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Earth Team Turns a Neglected Area of a Fairground into a Native Plant Demonstration Garden

California Earth Team volunteers plant some of the 250 species of native trees and shrubs planned for a 2,000-sq.-foot demonstration garden in Mariposa County. The garden will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and is expected to host thousands of visitors.

California Earth Team volunteers plant some of the 250 species of native trees and shrubs planned for a 2,000-sq.-foot demonstration garden in Mariposa County. The garden will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and is expected to host thousands of visitors.

Earth Team volunteers have helped transform a neglected area at a county fairground into an attraction experts say will help boost tourism and the local economy in Mariposa, Calif.

Earth Team is the name given to USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service volunteers. They work side by side with NRCS employees on conservation projects to improve their local environment. Read more »

Getting Kids off to the Right Start with Water and Milk!

When the First Lady kicked off the Let’s Move! initiative last year, she said that her primary goal is to end childhood obesity. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act gets to the heart of this effort by helping schools, parents, and communities make health and nutrition a priority for kids.  Among the law’s many reforms, schools that participate in the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) school lunch program will have to make drinking water available for free to students in the cafeteria during lunch.  With this change we want to make the healthy choice the easy choice for our kids.

Schools must also offer at least two choices of low fat or fat free milk.  These changes are consistent with what is recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, just updated earlier this year. The Dietary Guidelines are a set of science-based recommendations that include many tips for improving health and wellness. Read more »

Renewable Energy Flex Fuel Options Discussed in Missouri

To “flex” or not, that is a good question.  I own a flexible fuel vehicle and have for several years and as a Government Agency, Rural Development has government owned vehicles that accommodate flexible fuel.  As State Director, I travel throughout Missouri and even though I have the appropriate vehicle and even though there is an adequate supply of renewable fuels, there is an inadequate number of service stations that have flexible fuel pumps.  Compound this with the desire to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and make our nation more environmentally clean, you can imagine my reaction when Rural Development announced a program as part of the solution to address these issues.

There was excitement in Jefferson City, Missouri’s State Capitol, when Judith Canales, Administrator for USDA Rural Development Rural Business-Cooperative Programs kicked off  Rural Development’s  Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) workshop on flex-fuel options.  Canales informed the 45 people in attendance that grants are available to provide fuel station owners with incentives to install flexible fuel pumps that will offer Americans more renewable energy options. Read more »

Deputy Secretary Outlines USDA BioPreferred Program During an Ohio Visit

USDA employees and members of the public in Columbus, Ohio had the chance to hear Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan speak recently at the Columbus Federal Building as part of her one-day tour of the Buckeye state.

Merrigan’s first stop in the morning was at the Hoover plant in Glenwillow where she announced the USDA BioPreferred certifications bestowed on eleven new bio-based product initiatives. The products, which range from hand soaps to engine oils, are composed of agricultural ingredients and are certified to meet the standards for biobased content set by USDA. Read more »

Secretary Vilsack Announces Proposed Colorado Roadless Rule

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today the publication and start of a 90-day comment period for the proposed Colorado Roadless Rule, developed collaboratively to address the needs of Colorado’s unique and precious roadless areas.

This proposed rule, in development since 2005, is the product of extensive public involvement that included more than 200,000 written comments and reflects local and national and concerns. Read more »

Chicago Hosts Kickoff for Minority Health Month

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:

On April 4th I had the opportunity to join Illinois’ Senator Dick Durbin, the President and First Lady’s personal trainer and member of President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Cornell McClellan and staff from USDA, the Department of Health and Human Services, Chicago Public Schools and Healthy Schools Campaign to kick off Minority Health Month.

Since schools offer an opportunity—and obligation—to promote and model good nutrition and physical fitness, Chicago’s McAuliffe Elementary was selected as the setting for the event. Read more »