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USDA, Federal Partners, and Foundations Collaborating to Promote Strategic Regional Economic Opportunities

Memphis is emerging as a metro region where rural and urban economic opportunities suggest the need for meaningful collaborative activities. Recently, USDA staff participated in a gathering of community development workshop in Memphis where rural leaders gathered to share challenges and successes with urban counterparts. The event was sponsored by the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO), the Delta Regional Authority, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities.

Beginning in 2010, HUD began providing three-year Regional Planning grants to groups that were interested in developing long-range community plans that would help guide future federal investments in a more strategic manner. A number of those grants have been provided to communities in the Mississippi Delta region, and last week’s meeting gave the Delta Region grantees a chance to share successes and challenges of their efforts. Read more »

Forestry Students Vie for a Trip to Russia

The International Jr. Foresters’ Competition is an annual event hosted by the Russian Federal Forestry Agency.  It promotes and rewards young scientists for their interest and efforts in the environmental field and encourages international dialogue about forestry issues.

Individual youth ages 16-20 submit projects on topics such as forest science and silviculture, wildlife ecology and plant ecology. Projects will be presented to an international panel of judges (each contestant will give a 10-minute presentation) to compete for public recognition and valuable prizes. Read more »

Illinois FSA Grants Wish to 5-Year-Old Cancer Survivor

Five-year-old Joe Joe Charles celebrates being named “Cowboy Of The Year.” Photo by Bob Haentzler

Five-year-old Joe Joe Charles celebrates being named “Cowboy Of The Year.” Photo by Bob Haentzler

He didn’t want to go to Disney World or meet his favorite superhero. All 5-year-old Joe Joe Charles wished for was one day where he could be a farmer and a cowboy.

It was a wish that FSA County Executive Director Linda Mathews and the Make-A-Wish Foundation brought to life.

“Joe Joe is the first child that had a wish to be a farmer or cowboy for a day,” said Stephanie Hampton-Boeglin, director of Mission Delivery for Make-A-Wish Missouri, “It’s the best wish I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of.” Read more »

Parental Employment, Education, and Disability are Factors in Food Insecurity among Children

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.

In the wake of the economic downturn that began in late 2007, food insecurity in households with children remains near the highest level observed since monitoring began in 1995. In 2011, 20.6 percent of U.S. households with children were food insecure—unable at some time during the year to acquire adequate food for one or more members due to insufficient money or other resources for food.  In about half of those households, only adults experienced reduced food quality or quantity, but in 10 percent of all households with children, one or more of the children were also affected.

Food security is especially important for children because the foods they eat—or don’t eat—affect not only their current health and well-being, but also their development and future health. Studies suggest that children in food-insecure households are more likely to have negative health and development outcomes than children in otherwise similar food-secure households, such as poorer health, more frequent colds, and lower math and reading achievement. Read more »

USDA Redoubles Efforts to Provide Safe, Affordable Housing on a South Dakota Reservation

Crow Creek MOU signing – Pictured left to right are Bruce Jones,  USDA Rural Development Acting Housing Director; Brandon Sazue Sr., Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Chairman;  Leeann Piskule, Crow Creek Housing Authority Residential Services Coordinator; Paula Corcoran,  USDA Rural Development Loan Specialist; Lori Moen, GROW South Dakota Chief Operating Officer; Ronnette Kirkie-Walton, Crow Creek Housing Authority Acting Chief Executive Officer; Terry Abernathy,  Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Secretary; and Wayne McGhee Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Councilman.

Crow Creek MOU signing – Pictured left to right are Bruce Jones, USDA Rural Development Acting Housing Director; Brandon Sazue Sr., Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Chairman; Leeann Piskule, Crow Creek Housing Authority Residential Services Coordinator; Paula Corcoran, USDA Rural Development Loan Specialist; Lori Moen, GROW South Dakota Chief Operating Officer; Ronnette Kirkie-Walton, Crow Creek Housing Authority Acting Chief Executive Officer; Terry Abernathy, Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Secretary; and Wayne McGhee Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Councilman.

Recently, Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Chairman Brandon Sazue Sr.  joined USDA Rural Development Acting Housing Director Bruce Jones and Lori Moen, Chief Operating Officer for GROW South Dakota (GROW) in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding that will streamline the process towards increased homeownership on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation.  “What we do today can make a difference for tomorrow.  By working together, we support the betterment of our Tribe as we know housing is much needed on our Reservation” said Chairman Sazue Sr. Read more »

Wetland Conservation: Good for Nature, Good for the Soul

Taylor Moore (left) and his father Murry Moore. Photo by Mark Dorsett.

Taylor Moore (left) and his father Murry Moore. Photo by Mark Dorsett.

Maybe it’s Murry Moore’s profession as a funeral director that inspires him to put tired land to rest, but his restoration efforts of nearly 700 acres on the banks of the Obion River in western Tennessee has ensured a peaceful home for wildlife.

In the early 1950s, Moore’s parents bought the tract, and for years afterward they cleared it for timber. Later, Murry and his brother Dean began row cropping. Year after year, the land was flooded by the Obion and eroded bit by bit, leaving a field of unproductive crops and frustrated farmers. Read more »