MSU Extension: Ag officials in town this week

Published 12:24 am Monday, August 20, 2012

NATCHEZ — A group of men and women will descend on Natchez Tuesday evening, each keeping one eye on the Natchez Convention Center and the other eye on the area’s flowers. Or cattle. Or lakes. Or trees.

Natchez will play host to the Mississippi State University Extension Service’s agents statewide convention from Tuesday evening through Friday afternoon, and Adams County Extension Service Director David Carter said the area is uniquely suited to host such an event.

Whereas in some parts of the state the extension service focuses more on one aspect of plant or animal production than others, Adams County can provide access to something of interest for all the agents within a 45-minute drive, Carter said.

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“We can come to Natchez and pretty much show them everything they want to see in one place, be that farming areas, wildlife, agriculture, plants, agronomy or aquaculture — we can show them all that right here in town.”

This will be the third extension service-related convention in Natchez, following the Southwestern Mississippi-area agents’ convention and the national Master Gardeners convention.

“When you look at the state, Natchez is second probably only to the main (MSU) campus in hosting (extension service) conventions,” Carter said.

The agents will have a golf tournament at Duncan Park Wednesday morning and have their general assembly that night, but following that will have a team roping program at the Double C Ranch south of town.

Thursday morning agents will have the option of attending in-service training sessions at Giles Island for wildlife management, animal science training at Hunt Hill Cattle Company near Woodville or horticulture training in Natchez, which will include viewing how the gardens are managed at Monmouth and Melrose. Both Giles Island and Hunt Hill were chosen for their phenomenal and even cutting-edge management, Carter said.

Thursday afternoon’s sessions will include tours at St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge, where participants will learn about water systems and waterfowl management. Others will visit Pinelog Plantation to study the management of enclosed exotic wildlife.

Alcorn State University’s extension service experiment station will also play host to an agronomy in-service training session Thursday.

Friday’s sessions will travel to Church Hill for hog management tours, Lake Okhissa for aquaculture education, the Homochitto National Forest and J.M. Jones Lumber Company for forestry-focused sessions.

“We’re going to go down and how they train hog dogs and how they train cattle dogs, and look at using dogs to simplify some of our needs and problems,” Carter said.

“And we will be looking at the Homochitto forest and the pine beetle problems there.”

After the convention closes Friday, Carter said he would take the agents who remain to the United Way jambalaya cook-off.

“People love to come here,” he said. “We are isolated in the southwest corner, but we get to do this and get more people to come than some of the (conventions) that are attended in Starkville.”