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MSU insect workshop slated for national TV

October 26, 2012

Mississippi State University Insect Rearing Workshop Coordinator Frank Davis poses with some of his equipment and a book on insect rearing. Davis and the workshop will be featured on the nationally syndicated “America Now” TV show in April. (Photo by Leilani Salter, SDN)

Mississippi State University entomologist Frank Davis and the Insect Rearing Workshop he coordinates are slated to appear on the nationally syndicated newsmagazine show “America Now” on April 2, 2013.

“America Now” producer David Scott Jones confirmed plans to air a repackage of footage from Walt Grayson’s WLBT coverage of the Insect Rearing Workshop for “Look Around Mississippi.” Jones said “America Now” will bring the workshop’s story to 53 stations across the U.S., from Honolulu, Hawaii to Charlotte, N.C.

“The stories we use (are) news you can use; it’s good for a water cooler discussion,” Jones said. “(The Insect Rearing Workshop) is fascinating, and from what Frank told me, it’s the only one of its kind in the world.”

Davis said Grayson is a family friend who has been interested in profiling the Insect Rearing Workshop for some time. When Grayson completed and aired the feature, he nominated it for use on America Now, Davis said.

“Then, I got a call from David Jones,” Davis said. “He told me that they wanted to use (Grayson’s feature) as a foundation and then build from that, so we were asked to send him some information on the insect rearing.”

Jones said “America Now” uses a format similar to Vh1’s “Pop-Up Video” to pepper news stories with extra information.

“That way, we cover it anew,” Jones said.

The 2012 Insect Rearing Workshop set to be featured on “America Now” is the 15th iteration of the workshop over the past 12 years, Davis said. While he plays a leadership role, he said the workshop would not be possible without the large team he works with.

“I’m very fortunate to have the best lecture team in the world to go along with tremendous support from my administrators,” Davis said. “(Also helpful are) some administrative assistants in the department, along with other students who do the driving.”

Davis said the workshop is an opportunity to not only learn about the many applications of insect rearing but also to socialize and have fun, with students, faculty and team members from around the world mingling. Davis said foreign countries represented at the insect rearing workshop include Australia, Canada, Panama, the Netherlands, Belgium and England.

“In fact, there were a slightly higher percentage of people from outside the U.S. here for our workshop than inside the U.S.,” Davis said. “That’s the first time that’s occurred. We (also) probably had more private industry people there than we did from the public industry.”

Jones said he wanted to put the Insect Rearing Workshop on “America Now” not only because of its uniqueness, but also because he shares some of Davis’ fascination with insects.

“Bugs are interesting characters in themselves,” Jones said. “Insects make the world go round. Most foreign cultures treat insects way different than we do. If you go to a market in China (or a Chinese market in America,) they have chocolate-covered ants.”

In fact, Davis said the rearing of insects for human consumption and the processing needed to make them palatable was one of the key topics at this year’s workshop. Davis said he hopes to educate viewers nationwide about this and other topics through “America Now.”

“I think they’ll learn that, first of all, insects of all kinds are being reared, anywhere from beautiful butterflies to cotton and corn pests, along with other pests like mosquitoes,” Davis said. “They are reared for research purposes, (and) they’re being reared for their own protein ... to feed fish and chickens and also human beings.”

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