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CDFI – Important Part of Infrastructure

The 8th Annual Governor’s Native American Summit was held last week at Utah Valley University in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Utah’s Rural Development State Director Wilson “David” Conine wanted to share with attendees the importance a community development financial institution (CDFI) can play in tribal development.  He turned to his counterpart, South Dakota Rural Development State Director Elsie M. Meeks who has over 20 years of experience working for Native community economic development.

Meeks recognized CDFI as an important part of the infrastructure for delivering consistent funding for housing and small business development activities that benefit low and moderate income people.  They combine multiple sources of public and private capital in order to make loans and investments available in ways tailored to the particular underserved geographies and types of businesses or borrowers.  Developing capacity among these types of organizations can increase utilization of USDA programs in a region, many of which provide long-term below-market capital for permanent improvements in rural areas. Read more »

The Track & Field Fuel-Up Challenge! Summer Fun that Helps Kids Learn

This is a screen capture from the Track & Field Fuel-Up Challenge online game for kids. The Track & Field Fuel-Up Challenge teaches moms and children about healthy habits and provides practical ways they can incorporate them.

This is a screen capture from the Track & Field Fuel-Up Challenge online game for kids. The Track & Field Fuel-Up Challenge teaches moms and children about healthy habits and provides practical ways they can incorporate them.

It’s summer time! And kids’ thoughts naturally turn to ways to have fun and enjoy themselves! Moms, on the other hand, want kids to continue to learn and develop their skills while they enjoy the lazy days of summer.  The Track & Field Fuel-Up Challenge is an online game that meets the needs of moms and kids. The game inspires kids to jump into good nutrition and have fun while learning. It also helps kids to make good food choices and encourages them to be physically active between events to warm them up for the next challenge and to celebrate!

In this online game from USDA, kids pick their player and progress through four track and field events including the javelin, high jump, long jump, and the dash. To win, players must quickly pick the right answer to questions about healthy eating and nutrition. As players advance from one event to the next, they are encouraged to be active: “Now jump up and down five times to celebrate!” When kids answer correctly, their players get a medal at the end of the game. Questions are randomly selected so kids can play multiple times to get a better score or “go for the gold” on the winner’s stand. Read more »

Forest Service Hosts National Boy Scout Jamboree

Boy Scouts work on pulp and paper merit badge at the Forest Service exhibit. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Boy Scouts work on pulp and paper merit badge at the Forest Service exhibit. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Did you know the U.S. Forest Service has a long connection to the Boy Scouts of America? Roughly 78 percent of Forest Service employees were Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts in their youth; and many scouting projects, including Eagle Scout projects, take place on national forests or grasslands.

“The Boy Scouts of America is a longtime valued partner of the Forest Service,” said DeVela J. Clark, deputy forest supervisor on the Monongahela National Forest. “Scouts have assisted our National Forests and Grasslands with numerous conservation service projects across the country.”

The Forest Service has been a part of the National Boy Scout Jamboree since 1964, when the Jamboree was held at Valley Forge, Pa. Read more »

Appeal of Diverse Side of Ag Statistics

Troy Joshua (left) visited Matty Matarazzo’s (right) farm. Matarazzo owns and operates the Four Sisters Winery in Belvidere, N.J.

Troy Joshua (left) visited Matty Matarazzo’s (right) farm. Matarazzo owns and operates the Four Sisters Winery in Belvidere, N.J.

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.

2013 is the International Year of Statistics. As part of this global event, every month this year USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will profile careers of individuals who are making significant contributions to improve agricultural statistics in the United States.

Growing up in the rural community of St. James, Louisiana, I always had a passion for agriculture. In 1992, I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Business from Southern University A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and earned a Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from Washington State University two years later.

For my master’s thesis, I created an economic model analyzing the profitability of the Washington state asparagus industry. To get the data for my thesis, I created and mailed questionnaires, editing and analyzing all of the responses. This experience sparked my interest in the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), and I joined the agency’s California Field Office in 1994. Read more »

Smokey Bear Pauses from Routine to Distribute Awards

Hi there! Smokey Bear here. We all know that bears love to hang out in the forests, but as our Nation’s symbol for wildfire prevention, I don’t get to do that as much as I’d like. So I’m really excited to tell you about a trip I recently made to the woods of Pennsylvania.

I went to the Boy Scouts of America Camp Karoondinha to help present a Bronze Smokey Bear Award to Pennsylvania State fire wardens for their “Wardens Helping in Prevention” program. Read more »

From an Idaho Youth Loan to National Youth Leader

Shane Kerner used an FSA Rural Youth Loan to purchase cattle, including her ‘best show’ heifer shown here. From that point, she built a thriving commercial herd.

Shane Kerner used an FSA Rural Youth Loan to purchase cattle, including her ‘best show’ heifer shown here. From that point, she built a thriving commercial herd.

Shane Kerner applied for her first USDA Farm Service Agency Rural Youth Loan at age 14. Now, at age 20, she not only reached adulthood, but financial independence to grow what was once a 4-H project into a thriving cattle operation.

“I never thought I would get as far as I am today with my cattle,” said Shane. “It is truly a privilege to have the opportunity to start at a young age and see the growth of your animals from seed stock to a small commercial herd, right outside your door.”

Shane refers to her operation as a passion for finding the highest genetics for breeding Angus cattle. With the proceeds from the sale of seven grass-fed calves she purchased with the youth loan, she bought more cattle, including her best show heifer. This started the foundation for growing a registered Angus herd. Read more »