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National Volunteer Week: Arkansas Student Volunteer Finds Career, Wins Award

Amanda Carrell holds a deep tillage radish, which is used as a conservation cover crop. The radishes help break up soil compaction and increases water infiltration. (NRCS photo)

Amanda Carrell holds a deep tillage radish, which is used as a conservation cover crop. The radishes help break up soil compaction and increases water infiltration. (NRCS photo)

Amanda Carrell’s two passions in life are volunteering and agriculture.

Luckily, as a student in a soil and water conservation course at Arkansas State University, Carrell was introduced to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Earth Team program, which allowed her to combine the two. Read more »

Can We Eradicate the Asian Longhorned Beetle?

Asian longhorned beetle and "exit hole." Credit: R. Anson Eaglin, USDA-APHIS

Asian longhorned beetle and "egg site." Credit: R. Anson Eaglin, USDA-APHIS

This past March, almost 11 years after being found in New Jersey, federal and state agriculture officials are finally able to say that the state’s long-running battle against the non-native Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) is over.

New Jersey is the second state to declare itself free from the invasive tree-killing insect.  The beetle was successfully eradicated from Illinois in 2008, and the ALB-regulated area of Islip, New York, also achieved eradication in 2011.  So, getting rid of this “hungry pest” is possible.  That’s good news, because, depending on where you live, 70 percent of your community’s tree canopy could be lost to ALB. Read more »

Alaska Native “Strike Force” Community Observes Earth Day with Improved Water Service

The City of Kasaan’s new 150,000 gallon water storage tank.  Quality water for an Alaska Native Community provided through the USDA Rural Alaska Village Grant Program,  Photo taken by Jerry Cnossen, Project Superintendent for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) and used with permission.

The City of Kasaan’s new 150,000 gallon water storage tank. Quality water for an Alaska Native Community provided through the USDA Rural Alaska Village Grant Program, Photo taken by Jerry Cnossen, Project Superintendent for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) and used with permission.

The rural Native village of Kasaan is located in Southeast Alaska and is nearly 700 miles north of Seattle. Earth Day 2013 highlighted USDA Rural Development’s efforts to improve environmental and health conditions in rural Alaskan communities.  Part of that effort is the successful completion of the Kasaan Water Project.

Secretary Tom Vilsack announced funding of the project in the summer of 2011.  The funding was provided through USDA’s Rural Alaska Village Grant (RAVG) program. The project is another successful culmination in the partnerships between USDA, the State of Alaska, the Indian Health Service and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC).  The new infrastructure was put into operation after a final inspection on March 20th. Read more »

Building A Better “Fly Swatter” Based on Science

Common house fly, Musca domestica."

Common house fly, Musca domestica.

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.

We’ve all heard the old saying, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”  But that’s part of the problem where these germ-spreading pests are concerned:  House fly larvae can protect themselves against our most effective pesticides by burrowing deep into gooey substances like food, and adult house flies are very adept at developing resistance to pesticides. Read more »

Forest Service-sponsored GreenSchools! Honored by Education Department

Twenty schools registered as GreenSchools! through the Project Learning Tree/U.S. Forest Service program are among 64 schools and 14 school districts honored April 22 as by the U.S. Department of Education as a Green Ribbon School.

The Education Department gave the awards for the schools’ exemplary efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, promote better health, and ensure effective environmental education, including civics and green career pathways.

The schools were confirmed from a pool of candidates voluntarily nominated by 32 state education agencies. The list includes 54 public and 10 private schools. More than half serve a student body more than 40 percent of which is eligible for free and reduced price lunch. Read more »

USDA Marks Earth Day by Announcing Water Quality Improvement Projects Across America

Engineer checking a flowmeterand V-notch weir on a dairy farm in California.

Engineer checking a flowmeterand V-notch weir on a dairy farm in California.

Earth Day is one of our favorite days at USDA Rural Development because we get to showcase the important work that we do to improve water quality for millions of rural Americans. As a part of our Earth Day Celebration this year, USDA Rural Development is announcing 43 projects that will bring new and improved water and waste disposal service to rural communities in 32 states.

For example, one of the projects we’re announcing is in Texas. Buffalo Gap, a rural community outside of Abilene will construct a first-ever wastewater collection system.  The community currently is all-septic.  The funds will allow construction of sewer lines, manholes, lift station and cleanouts.  The system will collect sewage and pump it to Abilene’s wastewater treatment plant.  This is just one example of a small community doing big things to help its residents this Earth Day. Read more »