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Healthy Garden Workshop focuses on pollinators

Visitors check out the bee hive at the Healthy Garden Workshop

This summer, we’ve had the privilege to hear from all sorts of experts in the Peoples’ Garden at USDA, as part of the Healthy Garden Workshops series. We’ve learned about gardening various delicious vegetables, controlling pests, and preparing garden-grown foods. This afternoon, visitors to the USDA tents on the National Mall were treated to a really interesting presentation on pollination. Read more »

Vilsack exits Nairobi city limits to visit agriculture, education institutions

Secretary Vilsack speaking for the children and staff of Stara Rescue Center School outside Kibera.

Secretary Vilsack speaks for the children and staff of Stara Rescue Center School outside Kibera.

Chris Mather, USDA Director of Communications, traveled with Secretary Vilsack to Kenya for the AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act) Summit. Today she shares her thoughts on segments of the trip when they traveled beyond the city limits of Nairobi for educational events.

Last week, Secretary Vilsack traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, as a participant in the 2009 African Growth and Opportunity Act Summit. Amid bilateral talks and attending the opening meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and United States Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk, the Secretary had an opportunity to travel to the countryside to learn more about the agriculture industry in Kenya and see firsthand some of the efforts USDA has been supporting. Read more »

USDA employees volunteer for healthier communities

The Obama administration has called on Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life to work to improve their communities as part of the United We Serve project. Here at USDA, many of our more than 100,000 employees are doing their part. They are driven to serve, and proud to identify ways to use their skills to support their own communities.

Here’s some work two USDA employees are doing to improve the health of their communities:

One of the children served by Mike and his family rides a horse in Virginia

Horseback riding for people with special needs — Mike (Annandale, VA)

Mike and his family have long been involved with the equestrian sport of vaulting (gymnastics on horseback). Over the past year they have hosted a regular outing for special needs children and adults from their church, giving each an opportunity to ride a horse and to learn the freedom of movement and confidence the experience brings. Nothing can compare with the sheer pleasure of seeing these individuals, often initially nervous and scared, beaming as they ride triumphantly…and often for the first time in their lives. Perhaps the most meaningful experience was last October when, during local pony rides Mike was helping with, he saw a mother with an infant whose many tubes and blank stare evidenced the severity of his condition. He asked the mother if her baby wanted a chance to ride and he was soon up on a horse in the secure arms of an experienced rider. After a 5-minute ride his mother thanked Mike and later told him that her baby was normally mostly uncommunicative, but that after riding he seemed to be alert and aware for days!

The Relay for Life Fundraiser in Steele, North Dakota, coordinated by a local USDA employee

Raising money for a cure — Nancy (Steele, ND)

Nancy coordinated the local USDA Service Center’s team for the American Cancer Society’s “Relay for Life” fundraiser in Steele, North Dakota. They named their group “Team USDA” and over a few short months raised over $4000. “Team USDA” was the top fundraising team from within the 23 teams that participated. Some of the ways they raised funds were by serving dinners for local events, selling sweets and treats, and family and friends making donations. The 23 teams for this event raised over $40,000. It was a great success and they plan to participate again next year.

Happy 65th Birthday, Smokey Bear!

This week, the U.S. Forest Service celebrates the 65th birthday of one of its most prolific workers — Smokey Bear. This afternoon in the Whitten Federal Building, area children and the public joined the agency for Smokey’s official birthday celebration, where Forest Service officials had nothing but praise for his work. Read more »

Peoples’ Garden Workshop focuses on healthy eating

What a beautiful, sunny, not-too-hot day in D.C.!

It was perfect for today’s Peoples’ Garden workshop, which focused broadly on the many ways you can make your garden work for you — by planting different vegetables, and knowing how they’re bets prepared. Volunteer staff presented tips on utilizing garden vegetables such as squash, greens, and peppers, and gave basic advice on preparation. Read more »

USDA Summer Intern Reflects on Experience

Amy Sents spent the summer as an intern in the White House Liaison Office at USDA; she is currently a junior at Kansas State University.

When mapping out my plans for this summer, Washington D.C. was about the furthest from my mind, that is until I read an e-mail in early May from one of the assistant deans at my school. I had just completed a preliminary application process for a scholarship and was told by the committee that I needed a strong government experience in order to remain competitive. Less than a week later I received the e-mail announcing summer internships with USDA in Washington, D.C. With my ag background and interest in future employment with the department, this was the perfect opportunity. About three weeks later I interviewed with the White House Liaison Office, unaware until that point that such an office even existed in USDA. Read more »