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Outdoor Recreation is an Essential Part of American Culture

The Veterans Day fee waiver provides the perfect opportunity to take in the last of the fall colors for 2010, like this scenic view on the Wayne NF's Ironton Ranger District in southeast Ohio. (US Forest Service photo by Phil Sammon)

The Veterans Day fee waiver provides the perfect opportunity to take in the last of the fall colors for 2010, like this scenic view on the Wayne NF's Ironton Ranger District in southeast Ohio. (US Forest Service photo by Phil Sammon)

Upcoming Veterans Day, November 11, marks the fourth time this year that the U.S. Forest Service is offering national fee waivers on recreation sites it manages. The choice of this date has been made to honors the country’s veterans, members of the armed services, and their families. Read more »

Kentucky FarmStart Program Bringing Fresh Faces to Agriculture

When Denise Hamilton and her husband retire from their careers as teachers at West Jessamine County High School in Nicholasville, Kentucky, they plan to move to their new farm in Garrard County and supplement their retirement income by growing pasture-raised beef and organic vegetables.

“We just want to get back to the land, because that’s just who we are,” Hamilton said. “Back to who we are and also feel good about what we’re doing.”

The Hamiltons quickly realized they faced many challenges as beginning farmers. New farmers face unique challenges, including the rising cost of farmland and a lack of knowledge about how to get farmland, implement sustainable farming practices, and access operating capital to get started. Read more »

A New Assignment Near Jalalabad

Members of the Missouri ADT survey the Kabul River with USDA’s Tom Vermeersch.

Members of the Missouri ADT survey the Kabul River with USDA’s Tom Vermeersch.

Forward Operating Base Finley-Shields, Nangarhar, Afghanistan – My new assignment is in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province near Jalalabad, the second largest population center in Afghanistan, along the volatile Afghanistan-Pakistan border. In August, I left Camp Blessing in Kunar province, just north of Jalalabad, to assist here. My new home is Forward Operating Base Finley-Shields in Nangarhar, also home to the Nangarhar provincial reconstruction team (PRT) and Behsud District Support Team. Part of the base is an old Soviet motel built several decades, in which I share a room with an Army medic, a great guy whom I’ve taught a few songs on the guitar. A total of nine civilians from three agencies work here (State, U.S. Agency for International Development, and USDA). In addition, the Missouri Agribusiness Development Team (ADT) of the U.S. Army National Guard also calls Finley-Shields home. In the past eight weeks, I’ve enjoyed being part of this larger team. The ADT allows us civilians to get off base more and interact directly with Afghan farmers and extension agents. I also noticed how this focused, comprehensive U.S. effort here in Nangarhar is instilling greater confidence in the Afghan people. Read more »

The USDA Food Safety Discovery Zone Spreads Food Safety Education to Students and Health Enthusiasts in Washington, D.C.

As the nation’s capitol geared up for Halloween and midterm elections, the USDA Food Safety Discovery Zone (FSDZ) was equally busy at the end of October spreading its Be Food Safe messages to Washington, D.C. residents and tourists. In just one week, the FSDZ hosted a Food Safety Education Camp on Gallaudet University’s campus for students from Kendall Demonstration Elementary School and Maryland School for the Deaf, followed by an exhibit at the 2010 Marine Corps Marathon Health and Fitness Expo by GE, where over 100,000 health-conscious participants were ready to learn illness prevention measures. Read more »

USDA Rural Development Financing Provides Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s Government Center and Health Clinic, Creating or Saving Over 300 Jobs

November is National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month and a fitting time to highlight USDA Rural Development’s recent projects on tribal lands. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Mashpee, Massachusetts, are the direct ancestors of those who helped the Pilgrims on their arrival to New England over 400 years ago. Thanks to recent financing from USDA Rural Development (USDA RD), a means to preserve their culture and conduct tribal operations will soon improve dramatically. Read more »