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Forest Service-sponsored GreenSchools! Honored by Education Department

Twenty schools registered as GreenSchools! through the Project Learning Tree/U.S. Forest Service program are among 64 schools and 14 school districts honored April 22 as by the U.S. Department of Education as a Green Ribbon School.

The Education Department gave the awards for the schools’ exemplary efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, promote better health, and ensure effective environmental education, including civics and green career pathways.

The schools were confirmed from a pool of candidates voluntarily nominated by 32 state education agencies. The list includes 54 public and 10 private schools. More than half serve a student body more than 40 percent of which is eligible for free and reduced price lunch. Read more »

USDA Marks Earth Day by Announcing Water Quality Improvement Projects Across America

Engineer checking a flowmeterand V-notch weir on a dairy farm in California.

Engineer checking a flowmeterand V-notch weir on a dairy farm in California.

Earth Day is one of our favorite days at USDA Rural Development because we get to showcase the important work that we do to improve water quality for millions of rural Americans. As a part of our Earth Day Celebration this year, USDA Rural Development is announcing 43 projects that will bring new and improved water and waste disposal service to rural communities in 32 states.

For example, one of the projects we’re announcing is in Texas. Buffalo Gap, a rural community outside of Abilene will construct a first-ever wastewater collection system.  The community currently is all-septic.  The funds will allow construction of sewer lines, manholes, lift station and cleanouts.  The system will collect sewage and pump it to Abilene’s wastewater treatment plant.  This is just one example of a small community doing big things to help its residents this Earth Day. Read more »

Helping Produce Businesses in Many Ways

PACA is your partner in the produce industry.  Through its education, mediation licensing, and enforcement services, PACA provides financial protection for produce businesses.

PACA is your partner in the produce industry. Through its education, mediation licensing, and enforcement services, PACA provides financial protection for produce businesses.

Accurate and timely information, access to new markets, and financial protection are critical to the success of any business. In the produce industry, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) provides services to cover all three of these items.

By providing current price and volume information, AMS Market News helps produce businesses, transportation companies, and others make informed decisions. In response to user requests, we created the Custom Average Tool (CAT). This new tool makes it easy to view average price trends over a period of time, select a range of data desired, download data in a spreadsheet, and much more. Choosing which varieties or products to carry and what the price levels might be at a given time of year are easier for  a wholesaler to determine when they can easily visualize average price trends compared to movement in a dashboard. The CAT is now prominently displayed on our Fruit and Vegetable Market News Portal. Read more »

Scientists Unite to Share Ag Data and Feed the World

Cross posted from The Huffington Post:

In the United States, we haven’t worried about food security since the Dust Bowl days of the 1930′s. In fact, our farmers have become so productive we have a thriving food export sector that has returned a positive effect on our economy for over 40 years. Unfortunately, many other countries can not make that same claim.

Over 870 million people are malnourished or hungry according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. As the world grows more interconnected every day, it is imperative that we reach across borders to help other countries solve issues as fundamental as the ability to feed their people. Read more »

Recent Graduate Gains Real-world Experience as Volunteer, Receives Awards

Earth Team Volunteer Kelsey Bulman assisting the Caledonia, Minn. field office with surveying a pollution abatement project for a waste management system. (NRCS photo/ Gary Larson)

Earth Team Volunteer Kelsey Bulman assisting the Caledonia, Minn. field office with surveying a pollution abatement project for a waste management system. (NRCS photo/ Gary Larson)

Most college juniors look forward to summer break as a time to relax without any responsibilities.

Not Kelsey Bulman.

In the summer of 2011, she began volunteering with the Earth Team of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. For her efforts, Bulman won Minnesota’s Earth Team Award in 2012 and was honored with a 2013 National Earth Team Volunteer Award. Read more »