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Recent Graduate Gains Real-world Experience as Volunteer, Receives Awards

Earth Team Volunteer Kelsey Bulman assisting the Caledonia, Minn. field office with surveying a pollution abatement project for a waste management system. (NRCS photo/ Gary Larson)

Earth Team Volunteer Kelsey Bulman assisting the Caledonia, Minn. field office with surveying a pollution abatement project for a waste management system. (NRCS photo/ Gary Larson)

Most college juniors look forward to summer break as a time to relax without any responsibilities.

Not Kelsey Bulman.

In the summer of 2011, she began volunteering with the Earth Team of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. For her efforts, Bulman won Minnesota’s Earth Team Award in 2012 and was honored with a 2013 National Earth Team Volunteer Award. Read more »

Learning from Promising Models and Leaders in the North Star State

In my position as Under Secretary, I occasionally travel the country to meet with, and learn from, some of the many partners who administer and leverage the USDA’s 15 nutrition assistance programs. These programs—from school meals to SNAP (formerly food stamps)—currently touch the lives of one in four Americans.

During a whirlwind visit to Minnesota in March, I had the opportunity to meet with a variety of individuals and organizations directly or indirectly involved with one or more of our nutrition programs. For starters, I participated in a terrific roundtable at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health hosted by national nutrition expert Dr. Mary Story, a strong supporter of healthy school meals. Minnesota Senator Al Franken joined me to hear from local organizations and agencies that administer nutrition assistance programs, promote good nutrition or even work with farmers markets. I was impressed with the accomplishments being realized and the creative approaches employed by local partners to improve nutrition, eliminate hunger, support children and families, and connect farmers to local markets. Read more »

Who Says Research Can’t be Fun?

If Morgan Grove had 30 seconds to brief any high-level official, he would simply describe his job as working to make cities better and safer places for people to live.

“Our Forest Service research benefits the public in many ways — including having clean water to drink, safer living environments and recreating outside for healthier lives,” said Grove.

Because of Grove’s love of the great outdoors, he’s observed, learned and shared a lot of his scientific expertise during his 17 years with the U.S. Forest Service. He is a research scientist at the Northern Research Station’s field office in Baltimore, located in one of the most heavily forested and heavily populated areas in the United States. Read more »

Forest Service Prairie May See Bison Again

The Houserock Valley Bison Herd grazes on the Kaibab National Forest in Arizona. Bison will soon be seen grazing on the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Illinois. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

The Houserock Valley Bison Herd grazes on the Kaibab National Forest in Arizona. Bison will soon be seen grazing on the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Illinois. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Today, roughly half-a-million bison dot the nation’s landscape, a far cry from the more than 20 to 30 million that once roamed much of North America.

And while they have not been part of the Forest Service’s Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie ecosystem for more than a century, the habitat here will soon be home for 20 to 30 of the animals, perhaps as early as December 2013. Read more »

U.S. Food Companies Refocus on Product Healthfulness

ERS research on voluntary health and nutrition claims on over 7,000 recently introduced food and beverage products found that the fastest growing claims related to trans fats, gluten calories, vitamins/minerals, and antioxidants.

ERS research on voluntary health and nutrition claims on over 7,000 recently introduced food and beverage products found that the fastest growing claims related to trans fats, gluten calories, vitamins/minerals, and antioxidants.

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.

On your last visit to the grocery store, you may have noticed the multitude of products proclaiming “no trans fats,” or “gluten-free,” or “high fiber.”  These voluntary claims are one way companies compete for customers. But what influences food companies’ use of these claims, and are they successful in boosting sales? Read more »

Working Together to Prevent Summer Hunger

Making sure children have nutritious meals and keep their bodies moving all year long is one of USDA’s most important missions. Our Summer Food Service Program plays an important role in ensuring that all children get healthy meals during the summertime.    We’re proud to say that in 2012, our partners helped to serve 144 million summer meals at 38,800 sites across the country. That translates to 2.3 million children served on a typical summer day.

But there is still a lot of work to be done. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of kids who rely on free and reduced price meals during the school year participate in the summer program. So this year we’ve set out to serve 5 million more summer meals. We need your help to meet that goal. Read more »