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Conservation Tour Showcases an Awe-Inspiring Partnership

NRCS Soil Scientist Roger Windhorn shows participants the differences in soil layers and what makes a healthy soil.

NRCS Soil Scientist Roger Windhorn shows participants the differences in soil layers and what makes a healthy soil.

A recent tour in Livingston, Ill. showcased the successes a powerful partnership has had in the Indian Creek Watershed.

The 6th Annual Conservation in Action Tour was organized by the Conservation Technology Information Center to highlight community efforts in the watershed taking place under the auspices of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watershed Initiative.

Through the initiative, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and partners work with landowners and farmers to address nutrient loading in priority small watersheds within the Mississippi River Basin. Program participants implement voluntary conservation practices that improve water quality, restore wetlands and enhance wildlife habitat while allowing them to sustain or improve agricultural productivity. Illinois is one of the 13 states included in the initiative. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Commonsense Immigration Reform: Pro-Growth and Pro-Agriculture

A report released this week by the White House economic team shows the benefits of commonsense immigration reform for rural America.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Senate passed a commonsense immigration reform measure in a strongly bipartisan fashion. The Senate plan provides a pathway to earned citizenship for those who are in our country without authorization. They will have to go to the back of the line, pay fines and settle taxes they owe our nation. It would also put in place the toughest border security plan that America has ever seen. Read more »

Smurfs Encourage Kids to Get Outdoors

Young Smurf fans visit the Forest Service’s booth during a community outreach event promoting the Discover the Forest campaign. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Young Smurf fans visit the Forest Service’s booth during a community outreach event promoting the Discover the Forest campaign. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Little blue gnome-like creatures helped the U.S. Forest Service kick off its latest campaign to get people out into the woods. Partnering with the Ad Council and Sony Pictures Entertainment, the Forest Service recently launched its Discover the Forest campaign featuring the Smurfs and their new movie, The Smurfs 2.

Studies have shown that the time children in the United States spend outdoors has declined 50 percent over the past 20 years. Population shifts to urban and suburban environments, an increase in children’s indoor activities, and a lack of awareness of, or access to, nearby nature locations have contributed to this trend. However, research shows there are many benefits to kids spending time in nature. Time spent outdoors gives children the ability to explore, use their imaginations, discover new wildlife and engage in unstructured and adventurous play. Read more »

Enjoy Foods from Many Cultures with MyPlate

The summer months often present more leisure time for families and friends to gather together.  These celebrations, like celebrations throughout the year, usually involve food. The USDA wants to make sure that your festive meals are healthy and that’s why the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) has released a new resource offering 10 tips to wisely celebrate healthier foods and customs. The new tip sheet, which is part of the 10 tips Nutrition Education Series, shows you how to embrace the favorite foods of your culture, as well as foods from other cultures, in a healthier way.

Enjoy Foods from Many Cultures, available for free download at ChooseMyPlate.gov, highlights ways to maintain a healthy diet while preparing and enjoying the food we love.  I recently talked about this with Taylor Durkin, a summer intern at CNPP, who reflected that “One of my favorite tips from this resource is to add a touch of spice. I always use herbs and spices like basil, cilantro, and ginger when I cook. It adds freshness and flavor to my meals!” Read more »