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National Fire Plan Funds Support Maine’s Defensible Space Chipping Program

Two-thirds of Maine’s population or about 780,000 residents live in the “wildland-urban interface.”  In these areas structures intermingle with natural vegetation, and wildfire threatens lives, homes, and property.

The Maine Forest Service’s Division of Forest Protection established a Wildland-Urban Interface Committee in 2004 to facilitate completion of Community Wildfire Protections Plans in these areas. More than 4,500 homes were assessed to determine their risk factors. Of the homes surveyed, 88 percent were at “extreme” or “high” risk of ignition in a wildfire because of fuels buildup. Read more »

South Dakota Transformers

No, no, the subject doesn’t have any connection to two children’s movies titled “Transformers” or “Toy Story”.  It does, however, pertain to an engaging session that was held among South Dakota staff to broaden their understanding of cultural transformation.

The sessions were led by two dynamic facilitators, Joanna Donahue and Vickie Oldman-John who assisted staff with gaining a better understanding of cultural transformation.  Read more »

In the Lab, Dr. Beverly Schmitt Makes it Happen

I’m Dr. Beverly Schmitt.  I work for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa, where I’m the Director of the Diagnostic Virology Lab (DVL).  I’ve been with NVSL for 19 years.  Before I came to APHIS, I served as the virology lab manager at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Veterinary Diagnostic Center.

Becoming a veterinarian was a gradual process for me.  When I was growing up, there was a vet who routinely came to our family farm.  I respected the work he did and liked working with animals, so I eventually looked into becoming a veterinary technician, and then made the decision to try to get into veterinary school. Read more »

The Link Between Rural and Urban Americans

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to speak before a group of city and town planners at a forum hosted by the American Planning Association.  Before I spoke I asked the crowd to raise their hands if they had worked in a community of less than 50,000 population.  To my surprise, three-quarters of audience raised a hand.

When I then asked for people to keep their hands raised if they worked in communities under 20,000, and close to half the hands were still up.

It was another reminder that people who live and work in rural communities are highly engaged—enough so to attend a conference here in Washington D.C.—and intent on exploring solutions for small towns and rural areas. Read more »