One more weekend to take advantage of the 2013 Fall Agritourism Season!

Join the fun! Find local agritourism operations registered with the Mississippi Agritourism Association by clicking on the pumpkins here or using the list format.  Search your county for operations using the Mississippi Development Authority website:

Agritourism is the fastest growing sector in the tourism industry and is making a positive impact on rural economies in Mississippi. Demand for agritourism arises from urbanites looking for ways to experience the outdoors and learn about farming and the food supply. Agritourism is a popular way for families to connect to history and place and spend quality time together away from electronic devices. Supply of agritourism arises from agricultural producers adapting to changing economic realities.  Many find that devoting a small portion of acreage to agritourism efforts is a relatively profitable way to use their land.

In 2007 the US had 23,350 farms offering agritourism and outdoor activities which provided $566 million in annual revenues for farms. Between the 2002 and 2007 Census of Agriculture, income from agritourism increased 128 percent in Mississippi. In 2007, the average income per farm from agritourism was $16,000. It is estimated that current trends will increase, and, if so, the average agritourism income per farm in Mississippi will rise to $43,000 in 2013. The agritourism industry in Mississippi has a handful of large operations which boast between 30,000 and 90,000 visitors each year. However, most of the operations are much smaller and are in the start-up phase.

A two-year Limited Liability Law (LLL) passed in the Mississippi Legislature in 2012 and is expected to be codified in 2014. Many operations are expected to open due to passage of LLL which protects operators from any liability, provided there was no negligence on the part of the owner. In order to be covered, operators MUST be registered yearly:

Contact Becky Smith ( for more information.

Extension Service Reports Serve as “Informational Text” for Teachers

Teachers and administrators throughout the US are learning how to implement the latest innovation in education. The aim of the voluntary Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is to increase the competitiveness of the U.S. in the global marketplace by requiring students to practice the higher ordered thinking skills necessary in the 21st century. Its goal is to produce nation-wide academic benchmarks for students. Forty-five US states have signed up to adopt this voluntary program.

The CCSS is not a federal program, but is an effort of the National Governor’s Association Center for Best Practices, the Council of Chief State School Officers, private businesses, parents and students. The CCSS includes the use of “Informational Text” competencies, which returns non-fiction text to the center stage in the language curriculum. Written to inform a general audience, Extension Service resources ( provide the perfect source of informational text needed by today’s teachers.

Internationally benchmarked and based on research and evidence, the CCSS are aligned with college and career expectations and are more rigorous than outgoing standards. The new language standards focus on much more than just reading comprehension; they emphasize “close” reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The new math standards focus on precise thinking, data-driven decision making, and interpreting and analyzing data within charts. The new standards emphasize the skills needed to succeed in today’s dynamic economy: global awareness; economics, personal finance, and entrepreneurship; literacy in civics, health, and the environment; innovation skills of critical thinking and problem solving; technology skills of information, media, and technology literacy; and life skills of flexibility, adaptability, initiative, self-direction, diversity and tolerance, productivity and accountability, leadership and responsibility.

Anyone familiar with the vast resources Extension offers will immediately see how Extension Service materials are a natural source of informational text. Extension materials are written to the general citizenry, making them accessible to teachers and proficient readers at young ages. Additionally, Extension Service materials explain local phenomenon that naturally interest students. Even a quick look at produces a plethora of material that teachers can use to meet language, math, science, and social studies standards. Currently, the Mississippi State University Extension Center for Economic Education and Financial Literacy and the Office of Agricultural Communications are working together to identify excellent sources of informational text, making it easier for teachers to quickly find and implement Extension publications in the classroom. Contact Dr. Smith at for further information and look for future posts with specific details.