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A New Assignment Near Jalalabad

Members of the Missouri ADT survey the Kabul River with USDA’s Tom Vermeersch.

Members of the Missouri ADT survey the Kabul River with USDA’s Tom Vermeersch.

Forward Operating Base Finley-Shields, Nangarhar, Afghanistan – My new assignment is in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province near Jalalabad, the second largest population center in Afghanistan, along the volatile Afghanistan-Pakistan border. In August, I left Camp Blessing in Kunar province, just north of Jalalabad, to assist here. My new home is Forward Operating Base Finley-Shields in Nangarhar, also home to the Nangarhar provincial reconstruction team (PRT) and Behsud District Support Team. Part of the base is an old Soviet motel built several decades, in which I share a room with an Army medic, a great guy whom I’ve taught a few songs on the guitar. A total of nine civilians from three agencies work here (State, U.S. Agency for International Development, and USDA). In addition, the Missouri Agribusiness Development Team (ADT) of the U.S. Army National Guard also calls Finley-Shields home. In the past eight weeks, I’ve enjoyed being part of this larger team. The ADT allows us civilians to get off base more and interact directly with Afghan farmers and extension agents. I also noticed how this focused, comprehensive U.S. effort here in Nangarhar is instilling greater confidence in the Afghan people. Read more »

The USDA Food Safety Discovery Zone Spreads Food Safety Education to Students and Health Enthusiasts in Washington, D.C.

As the nation’s capitol geared up for Halloween and midterm elections, the USDA Food Safety Discovery Zone (FSDZ) was equally busy at the end of October spreading its Be Food Safe messages to Washington, D.C. residents and tourists. In just one week, the FSDZ hosted a Food Safety Education Camp on Gallaudet University’s campus for students from Kendall Demonstration Elementary School and Maryland School for the Deaf, followed by an exhibit at the 2010 Marine Corps Marathon Health and Fitness Expo by GE, where over 100,000 health-conscious participants were ready to learn illness prevention measures. Read more »

USDA Rural Development Financing Provides Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s Government Center and Health Clinic, Creating or Saving Over 300 Jobs

November is National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month and a fitting time to highlight USDA Rural Development’s recent projects on tribal lands. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Mashpee, Massachusetts, are the direct ancestors of those who helped the Pilgrims on their arrival to New England over 400 years ago. Thanks to recent financing from USDA Rural Development (USDA RD), a means to preserve their culture and conduct tribal operations will soon improve dramatically. Read more »

Two Innovative Mississippi Public Schools Meet USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge

FNCS Deputy Under Secretary Dr. Janey Thornton eats lunch with Grenada Upper Elementary School Students after their school was awarded the HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award, Grenada, Miss., Nov 3.

FNCS Deputy Under Secretary Dr. Janey Thornton eats lunch with Grenada Upper Elementary School Students after their school was awarded the HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award, Grenada, Miss., Nov 3.

Recently, I had the privilege of visiting Northern Mississippi to recognize two schools for meeting USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC). I stopped at Pope Elementary/Junior High School in Pope, Miss. and met with and congratulated the cafeteria and other staff for achieving a Bronze Award.  I then traveled to Grenada Upper Elementary School in Grenada, Miss., for an assembly where I recognized the school for earning a Gold Award. Read more »

NRCS Around the World: Overcoming Obstacles in Afghanistan

This is part 3 of a three-part series. You can read Part 1 here, and part 2 here.

My first order with the windmill pump manufacturing company was for four windmills. The first windmill would be constructed at Kandahar Airfield as a demonstration project for military commanders and Afghan officials. The other three would go to Uruzgan province with a subsequent order intended for Zabul province. Read more »

USDA’s Rural Utilities Service-Helping Meet the Demand for Renewable Energy

As part of the Obama Administration’s goal of doubling renewable energy production by 2012, America’s rural electric cooperatives are stepping forward to develop new, sustainable ways to produce electricity.  These efforts are not only good for the environment; they help meet an expanding need for power due to growing rural consumer demand.  The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), part of USDA’s Rural Development mission area, is a willing and ready partner in this effort. Read more »