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Colorado Students Celebrate the International Year of Forests by Planting Trees

Students from Rockrimmon Elementry School dance with Forest Supervisor during Kids4Trees event on Pike National Forest

Students from Rockrimmon Elementry School dance with Forest Supervisor during Kids4Trees event on Pike National Forest

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:

More than 1,200 students, teachers and Scouts recently planted 4,500 trees at the Monument Fire Center on the Pike National Forest in Celebration of the International Year of Forests and as part of an ongoing restoration project in the area. The event brought elementary school students from Rockrimmon and Discovery Canyon Campus schools in Colorado Springs, Colo., to learn about forests, the role of fire in the ecosystem and how forests protect water. Another 1,500 trees were planted by Boy and Girl Scouts from the area. Read more »

A “Greener” Earth Begins With You and Me

Local leaders are keeping the spirit of Earth Day alive and well in rural South Dakota.  On Monday April 18, 2011, USDA, Rural Development Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager announced 51 water and waste disposal and two Community Facilities projects funded as part of Earth Day 2011.  I had the privilege of spending several days in South Dakota during that week to celebrate Earth Day and highlight the efforts of rural communities who are improving the quality of life for their residents and working towards efforts to protect the environment for future generations.

In the City of Sturgis, 105 second and fifth graders celebrated Earth Day alongside local leaders outside of the Sturgis Elementary School.  The City highlighted upcoming improvements to their water system, made possible through a loan and grant from USDA Rural Development.  Students, USDA officials and the mayor shared their thoughts on why taking care of the community and the environment is an important activity for everyone at every age. Read more »

The Recovery Act Strengthened Food Security for Low-Income Families

Young mother with baby selects items in produce aisle of grocery store.

Young mother with baby selects items in produce aisle of grocery store.

Much of my work as a sociologist at the Economic Research Service (ERS) involves research on the food security of U.S. households – their ability to consistently obtain adequate food. My colleagues and I were naturally concerned about how the economic downturn that began in late 2007 would affect the food security of economically vulnerable households. It was no surprise that from 2007 to the end of 2008, households’ food insecurity increased in tandem with rising unemployment. Read more »

Organic Farm Provides a Model for New Mexico

Wildlife habitat improvements on the Rio Grande Community Farm.

Wildlife habitat improvements on the Rio Grande Community Farm.

Minor Morgan has promoted organic farming for decades. And since the early 1990s, Morgan, executive director of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Community Farm, has been working with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop a farming process that is economically and environmentally sustainable. Through its innovative use of well and surface water to support a certified organic drip irrigation system year-round, the Rio Grande Community Farm stands alone in the state as a model for sustainable farming. Read more »

USDA Statistician Named 2010 Ag Person of the Year

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Proving that agriculture does indeed count, Director of the Statistics Division at USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Joe Prusacki, was selected as ProFarmer’s 2010 Ag Person of the Year.

This award is a great honor for Prusacki and is shared by all of USDA as it exemplifies the department’s continued commitment to actively listen and be responsive to the needs of its stakeholders.  Previous notable recipients include Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns , a former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Read more »

Deputy Agriculture Secretary Tours Cutting-Edge Renewable Energy Facility in Michigan

Last week, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan visited the campus of Michigan State University to participate in a tour of the cellulosic ethanol pretreatment lab at MBI International and conduct a roundtable discussion with key stakeholders in Michigan’s biofuels community.

MBI is owned by the Michigan State University Foundation and its purpose is to “de-risk” emerging technologies, making them more viable for commercial application.  One of MBI’s current projects is developing ways to scale cellulosic ethanol from the laboratory to the marketplace. Read more »