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The Worth of Trees May be More Than You Think

For urban dwellers, trees soften a city’s hard edges and surfaces, shade homes and streets, enhance neighborhood beauty, filter the air, mitigate storm runoff, and absorb carbon dioxide. Trees may even reduce crime and improve human health. However, these benefits have not been well quantified, making it difficult for urban planners and property owners to weigh their costs and benefits or assess tree cover against competing land uses. Read more »

Feds Feed Families in South Dakota

Feds Feed Families:  (left to right), Traci Ross, Farm Service Agency Coordinator; Tammi Schone, Rural Development Coordinator; and Linda Weinzetl, Natural Resources Conservation Service Coordinator with some of the food collected for the backpack program.

Feds Feed Families: (left to right), Traci Ross, Farm Service Agency Coordinator; Tammi Schone, Rural Development Coordinator; and Linda Weinzetl, Natural Resources Conservation Service Coordinator with some of the food collected for the backpack program.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) partnered with the Office of Personnel Management to participate in the Feds, Farmers, and Friends Feed Families (F5), a food drive.  This food drive benefited local food banks identified by state and area/local USDA offices. Read more »

Deputy Under Secretary Janey Thornton Participates in Georgia School Nutrition Directors’ Conference

USDA Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Deputy Under Secretary Janey Thornton smiles at Nancy Rice, Georgia Department of Education’s School Nutrition Division director, after speaking on Changing the School Nutrition Scene at Georgia’s annual School Nutrition Directors’ Conference on Sept. 30, 2010, in Athens, Ga.  Approximately 200 school nutrition directors, coordinators, nutrition specialists, trainers and state staff gave her a standing ovation.

USDA Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Deputy Under Secretary Janey Thornton smiles at Nancy Rice, Georgia Department of Education’s School Nutrition Division director, after speaking on Changing the School Nutrition Scene at Georgia’s annual School Nutrition Directors’ Conference on Sept. 30, 2010, in Athens, Ga. Approximately 200 school nutrition directors, coordinators, nutrition specialists, trainers and state staff gave her a standing ovation.

I just participated in a wonderful school nutrition conference in Athens, GA that ran from September 28-30.  It was Georgia’s annual School Nutrition Directors’ Conference, and I found it to be very well organized and packed with important information. Read more »

Baby Steps in Conservation

Meredith Koch is a 16 year old 4-H member from Marshall County, MS.

Meredith Koch is a 16 year old 4-H member from Marshall County, MS.

From the waters that run deep through the earth to the moisture that composes clouds in the sky, water hydrates all life forms on earth. Water also affects global weather that makes earth hospitable for living creatures and plants. This resource is all around us yet we rarely understand the need to conserve and protect our water. Read more »

“Spuds Unearthed!” Exhibit Digs Up History of the Potato

Jean Ristaino of North Carolina State University used USDA funds to sequence late blight disease, pictured, responsible for the Irish potato famine. Her research is leading to new ways to combat the disease.

Jean Ristaino of North Carolina State University used USDA funds to sequence late blight disease, pictured, responsible for the Irish potato famine. Her research is leading to new ways to combat the disease.

The potato is the world’s fourth largest food crop and is the largest vegetable crop in the United States. The crop originated in the Andes Mountains in South America, and in the ensuing 7,000 years, has spread across the globe. Potatoes have played an important role in saving populations of people around the world from starvation. However, the potato has had a tumultuous history, suffering from late blight disease, which caused the Irish potato famine and a severe outbreak in 2009 in the United States. Read more »

Rural Development Employees “Pour Sweat Equity” Into Home Building

Volunteers secure the north end wall of the house after it is lifted into place.

Volunteers secure the north end wall of the house after it is lifted into place.

A nice break in the recent rainy weather in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia offered perfect timing for a Self-Help Build day.  The event which was held September 29, 2010, has become an annual occurrence during which volunteers gather to help families build their homes. Read more »