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NIFA Grant Brings Power of the Sun to Remote Arizona Community

Tohono O’odham Community College occupational technology students receive hands-on training using solar demo trailer that is used to demonstrate different ways that solar energy can be used, including a passive solar hot water heater as shown on the roof of the trailer.  The solar demo trailer is a mobile educational resource that is used throughout the schools and communities of the Tohono O'odham Nation in Arizona.

Tohono O’odham Community College occupational technology students receive hands-on training using solar demo trailer that is used to demonstrate different ways that solar energy can be used, including a passive solar hot water heater as shown on the roof of the trailer. The solar demo trailer is a mobile educational resource that is used throughout the schools and communities of the Tohono O'odham Nation in Arizona.

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.

A man in Arizona threw away an extension cord – and that’s a big deal for some folks who live about 100 miles west of Tucson.

The 48 families who live in the Pisinemo District of the Tohono O’odham Nation reside in an area so remote that some had to get their power by stringing extension cords to a neighbor’s house. Now, however, they have new solar panels to provide electricity for heating, cooling, and cooking. Read more »

Thanksgiving – Brought to You by the American Farmer

An infographic exploring the traditional Thanksgiving meal, brought to you by the American Farmer. Click to see a larger version.

An infographic exploring the traditional Thanksgiving meal, brought to you by the American Farmer. Click to see a larger version.

Thanksgiving is a time when Americans come together to celebrate a holiday that connects each and every one of us. During this truly American holiday, we all give thanks for the previous year’s blessings and look ahead to the future. While we may bring our own traditions and flavors to the table, Thanksgiving is a time for all of us to celebrate our country’s rich history.

It has always been a special holiday to me, but this past year I developed an even greater appreciation for all that goes in to producing the Thanksgiving meal. As Administrator of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), I spent the last six months visiting with American farmers and learning about their businesses. In my conversations with American farmers and ranchers, I am always impressed by their work ethic, ingenuity, and dedication to making sure their customers get the best products. It’s no wonder that our nation’s farmers were responsible for producing nearly 7.5 trillion pounds of turkey in 2012—nearly half the world’s supply!—and are leaders when it comes to many other foods regularly featured in Thanksgiving meals.  In 2012, American farmers also produced 3.1 billion pounds of sweet corn and nearly 2.7 billion pounds of sweet potatoes.

Read more »

FAS Programs Help Promote Native American Foods Worldwide

U.S. exhibitors from Washington state and Alaska showcase their seafood products to buyers inside the American Indian Foods Booth at FOODEX 2013. (Courtesy Photo)

U.S. exhibitors from Washington state and Alaska showcase their seafood products to buyers inside the American Indian Foods Booth at FOODEX 2013. (Courtesy Photo)

The Foreign Agricultural Service recognizes the U.S. agricultural exports grown, produced and harvested by American Indians across the country during Native American Heritage Month

For more than 25 years, the Intertribal Agriculture Council has promoted the conservation, development and use of agricultural resources to benefit American Indians. With the help of the Foreign Agricultural Service’s market development programs, IAC has introduced American Indian foods, grown and harvested in traditional ways established hundreds of years ago, to countries around the world.

The council is a Market Access Program participant, and uses the program to recruit new members, help businesses attend export readiness seminars and international trade shows, lead buyer’s trade missions and conduct promotional activities in worldwide markets. IAC also partners with FAS to conduct the American Indian Foods program, which also helps Indian-owned businesses showcase their agricultural products and culture to foreign markets. Read more »

USA Pro Challenge Pedals into Success through the National Forests

Kristy Wumkes (left), partnership coordinator on the Canyon Lands Ranger District, and volunteers greets visitors to the U.S. Forest Service booth at the Fort Collins stage finish line. (U.S. Forest Service/Reghan Cloudman)

Kristy Wumkes (left), partnership coordinator on the Canyon Lands Ranger District, and volunteers greets visitors to the U.S. Forest Service booth at the Fort Collins stage finish line. (U.S. Forest Service/Reghan Cloudman)

It was hard to hear over the noise of screaming spectators chanting “USA, USA, USA” recently at the finish line of the USA Pro Challenge in downtown Denver. The city served as the end point for the more than 600-mile, seven-stage road cycling race held in Colorado for the third consecutive year. There were many excited faces in the crowd as 150 professional cyclists from 16 international teams sprinted through the finish line.

“This is not just a bike race,” said a spectator who has attended the event every year. “It’s about the people coming together to take part in creating a memorable event for something we love to do.” Read more »

Deputy Secretary Announces USDA Support for Graduate Housing on Maryland’s Eastern Shore

USDA Deputy Agriculture Secretary Krysta Harden (seated right) announces USDA funding for the first graduate school dorms at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Seated next to her is  University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) President Dr. Juliette B. Bell.  (Standing) left to right, Moses Kairo, dean of UMES’ School of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, UMES executive vice president Kim Dumpson; Danette Howard, the Maryland Secretary of Higher Education; Dale Wesson, UMES’ research and economic development vice president; Jerry Redden, interim director - Maryland Hawk Corp. and Ronald Nykiel, UMES’ chief academic policymaker. Photo courtesy of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Used with permission.

USDA Deputy Agriculture Secretary Krysta Harden (seated right) announces USDA funding for the first graduate school dorms at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Seated next to her is University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) President Dr. Juliette B. Bell. (Standing) left to right, Moses Kairo, dean of UMES’ School of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, UMES executive vice president Kim Dumpson; Danette Howard, the Maryland Secretary of Higher Education; Dale Wesson, UMES’ research and economic development vice president; Jerry Redden, interim director - Maryland Hawk Corp. and Ronald Nykiel, UMES’ chief academic policymaker. Photo courtesy of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Used with permission.

When you think back to your college days, what stands out?  For many, college is the first opportunity for a student to move away from a childhood home and take another step toward full adulthood.  Finding housing away from home can be expensive, especially for students enrolled in graduate programs.

Recently, USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden visited The University of Maryland Eastern Shore, a vibrant campus with over 700 graduate students.  Until now, those students did not have an option to stay in a graduate dorm.  They are being housed in Salisbury, Maryland and commuting.  This is time-consuming and expensive. Read more »

Crafting a Regional Vision–New River Valley, Virginia is Developing Long Range Strategic Plan to Shape its Future

Jessica Wirgau, Executive Director of the Community Foundation of the New River Valley and Kevin Byrd, Executive Director of the New River Valley Planning District Commission, celebrate the near completion of a successful three-year federally-funded community planning process.

Jessica Wirgau, Executive Director of the Community Foundation of the New River Valley and Kevin Byrd, Executive Director of the New River Valley Planning District Commission, celebrate the near completion of a successful three-year federally-funded community planning process.

One of the challenges with implementing USDA Rural Development programs is that many of the communities we serve have not had the opportunity to develop strategic plans to guide federal infrastructure investments effectively. Fortunately, a 2010 grant from HUD’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities enabled the New River Valley Planning District Commission to engage the public in the rural Southwest Virginia counties of Pulaski, Montgomery, Giles, and Floyd and all the major towns to develop a blueprint for future economic activity.

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend a meeting where over 100 rural citizens in the New River Valley gathered to put some of the finishing touches on the 3-year regional planning process, known locally as their Livability Initiative. I came away inspired by the dialogue that has evolved over the past three years and am looking forward to seeing how the communities in this economically diverse rural region look for ways to implement some of the ideas they have generated to improve their communities and enhance long-term economic opportunities. Read more »