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USDA Celebrates 150 years of Campus and Community

At 11:00 am today, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, will be helping open the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, hosting visitors from around the world who will come to the Mall in Washington, D.C. for this annual event.  The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the only federal agency lucky enough to be located right on the Mall, and this year we’re also honored to be a part of the Folklife Festival, celebrating our 150-year partnership with the Land Grant University system. “Campus and Community: Public and Land Grant Universities and USDA at 150” is one of the three themes highlighted at the Festival this year.

USDA scientists, agricultural experts and speakers will be partnering with representatives from 29 Land Grant Universities (LGUs) to showcase all the great work we do together to support agricultural production, education and rural communities across America.  USDA works hand-in-hand with Land Grant and public universities to put research into action locally, regionally and globally.

Highlights of “Campus and Community” include demonstrations about Reinventing Agriculture, Sustainable Solutions, and a Reunion Hall where alumni from the LGUs can meet and share their stories.  Smithsonian U will reside in a tent where master educators, including popular university professors and USDA research and outreach staff, will provide short talks on topics ranging from the history of marching bands to invasive species in your backyard to the science of brewing beer. Scientists from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service will be exhibiting honey bees, to talk about their work with pollinators and about their research into the causes of and solutions to Colony Collapse Disorder. At the Foodways Test Kitchen, the Director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, will show the audience how to use insects as a source of food – something many cultures around the world eat as a regular part of their diets!

There will be entertainment galore at the Justin S. Morrill Performing Arts Center – named after the visionary Vermont legislator who crafted the legislation that created the LGUs. University-based performing groups such as hula dancers from the University of Hawaii and marching bands will perform throughout the day and into the evening, highlighting music from around the world.

There’s something for everyone at this year’s Festival, which runs from June 27 through July 1, and July 4 through July 8, from 11 am to 5:30 pm.  See the program at:  www.festival.si.edu Come on down and help us celebrate what USDA and the land grants are doing for all Americans!

Can’t travel to Washington to participate? USDA will be live tweeting highlights from the festival at @ScienceAtUSDA! Follow us there or using the hashtags #2012FolkLife and #USDA150.

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