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Faces of the Forest Celebrates Iris Estes

A few years ago, Iris Estes’ shyness served her well. After all, it didn’t matter to her because she didn’t have to give speeches or talk to groups.

Then Estes landed a job on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Central Arizona as a customer relations specialist. That was the easy part. Her new boss split her duties, adding conservation education coordinator as part of her work. That meant developing and gaining support for the forest’s first formal conservation education program, especially programs for children. Read more »

Farm-Based and Wind Energy Powers an Entire County in Wisconsin

USDA funding of biodigester technology, coupled with nearby wind turbines, produce enough renewable energy to power an entire Wisconsin county.

USDA funding of biodigester technology, coupled with nearby wind turbines, produce enough renewable energy to power an entire Wisconsin county.

The escalation in prices for energy from fossil fuel has set the stage for the domestic production of renewable energy as a national priority. Not only can the production of renewable energy reduce fossil fuel dependence, but it has the potential to create quality American jobs, combat global warming, and lay a strong foundation for a robust rural economy. This point was not only emphasized in President Obama’s State of the Union address in January, but again upon the President’s recent visit to two Manitowoc, Wisconsin, businesses; showcasing them as leaders in solar power and energy-efficient technology. Read more »

Tours Demonstrate USDA Rural Development’s Commitment to Winning the Future

Rural Development (RD) programs are making a positive difference in rural Florida. And, I have proof! I recently returned from a two-day tour of USDA projects with Undersecretary Dallas Tonsager and Rural Utilities Service Administrator Jonathan Adelstein where we witnessed firsthand how RD’s investment in rural Florida is paying off by providing economic and educational opportunities in Polk County where unemployment has reached almost 13 percent. Read more »

Big Sky – Big Opportunities

This morning I had the opportunity to start my day in Big Sky Country where I was invited by Senator Jon Tester to participate in the Small Business Opportunity Workshop hosted at Montana State University.

We have a full house here having reached capacity at 150 attendees with another 80 RSVPs still arriving.  Clearly the word is out on our workshop and the farmers and ranchers of Montana are eager to hear about job creation and economic development opportunities here in the state. Read more »

Delaware Kid Chefs Learn Prepare Tasty, Nutritious, and Budget-Friendly Meals

Tanyah Ramos and Caylie Bain scramble eggs in the first step of a healthy fried rice recipe they are learning through the KID CHEF program sponsored by the Food Bank of Delaware.

Tanyah Ramos and Caylie Bain scramble eggs in the first step of a healthy fried rice recipe they are learning through the KID CHEF program sponsored by the Food Bank of Delaware.

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:

About a year ago Beverly Jackey, the community nutritionist for the Food Bank of Delaware, came up with a unique way of teaching kids to eat healthy.  Jackey believed that children are more willing to try nutritious new foods when they are involved in preparing them.  So Jackey and the Food Bank created a program called KID CHEF, which stands for Cooking Healthy Easy Food. Read more »

Harnessing Forest Service Programs to Support Local and Regional Food Systems

When people think about USDA they usually think of the Farm Service Agency loan officer helping a farmer finance a new tractor, the Extension agent explaining the latest research to a rancher, or the Rural Development employee bringing broadband to a rural community.  But few would realize our largest agency is not directly responsible for our farms, but rather our forests.

The Forest Service manages 193 million acres of forests and range lands, and helps States, Tribes, and communities manage an additional 500 million acres – together about 30% of the United States!  Through its work in managing and protecting these lands the Forest Service also plays a critical, even if often overlooked, role in local and regional food systems. Read more »