MSU among Folklife Festival land-grants

Mississippi State University's celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act, which led to the founding of land-grant universities, will include participation in the June 27-July 8 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C.

The Smithsonian Institution's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage produces the festival annually on the National Mall. The nearly two-week long event is an interactive educational presentation celebrating contemporary cultural traditions. Each year, since the festival began in 1967, exhibits center around selected programs or themes.

This year, Mississippi State is among 17 land-grant universities from around the nation represented as part of the Folklife Festival's theme of Campus and Community, honoring the historic Morrill Act.

A website,, offers centralized information about the land-grant celebration and previews Mississippi State's festival exhibitions.

Like Smithsonian museums, the festival is free to the public. Typically, more than one million visitors attend each year.

"We are very enthusiastic about the opportunity to showcase Mississippi State as part of this national platform to demonstrate how land-grant universities are leading the way in research, technology and innovation," said MSU President Mark E. Keenum.

"We invite any MSU alumni and friends in the D.C. area to join us. This truly is a celebration of our land-grant heritage, and we want the entire Bulldog family to take part in some way this year," he said. Keenum noted that the university also is planning on-campus events in commemoration of the Morrill Act, including an October conference.

During the festival, the university will highlight three programs to illustrate technologies, contributions, and service of today's land-grant. MSU's Bagley College of Engineering, College of Veterinary Medicine, as well as the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, with collaboration from the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, are participating.

MSU's EcoCAR will be on exhibit as part of the festival's Sustainable Solutions area. In the festival's Reinventing Agriculture area, a thermal imaging exhibit will demonstrate how this technology, also called thermography, captures images that visualize temperature gradients or radiation in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum. The College of Veterinary Medicine also will bring the Mobile Veterinary Clinic to demonstrate an ambitious approach to providing spay and neuter services to animal shelters in the rural state.

"By highlighting the accomplishments of land-grant universities from around the nation, this event will convey to many Americans and international visitors how valuable the contributions of these institutions have been since the beginning," said Peter Ryan, associate provost, who is coordinating MSU's Folklife Festival preparations.

"Mississippi State University and many of our sister institutions are truly paving the way for the future through research. The innovation and technology that continue to emerge from the work of land-grant universities are among our greatest national assets," Ryan added.

The EcoCAR epitomizes the university's growing tradition of sustainable energy research. The project's most recent model is a re-engineered Cross-over vehicle that earns more than 118 mpg and has a 60-mile, all-electric driving range. MSU students created EcoCAR as part of the ongoing series of Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions sponsored by the Department of Energy, in which competitively selected university teams re-engineer a designated automobile to improve its fuel economy and reduce emissions while maintaining performance, safety and consumer appeal. Visitors can expect hands-on activities that explore sustainability issues, such as energy consumption, transportation choices and potential alternative energy solutions.

Thermography utilizes specialized cameras to capture temperature gradients and produce images showing the temperature variations. The non-invasive technology has played an important role in diagnosing a wide range of disease-, developmental-, and injury-related conditions in humans, plants, livestock, and other species. It has also been used in environmental studies of wetland areas, wild bird studies, and the assessment of training in athletic performance. The Folklife Festival display will allow an interactive opportunity to explore the technology.

The Mobile Veterinary Clinic will teach festival attendees how they can be a part of improving the health and well-being of pets. The display will help visitors learn more about animal shelter medicine, and current veterinary students will be on hand to talk about pet overpopulation issues and how the veterinary community is addressing the problem. Plans for hands-on children's activities also are under way.

For more about the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, visit

Allison Matthews | University Relations

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