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Smokey Bear Pauses from Routine to Distribute Awards

Hi there! Smokey Bear here. We all know that bears love to hang out in the forests, but as our Nation’s symbol for wildfire prevention, I don’t get to do that as much as I’d like. So I’m really excited to tell you about a trip I recently made to the woods of Pennsylvania.

I went to the Boy Scouts of America Camp Karoondinha to help present a Bronze Smokey Bear Award to Pennsylvania State fire wardens for their “Wardens Helping in Prevention” program. Read more »

From an Idaho Youth Loan to National Youth Leader

Shane Kerner used an FSA Rural Youth Loan to purchase cattle, including her ‘best show’ heifer shown here. From that point, she built a thriving commercial herd.

Shane Kerner used an FSA Rural Youth Loan to purchase cattle, including her ‘best show’ heifer shown here. From that point, she built a thriving commercial herd.

Shane Kerner applied for her first USDA Farm Service Agency Rural Youth Loan at age 14. Now, at age 20, she not only reached adulthood, but financial independence to grow what was once a 4-H project into a thriving cattle operation.

“I never thought I would get as far as I am today with my cattle,” said Shane. “It is truly a privilege to have the opportunity to start at a young age and see the growth of your animals from seed stock to a small commercial herd, right outside your door.”

Shane refers to her operation as a passion for finding the highest genetics for breeding Angus cattle. With the proceeds from the sale of seven grass-fed calves she purchased with the youth loan, she bought more cattle, including her best show heifer. This started the foundation for growing a registered Angus herd. Read more »

Finding the Future of Agriculture

During the North American Indian Days Celebration in Montana, Under Secretary Ed Avalos (foreground), witnessed the pride and commitment of youth as they celebrated their cultural and agricultural roots.

During the North American Indian Days Celebration in Montana, Under Secretary Ed Avalos (foreground), witnessed the pride and commitment of youth as they celebrated their cultural and agricultural roots.

Agricultural producers in rural America represent less than 1% of the U.S. population, yet they produce almost 75% of the food we eat in this country and much of the food eaten throughout the world. Among that 1%, the average age of the American farmer is 57 years old—making it imperative for us to engage and encourage young people to pursue agricultural careers.

Earlier this summer, while visiting Browning, Montana, I had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Billie Jo Kipp, President of the Blackfeet Community College (BCC) and Mr. Terry Tatsey, Director of Agricultural Programs at the college.  Their efforts and commitment to educate local students and keep young people in agriculture is inspiring. Read more »