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Keeping Wilderness Wild

When the first Europeans settled in what is now the United States, they found a continent of extensive wildlands. In less than 500 years, the undeveloped nature of these wildlands has been reduced significantly. As they became increasingly scarce and a fledgling conservation movement lost natural treasures like Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley to development, Americans began to appreciate their value.

View of the Sawtooth Range in Idaho. U.S. Forest Service photo.

View of the Sawtooth Range in Idaho. U.S. Forest Service photo.

With passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964, a new course in history was chartered — to preserve some of the country’s last remaining wild places and protect their natural processes and values from development. Read more »

A Catholic School in Harlem Turns MyPlate into a School Musical

Elementary students at Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary turn healthy eating lessons into a school musical about MyPlate

Elementary students at Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary turn healthy eating lessons into a school musical about MyPlate

In the heart of New York City, Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary School is a beacon of hope for the communities of East Harlem. The Catholic school serves 280 students in Pre-K through 8th grade, and one hundred percent of students qualify for Free Lunch in the National School Lunch Program. According to the New York City Department of Health, more than 4 in 10 elementary school children in East and Central Harlem are overweight or obese. East Harlem currently has the highest rate of childhood asthma hospitalizations in New York City, and over 25% of the area’s children suffer from the condition. Principal Suzanne Kaszynski is taking big strides to address those trends with MyPlate, USDA’s new food icon, in a school-wide effort to prevent childhood obesity and long-term risks for chronic disease. Read more »

Links to the Past: USDA Releases Historic Census of Agriculture Reports

NASS, in partnership with Cornell’s Mann Library, has scanned and digitized thousands of pages of census reports, like this 1840 census publication, to make the historic Census of Agriculture reports available and searchable online for the first time.

NASS, in partnership with Cornell’s Mann Library, has scanned and digitized thousands of pages of census reports, like this 1840 census publication, to make the historic Census of Agriculture reports available and searchable online for the first time.

Did you know that the number of farms in the United States peaked in 1935 at 6,812,350 operations when the average farm size was 154.8 acres? In comparison, the 2007 Census of Agriculture counted 2,204,792 farms with the average farm size of 418 acres. In celebration of 150 years of service to American agriculture, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), in partnership with Cornell University’s Mann Library, are making these and many other historical facts available online at http://agcensus.mannlib.cornell.edu Read more »

Building the Connection between Federal Programs and Job Creation in Rural America

In his State of the Union Address, the President announced a plan for building a strong, successful and lasting economy. He spoke in particular about the need to source jobs domestically in order to bring employment back to the United States and the need for a strong manufacturing base to build our economy upon. Here at the USDA, we are doing our part by supporting rural businesses, building modern, reliable community infrastructure, and working with farmers and ranchers to export products grown in America.

Earlier this week, I participated in a webinar about domestic sourcing and opportunities for partnership between the federal and private sectors back home to America. As the representative for all federal programs, I highlighted many partnering opportunities across agencies like the Small Business Administration and Economic Development Administration, and described in depth the opportunities Rural Development provides to rural residents and businesses. In particular, I spoke about our rural business programs, like the Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program and the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program which in the last year have assisted over 50,000 small and mid-size rural businesses across the country in creating or saving roughly 266,000 jobs. Read more »

USDA Commemorates the “New Year of the Trees”

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary Natural Resources and Environment Harris Sherman (left), next to the freshly planted Dawn Redwood for the Celebration of Tu B’Shevat “The New Year of the Trees” event; the 3rd Grade Class of the Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capitol and other addressed the attendees at the District of Columbia western lawn next to the USDA Headquarters, Whitten Building at 14th Street and Independence Ave SW, Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, February 8, 2012. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary Natural Resources and Environment Harris Sherman (left), next to the freshly planted Dawn Redwood for the Celebration of Tu B’Shevat “The New Year of the Trees” event; the 3rd Grade Class of the Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capital and other addressed the attendees at the District of Columbia western lawn next to the USDA Headquarters, Whitten Building at 14th Street and Independence Ave SW, Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, February 8, 2012. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

It is written in the Talmud – a central text of Judaism – that ‘just as my parents planted for me, so I will plant for my children.’ Here at USDA, we’re planting trees across the country and in Israel to bring the wide-ranging benefits of trees, both ecological and spiritual, to future generations.

Today, USDA Natural Resources and Environment Under Secretary Harris Sherman planted a tree next to the USDA’s Washington DC headquarters in commemoration of Tu B’Shevat, “The New Year of the Trees.” This event brought together the local Jewish community and government leaders alike to share their common bond of conserving our natural resources and leaving a healthier world for the next generation.  Read more »

MOGO: A Wisconsin County on the Move!

A Monroe County elementary school student displays nothing but smiles after participating in a MOGO taste test.

A Monroe County elementary school student displays nothing but smiles after participating in a MOGO taste test.

Community members and organizations of Monroe County in Wisconsin have teamed up to create Monroe On the GO (MOGO). MOGO is a coalition dedicated to increasing access to healthy, affordable foods, one of the pillars of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative. As a Let’s Move Faith and Communities supporter, MOGO is a great example for how community partners are leading, organizing, and taking action to raise a healthier generation of kids. Read more »