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3/7/2018 - Jackson, Miss.

Mississippi is ready for her close-up. The state has served as a set location for numerous film productions and has an incentive program and office designed to attract even more. In addition to attracting the film industry, Mississippi is ready to invite visitors from across the country and around the world to see the state close up.

From special Southern fare to beautiful landscapes and historic sites, the state has something to attract a wide variety of individuals with a wide variety of interests. Mississippi Public Universities enhance film and tourism opportunities for the state.

The Mississippi State University Extension Service recently held a workshop to help Mississippians from a wide variety of backgrounds to consider new ways to use landscapes and gardens to bring more profit and better value to agricultural enterprises and historic homes.

Sandy Havard, Warren County agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, coordinated the Know Your Roots: Build Your Business daylong workshop. The event had four primary speakers, nine exhibits by Warren County Master Gardeners and a tour of the Heritage Demonstration Garden at the Vicksburg National Military Park. The Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau was a generous sponsor of the short course and hosted events for conference participants.

Participants included Master Gardeners, agritourism business owners, mayors of two small towns, and bed and breakfast owners from Vicksburg, Natchez, Rolling Fork and beyond. The workshop exposed participants to a wide range of ways to add interest and value to agritourism enterprises. Master Gardener stations displayed container gardening, orchid growing, composting, glass etching, miniature succulent gardens and more. Participants were encouraged to interact with each station and learn ways to add beauty or new activities for visitors at their enterprises.

Jim DelPrince, MSU Extension assistant professor of horticulture at the MSU Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi, gave a floral design lesson to help participants learn how to turn their green thumbs into additional income through floral design. He demonstrated basics of floral design while encouraging participants to use the best products available, find better ways to market events beyond local venues, and consider all sources of flowers and greenery.

Gary Bachman, Extension horticulturist and host of Southern Gardening, urged owners of historic homes and agritourism enterprise to use pockets of color to beautify existing locations. Brent Fountain, MSU Extension nutritionist, discussed a variety of ways to eat locally, whether growing your own or buying produce that is grown nearby. Natasha Haynes, Rankin County Extension agent and host of The Food Factor, addressed ways to put a twist on existing foods to make them exciting and better tasting.

Rachel Carter, MSU Extension community planning specialist, explained the economics of running tourism businesses from historic homes. She gave participants formulas they could use to determine appropriate price points for goods and services they offer at their agritourism enterprises. At the Heritage Demonstration Garden, visitors browsed a garden that combined vegetables, herbs and flowers in a way that paid homage to gardens of the antebellum era while remaining fresh and modern.

The University of Southern Mississippi offers an Entertainment Industry major focusing on dynamic and creative endeavors in distinctive areas of the arts, including sound, video and film production. Each emphasis area in the Entertainment Industry major offers unique and in-depth insights into either sound, video or film production, all of which lead to careers in popular mass media entertainment.

The Recording Industry Management emphasis prepares students for a wide range of behind-the-scenes careers in the music and entertainment industries, while the Recording Industry Production emphasis is centered on in-studio audio recording and editing skills that prepare students for careers in live sound, audio for video, radio production and audio recording.

The Media Production emphasis offers opportunities that span across radio, television and film, teaching pre- and post-production work.

The Film emphasis introduces students to the study of motion picture production as a vibrant contemporary art form, dynamic international commercial industry and important cultural medium.

Entertainment Industry majors enjoy highly technical coursework that involves hands-on learning and creating. Each emphasis requires students to be involved in the actual work they will do after graduation to gain experience and develop a professional portfolio.

Recording Industry students have the opportunity to work with the WUSM Tailgate Concert Series and work at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, among other high-impact experiences. Film students complete at least two short films and write at least one feature-length screenplay during their program, and Media Production students aid in the production of weekly programs.

While some students are learning how to work behind the scenes, Jackson State University theater professor Yohance Myles shares his experiences being in front of the camera with his students. Myles is also a professional actor who has played many characters, including an impactful role as a father whose son witnesses the fatal shooting of an unarmed white college student by an African-American police officer in Fox's "Shots Fired." Having a professor with these experiences gives Jackson State students a rare behind-the-scenes view of film production.

Several programs at the University of Mississippi's Center for the Study of Southern Culture help document and publicize areas of cultural interest and encourage tourism in the state. The Southern Foodways Alliance is dedicated to the documentation and celebration of the food cultures of the American South. Among its efforts is the Mississippi Delta Hot Tamale Trail, an online guide that takes visitors from Tunica to Vicksburg through photos and oral histories of tamale-making families. The center publishes Living Blues magazine and sponsors the Blues Today Symposium each spring on the Ole Miss campus. This summer, the center also celebrated publication of the first-ever Mississippi Encyclopedia.

Video on The University of Southern Mississippi's film program:

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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