Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

First Forest Service Volunteer Receives Recognition

Gloria Owen being honored by Regional Forester Leslie Weldon at the Lolo National Forest’s new pollinator garden at Fort Missoula.  (Photo Credit: Joni Packard, US Forest Service)

Gloria Owen being honored by Regional Forester Leslie Weldon at the Lolo National Forest’s new pollinator garden at Fort Missoula. (Photo Credit: Joni Packard, US Forest Service)

It is quite a phenomenon to be the first of anything and to be recognized for it.  It is especially noteworthy when you have a passion for the land, and are willing to work and care for it as a volunteer.  That’s what Gloria Owen did as the first official volunteer in the U.S. Forest Service’s history.  Owen was recently honored for providing her time and talent in the Northern Region working as a volunteer camp cook, camp tender and crew member on the “Mary Mary” trail on the Moose Creek Ranger District, Nez Perce National Forest in Idaho.  She was presented with an embroidered Pendleton blanket and certificate recognizing her role and service by Regional Forester Leslie Weldon. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Honoring our Veterans

We are approaching Veterans Day, a time to honor the men and women who have served this nation in uniform.  Whether they are soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen or coastguardsmen – our veterans were part of the finest military the world has ever known.  Their selfless and courageous contributions over generations have helped Americans enjoy the freedom and liberty our founders imagined.

And USDA – through our work in rural America and on a host of other issues – has a strong connection with those who have served.  Today, about 6.1 million veterans live in rural communities, a higher concentration than anywhere else in the country. Read more »

The Future of Farming in America: An FFA Perspective

National FFA President Riley Pagett (left) and National FFA Vice President Shannon Norris (right)  present Secretary Vilsack with the Honorary American FFA Degree. This is the highest honor that the National FFA can bestow to supporters of Agricultural Education and FFA.  Photo courtesy FFA.

National FFA President Riley Pagett (left) and National FFA Vice President Shannon Norris (right) present Secretary Vilsack with the Honorary American FFA Degree. This is the highest honor that the National FFA can bestow to supporters of Agricultural Education and FFA. Photo courtesy FFA.

On Oct. 22, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke to the 84th National FFA Convention about the critical need to recruit and support the nation’s next generation of farmers and ranchers. In June, I had a chance to sit down with Landan Schaffert, National FFA Secretary, to talk about what the future holds for him in farming. Read more »

Ground-breaking Partnership Brings Celebrity Recipe to Chicago Student Lunches

Savory chicken, sweet and spicy baked beans, and glazed carrots were part of the new recipe served to students in Chicago schools.

Savory chicken, sweet and spicy baked beans, and glazed carrots were part of the new recipe served to students in Chicago schools.

One of USDA’s most important missions is providing healthy meals to school lunch programs across the country.  In a unique partnership, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) agencies teamed up with Rachael Ray’s Yum-o! non-profit organization, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system and Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality to create and serve a new healthy, tasty and exciting school lunch recipe.

To do this, Bob Bloomer of Chartwells-Thompson, the provider of meals in most of Chicago’s schools, worked with the Agricultural Marketing Service to acquire fresh, unprocessed chicken. After issuing a solicitation and competitive bids from domestic suppliers, the Agricultural Marketing Service awarded the first contract for two truckloads—that’s 80,000 pounds —of raw chicken leg quarters for shipment to Chicago’s schools.

Read more »

Carbon Study Conducted on US Forest Service Land Reveals Unexpected Results

A picture of one the U.S. Forest Service's 89 experimental forests. (Photo courtesy of the US Forest Service)

A picture of one the U.S. Forest Service's 89 experimental forests. (Photo courtesy of the US Forest Service)

A 12-year study on the U.S. Forest Service’s Harshaw Experimental Forest near Rhinelander, WI is challenging long-held assumptions about how future forests will respond to the rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Read more »

APHIS Veterinarian Dr. Larry Ludemann Shares His Experiences Overseas

Hello, I’m Dr. Larry Ludemann and I’m a Senior Staff Veterinarian for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB).  It’s our job to make sure veterinary biologics, including vaccines, are safe, pure, potent and effective.

My duties include reviewing and licensing veterinary vaccines.   Manufacturers looking for approval on a vaccine are required to submit supporting data and reports about the vaccine for analysis.  I am responsible for writing a response to this submitted information.  Before taking my current position, I also spent 13 years in the CVB testing lab. Read more »