foods to reflect what people eat in a single sitting. By law, a serving size must reflect what people actually eat, not what they should eat, according to the FDA’s website.

“A lot of foods that are packaged as multiple-serving foods are consumed as a single serving, such as a 20-ounce soft drink,” Fountain said. “With the proposed changes, a 20-ounce soft drink, which currently is labeled as two and half servings, would be labeled as one serving. The number of calories and other nutritional values would increase as a result.”

The FDA recommends that vitamin D and potassium be added to the declared essential nutrients on packaging because some populations do not get enough of them. Vitamin D and potassium are essential for bone and heart health, respectively. Calcium and iron values are also label requirements. Vitamins A and C can be removed from or voluntarily reported on the label, the FDA website said.

Companies also may be required to distinguish between natural sugars and added sugars by stating the amount of added sugar.

“The addition of this information will be quite helpful for those who need to pay attention to carbohydrates,” Fountain said. “Typically, if you look at the fiber and sugar content, anything that has three or more grams of fiber and is low in sugar is a good choice. But some items with naturally occurring sugars, like dried fruits, can be good choices. Identifying naturally occurring sugars from added sugars will afford consumers the opportunity to make the best choices for themselves and their families.”

The label is intended as a guide to help people compare foods and make good choices. The link between nutrition, obesity and chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, prompted many of the changes.

The revised label would make the calorie count font larger and directly associated with the serving size.

“We all have a misconception of serving sizes,” said Natasha Haynes, Extension family and consumer sciences agent in Rankin County. “Overeating is linked to many of the major health issues facing our society.”

Most consumers are concerned primarily with the calorie count and serving size of their foods. But those with particular health issues or concerns will need to look further than the number of calories, Haynes said.

“Health conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease, require people to monitor their intake of carbohydrates, fats and sodium,” she said. “The changes being proposed can help people who are in the grocery aisle trying to make a decision,” she said.

The FDA is requesting other changes be made to the label, including making percentage daily values easier to understand, revising the footnote and modifying daily values for sodium intake.

For more about the FDA’s proposed changes or to comment on the changes, go to the FDA’s website at The comment period closes Aug. 1. After the approved changes are made, new labels will be required within two years.

Source - REPRINT - MSU Ag Communication News

Monday, June 30, 2014

4-H Scholarships Programs Available

ROXIE, MS - Monday, June 30, 2014

The 4-H scholarship program recognizes those 4-H members who have been successful in their 4-H project experiences. All  scholarships are reviewed and the winners are selected based on the specific criteria set in place by donors. Keep in mind that each scholarship offered has its own eligibility criteria. The amount of each scholarship is set according to the current market interest rates. The deadline for all of the 4-H scholarships is April 1 of the current school year.  Prepare for 2015 school year now ! 

To read the complete article and get the names of available scholarships click here >  4-H Scholarships