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Welcome to National Nutrition Month! And Start Marking your Calendar!

Katherine Tallmadge, DCMADA President, and Sarah Fisher, DCMADA PR Representative and the elementary students from DCPS schools (District of Columbia Public Schools), on Food Day.

Katherine Tallmadge, DCMADA President, and Sarah Fisher, DCMADA PR Representative and the elementary students from DCPS schools (District of Columbia Public Schools), on Food Day.

Join Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on March 8th in celebrating “What’s on My Plate?” Day and help raise public awareness of the importance of choosing nutritious foods for a healthy meal. If you haven’t already joined the network, become one of almost 6,000 of USDA’s MyPlate Community and National Strategic Partners, all of which are committed to promoting a diet that reflects the latest recommendations in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and highlights the message behind the new MyPlate food icon. Be sure to put MyPlate into action by taking a photo of your healthful plates to share on Twitter with the hash-tag #MyPlate. Read more »

New Farmers Benefit from Ag Census

Renee Picanso, NASS Census and Survey Division Director

Renee Picanso, NASS Census and Survey Division Director

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.

This is National Agriculture Week, an annual event that gives us a chance to honor the 3 million plus farmers and ranchers across the United States who work hard each day so that we have healthy and nutritious food on our plates. From the last Census of Agriculture in 2007, we learned that the number of farmers is actually growing. But how do we know that USDA is keeping pace with their needs? Read more »

USDA Holds Cross-Departmental Discussion to Encourage Mentoring and STEM Literacy

National CARES Mentoring Movement founder and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, Essence magazine, Susan Taylor (red coat), met for a cross-departmental discussion with Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy personnel in the Whitten Building, U.S. Department of Agriculture, in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, February 28, 2012.  This not-for-profit organization is dedicated to recruiting and connecting mentors with local youth and mentoring organizations to help guide under-resourced children to academic and social success across the country. This discussion provided a continuation of the White House Policy in Action conference that took place in November 2011.  The focus of the discussion was about how existing federal programs and administration priorities can be leveraged with her organization, especially as it relates to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) literacy, education and rural youth.  USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

National CARES Mentoring Movement founder and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, Essence magazine, Susan Taylor (red coat), met for a cross-departmental discussion with Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy personnel in the Whitten Building, U.S. Department of Agriculture, in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, February 28, 2012. This not-for-profit organization is dedicated to recruiting and connecting mentors with local youth and mentoring organizations to help guide under-resourced children to academic and social success across the country. This discussion provided a continuation of the White House Policy in Action conference that took place in November 2011. The focus of the discussion was about how existing federal programs and administration priorities can be leveraged with her organization, especially as it relates to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) literacy, education and rural youth. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture held a cross-departmental discussion focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) literacy with Susan Taylor of the National CARES Mentoring Network. Susan Taylor, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Essence magazine, founded the National CARES Mentoring Network while spending time in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  While in New Orleans, Susan said that she learned that over 50% of African American fourth graders are functionally illiterate. Susan came to USDA to explain the need for literacy training and other academic enrichment support for under-resourced children in low-income families in order to help students develop a broad range of 21st century literacy skills. Read more »

USDA, Other Agencies, Join Forces to Improve Affordable Rental Housing Programs in Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s affordable housing developers and owners will be relieved of regulatory redundancies and burdens on receiving government financial assistance for low and moderate income housing developments as a result of a Memorandum of Understanding signed last week.

USDA Rural Development State Director, Stan Gruszynski (left) signs the Subsidy Layering Review MOU agreement with WHEDA Executive Director, Wyman Winston; and HUD Midwest Regional Administrator, Antonio Riley at the WHEDA Offices in Madison, WI on February 27, 2012.

USDA Rural Development State Director, Stan Gruszynski (left) signs the Subsidy Layering Review MOU agreement with WHEDA Executive Director, Wyman Winston; and HUD Midwest Regional Administrator, Antonio Riley at the WHEDA Offices in Madison, WI on February 27, 2012.

USDA Rural Development, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) jointly announced the implementation of the program at a signing ceremony in Madison, Wis. Read more »

Forest Service Engineer, Former Student Intern, Triumphs Over Early Life Hardships

“It’s a pleasure to get up in the morning and go to work,” said Toniette “Toni” Addison, a civil engineer for the National Forests in Florida. “I spend the majority of my time designing recreation sites on some of the most beautiful and remote areas of our forests.”

Toni Addison, a civil engineer for the National Forests in Florida, is pictured here at Leon Sink Geological Area on the Apalachicola National Forest. The renovation of Leon Sinks was one of several projects completed in 2011 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Addison inspected the work of local contractors and businesses to ensure that contract specifications were adhered to and the project was completed in a timely manner. Photo Credit: Susan Blake, Public Affairs Specialist, National Forests in Florida

Toni Addison, a civil engineer for the National Forests in Florida, is pictured here at Leon Sink Geological Area on the Apalachicola National Forest. The renovation of Leon Sinks was one of several projects completed in 2011 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Addison inspected the work of local contractors and businesses to ensure that contract specifications were adhered to and the project was completed in a timely manner. Photo Credit: Susan Blake, Public Affairs Specialist, National Forests in Florida

But things were not always so rosy for Addison. One of six children, she recalls a difficult life growing up as a young African-American girl in the projects of Fort Myers, Fla. Her single-parent mother frequently left Toni and her siblings at home alone to fend for themselves – at times for as long as two weeks. Read more »

Slice of Albuquerque Will be Turned into the Children’s Bosque: More Kids in the Woods Projects and Children’s Forests Nationwide Receive $1 Million Funding

Urban children in Albuquerque, N.M., will soon be able to descend on 20 acres of forestland along the Rio Grande River, where they will have the freedom to climb onto an elevated fort, hike on a trail through the cottonwood forest to learn about the different plants and animals and do what all children are supposed to do: play outside.

Children looking through microscopes in a forest.

Children looking through microscopes in a forest.

Children’s Bosque – Spanish for forest – is one of eight Children’s Forests and 23 More Kids in the Woods projects in 18 states awarded a total of $1 million in cost-share grants from the U.S. Forest Service. Each of the winning projects has the backing of partners and local communities, and winning proposals either expand current projects or create new ones. Read more »