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Keeping NASS Ahead of the Technology Curve

Pam Hird, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Photo courtesy of FedTech Magazine

Pam Hird, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Photo courtesy of FedTech Magazine

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 USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Unlike the math and agricultural statisticians with whom I work daily, I took a completely different career path into the world of agricultural statistics. In college, I started out as an accounting major at Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, WV. Based on the recommendation of friends, I took some courses in computer programming and the love affair began when I was introduced to Fortran and Cobol. After college, I stuck to my IT knowledge and went into sales revolving around IT solutions for government contractors and customers including Dulles Airport, Martin Marietta, and Contel. These experiences taught me to think logically, to put myself in the other person’s shoes, and to communicate effectively. Read more »

Making California and Minnesota a Magnet for New Jobs

While many manufacturing companies provide well-paying jobs and play a vital role in creating vibrant, healthy rural communities, sometimes rural communities may struggle to attract these companies. To help bridge this gap, the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) was created. This Administration-wide effort brings together federal departments and agencies to provide coordinated assistance to communities to become more attractive for manufacturers.

Recently, USDA hosted two IMCP events in Minnesota and California with diverse audiences of about 120 stakeholders representing manufacturing businesses, lenders, economic development organizations, universities and community colleges, small businesses development centers, and local leaders among others. At both meetings, USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Lillian Salerno led panels of federal partners that discussed the initiative and sought input on the needs of local manufacturers. Read more »

Forest Service Partners with Shedd Aquarium on Great Lakes Exhibit

You can actually feel the wonder while discovering a new side of the U.S. Forest Service at Shedd Aquarium’s new Great Lakes Exhibit At Home on the Great Lakes.

The Shedd Aquarium, on famous Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, unveiled the exhibit as part of its renovation of the facility’s historic Local Waters Gallery. The exhibit features exciting new interactive components. Visitors experience a connection to the Great Lakes through hands-on learning and up-close encounters with native Great Lakes species.

“There is a strong connection between the health of national forests and the health of the Great Lakes,” said Regional Forester Kathleen Atkinson. “The Forest Service is thrilled to collaborate with the Shedd Aquarium to raise awareness about the interconnectedness of these resources.” Read more »

How Immigration Reform Will Benefit Farmers and Rural Communities

Cross posted from the White House Blog:

Today, the White House released a new report detailing the important benefits provided by the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill for the domestic agriculture sector, its workforce, and rural American communities. As the report states, in recent years, the agriculture sector has seen strong growth, with farm income and agriculture exports both reaching historic highs. But there’s more work to do, and currently the agriculture industry is hampered by a broken immigration system that fails to support a predictable and stable workforce. Among all economic sectors, the U.S. agriculture sector is particularly reliant on foreign-born workers. Agricultural producers cite difficulty in locating qualified available authorized workers—both foreign and domestic—as one reason for the high rate of undocumented labor. Moreover, there continues to be insufficient U.S. workers to fill labor needs: of those crop workers surveyed between 2007 and 2009, 71 percent were foreign born.

As President Obama said in his State of the Union address, “If we’re truly committed to strengthening our middle class and providing more ladders of opportunity to those who are willing to work hard to make it into the middle class, we’ve got to fix the system. We have to bring this shadow economy into the light so that everybody is held accountable — businesses for who they hire, and immigrants for getting on the right side of the law. That’s common sense. And that’s why we need comprehensive immigration reform.” Read more »

A Makeover for a House Loaded with Memories

Nellie Buckman is the daughter of a migrant worker.  Growing up her family moved from place to place a lot.  She never really had a place to call home until her adult years when she moved into a little tiny house that was originally from Igloo, South Dakota, which incidentally  is  located on the same lot line as her current residence which was built by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 1979.  Over the years, the Buckmans raised 10 children in this home.  The transition from the little small house to the HUD house was quite an experience for the family.  The HUD house was much bigger and in the beginning, the children all slept in one bedroom until they got used to having extra space.  Her children now grown, Buckman’s home continues to be a gathering place for her large family.

“I love having a place to call home, to care for, and have all of my trinkets and memories surround me,” said Nellie Buckman. Read more »

Packed House in Tucson, Arizona for Energy Round Table Listening Session with Rural Utilities Administrator

Sorry Mr. Wolfe. As it turns out, you actually CAN go home again…and John Padalino recently did.

Padalino is the Administrator for the USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS), a branch of USDA Rural Development. Born in south Tucson, Padalino grew up along the border where his father was a customs agent. Recently he was back in Tucson to facilitate a Rural Development Energy Round Table.

The round table was filled to capacity with participants that represented small businesses, solar companies, utilities, community action groups, tribes, contractors, and local governments. Read more »