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US Forest Service Honors Outstanding Achievements in Conservation

An educational program about bats, an effort to increase Dusky Canada goose breeding and an annual bird migration celebration are among the winners of the 2013 Wings Across the Americas Conservation Awards.

The U.S. Forest Service awards were presented recently during the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Arlington, Va. Winners for outstanding work in the conservation of birds, bats, butterflies or dragonflies included Forest Service employees and the agency’s partners.  Read more »

Shade-Grown Coffee Protects Puerto Rico Bay Coral Reefs

Shade-grown coffee helps protect water quality and coral reefs like this one in Puerto Rico. NOAA photo.

Shade-grown coffee helps protect water quality and coral reefs like this one in Puerto Rico. NOAA photo.

I work for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency that helps farmers voluntarily implement conservation practices on their lands across the U.S.—including land on my home, Puerto Rico.

I am extremely proud of recent NRCS efforts here to help farmers, ranchers and landowners make significant strides in conserving the Guánica Bay/Rio Loco watershed. This watershed, which is about 100 miles southwest of San Juan, is one of the most diverse and complex in Puerto Rico. Read more »

USDA Seeks Applicants for Loan Funds to Create Rural Jobs

Applications are being accepted starting today from qualified non-profit and public organizations (intermediaries) to provide loans to create jobs by promoting new business development. Funding will be made available through USDA’s Intermediary Relending Program (IRP). Intermediaries work as partners with USDA and serve as a critical component to boosting local economies.

The Intermediary Relending Program is USDA Rural Development’s primary program for capitalizing revolving loan funds. Since President Obama took office, the program has created or saved an estimated 20,000 jobs nationwide. Read more »

The Cotton Patch – Where Innovation and Teamwork Fuel Growth

It’s amazing what can happen when you combine a great idea, commitment to community, love of agriculture, fresh air, good earth, and energized volunteers.  In the Cotton and Tobacco Programs, a part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, we found this to be the perfect combination to cultivate our own People’s Garden – the Cotton Patch.

The People’s Garden initiative brings USDA employees and more than 700 local and national organizations together to create community and school gardens inspiring locally-led solutions to some of the challenges facing our country – from hunger to the environment.

Here in Memphis, creating the Cotton Patch was a collaborative series of fortunate events that began when employees from our local office requested to overhaul the facility’s landscaping and create our own People’s Garden. Read more »

Former Football Player Turns Conservation Assistance into Bottled Gold in Texas

The husband and wife team of Alphonse and Martha Dotson have created a bottled masterpiece, Gotas de Oro, “drops of gold.” Photo by Jaime Tankersley, NRCS Texas.

The husband and wife team of Alphonse and Martha Dotson have created a bottled masterpiece, Gotas de Oro, “drops of gold.” Photo by Jaime Tankersley, NRCS Texas.

A former professional football player was able to realize a life-long dream of owning his own vineyard with the help of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Read more »

Biting Down on the Origin of a Tooth

A Tyrannosaurus Rex tooth found by Barb Beasley during a 2012 Passport in Time excavation in the Late Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation on the Custer National Forest in South Dakota on June 22, 2012. Unlike mammals that only possess two sets of teeth during their lifetime, dinosaurs replaced worn teeth by shedding them continuously throughout their lives. A single Tyrannosaurus may have shed hundreds or even thousands of teeth during its lifetime. U.S. Forest Service photo by Rhonda Fore.

A Tyrannosaurus Rex tooth found by Barb Beasley during a 2012 Passport in Time excavation in the Late Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation on the Custer National Forest in South Dakota on June 22, 2012. Unlike mammals that only possess two sets of teeth during their lifetime, dinosaurs replaced worn teeth by shedding them continuously throughout their lives. A single Tyrannosaurus may have shed hundreds or even thousands of teeth during its lifetime. U.S. Forest Service photo by Rhonda Fore.

The big female sniffed at the dry Late Cretaceous air as she trotted – delicately, considering her 7-ton frame – along a game trail through a stand of towering conifers, whose needled lower branches trembled slightly at her passing. Read more »