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Brown Bat Found in Washington State Infected with Familiar Strain of Fungus

Forest Service Research Botanist Jonathan Palmer holding a DNA sequencing chip

Forest Service Research Botanist Jonathan Palmer holds a DNA sequencing chip. Photo credit: US Forest Service

When a little brown bat discovered near North Bend, Washington, in March tested positive for White-nose Syndrome or WNS, scientists had a lot of questions.

The bat was found nearly 1,300 miles from the nearest confirmed case of WNS in eastern North America, so the most pressing question was about the strain of fungus causing this disease: was this a known strain of the WNS-fungus, was this an entirely new strain from elsewhere in the world, or was this the same clone of fungus that has been spreading throughout the eastern United States since 2006? Read more »

New SNAP E&T Initiatives Aim to Help SNAP Participants Find Jobs

Adult education class raising hands to ask questions

SNAP E&T provides in-demand job training and skills to low-income and low-skilled individuals.

Getting a good job these days takes more than good intentions because today’s jobs require a higher level of skills than ever before.  This is why the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s Employment and Training Program (SNAP E&T), administered by states across the country, has such an important role to play in helping SNAP recipients gain the skills they need to find and keep good jobs.  This is also why the U.S. Department of Agriculture is committed to supporting this effort.

USDA demonstrated that commitment in two new initiatives launched just this week, the SNAP E&T Learning Academy and a new website for the innovative SNAP to Skills Project, led by the Food and Nutrition Service. The Academy breaks new ground, as a first-ever opportunity that will help address an identified need. You see, though SNAP E&T programs operate across America, we’ve found that there is an opportunity for further sharing of best practices and lessons learned by developing resources that spread the knowledge base throughout the country. The two new projects launched this week will use a “train-the-trainer” model to create new leadership capacity to build the next generation of SNAP E&T programs. Read more »

MyPlate, MyState Helps You Bring the Joy of Local Foods to the Classroom

MyPlate, MyState Pennsylvania sample coloring sheet

MyPlate, MyState activities, including this sample coloring sheet, can bring the joy of local foods into the classroom year-round.

Hello Teachers of America!

Are you looking for resources for your classes that combine topics such as food and nutrition, farmers and farmers markets, and your state’s agriculture?

The USDA Center for Nutrition Policy & Promotion (CNPP) – the group responsible for MyPlate – recently launched MyPlate, MyState – a mini-campaign that encourages consumers to personalize their healthy eating style with local and regional foods and flavors. MyPlate, MyState is part of MyPlate, MyWins, a consumer education campaign designed to help Americans find healthy eating styles that work for them through small changes that can be maintained over time. MyPlate, MyState brings home – literally and figuratively – the messages of MyPlate, MyWins by personalizing eating styles with local flavors, local foods, and local recipes. Read more »

Cultivating Heritage, Freedom & Self-Determination

A high tunnel

Despite the overwhelming challenges faced by its members and descendants over nearly 200 years, the MBCI continues to cultivate their heritage, freedom and self-determination.

USDA invited A-dae Romero-Briones, member of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), to be a guest author for this blog. The NOSB provides critical support to the USDA and the organic community.  We thank the NOSB for their commitment to the organic community, and the integrity of the organic label.

In 2012, members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (MBCI) established Choctaw Fresh Produce to help overcome employment and health challenges on their reservation.  Today, by creating jobs and producing healthy foods on tribal lands, Choctaw Fresh Produce is also helping empower and transform their tribal communities.

The MBCI is a Federally-recognized Indian tribe of approximately 10,000 members that reside in eight reservation communities on 35,000 acres of trust land across ten counties in east central Mississippi.  The MBCI are the descendants of the Choctaw that refused to be removed from their ancestral lands and relocated to land in what is now Oklahoma.  Prior to the mass relocations known as the Trails of Tears that began in 1830, the Choctaw were dedicated to agriculture, hunting, and trade over what is now most of Mississippi. Read more »

New and Improved Tools Help Adapt Forests to Changing Conditions

Natural resources professionals from the U.S. Forest Service

Natural resources professionals from the U.S. Forest Service

Changes in climate and extreme weather are already increasing challenges for forest ecosystems across the world. Many impacts are expected to remain into the future.  This means forest managers, conservationists and woodland owners continually need to address climate change to ensure forests can provide a broad array of benefits and services. The USDA Northern Forests Climate Hub and the U.S. Forest Service provide tools to help address this need.

Collaboration between scientists and managers resulted in the publication Forest Adaptation Resources: Climate Change Tools and Approaches for Land Managers. This publication provides a suite of materials enabling land managers to consider the likely effects of climate change and increase the ability of forests to cope with climate change impacts. Read more »