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Secretary’s Column: Creating Modern Solutions to Environmental Challenges

Our farmers and ranchers are the most productive on earth, largely due to their innovation and their ability to adapt to new challenges. As new threats emerge for American agriculture, USDA will be there to provide assistance – and this week, we announced new steps to help producers create solutions to meet modern environmental threats.

We’re already seeing these new challenges emerge. Last year was the second most intense year in our history for extreme weather events. It was also the warmest on record for the continental United States. Read more »

Little People’s Garden Teaches Big Life Lesson

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. This Chinese proverb is the idea behind the Little People’s Garden in Montevideo, Minnesota.

“Children need to know where their food comes from,” said Liz Ludwig, Farm Service Agency county executive director.  “It’s not made in a factory; it’s grown in the soil, raised by farmers and ranchers, and cared for by people we call farmers.”

Initiated by Ludwig, the Little People’s Garden — now in its fourth year — was planted at Kinder Kare learning center in Montevideo, providing preschoolers a hands-on opportunity to learn where their food comes from and how to make healthy food choices. Read more »

USDA Community Connect Project Brings the World to a Rural Ohio Village

Pennsylvania Law School student Levi Morris, shown with his mother, Becky, can now continue his education from home thanks to the broadband service provided to his town through the USDA Community Connect program. USDA photos by Heather Hartley.

Pennsylvania Law School student Levi Morris, shown with his mother, Becky, can now continue his education from home thanks to the broadband service provided to his town through the USDA Community Connect program. USDA photos by Heather Hartley.

It’s long been said, “You can’t go home again.” It looks like someone forgot to tell Levi Morris!

Morris, 24, is a law school student at the University of Pennsylvania in big-city Philadelphia. But he was raised in the tiny Southeast Ohio village of Stafford; nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in rural Monroe County. He says he loves Philadelphia and may even choose an urban lifestyle once he graduates, but right now, his heart is in Ohio. Read more »

A Father’s Day Tribute: The Time My Dad Took My Class on a Hike in the Woods

Noah Scott and his father Andy, a scientist with the U.S. Forest Service.

Noah Scott and his father Andy, a scientist with the U.S. Forest Service.

Recently, U.S. Forest Service scientist Andy Scott took his son’s first-grade class on a nature hike to talk about forestry, soil, and anything else the kids wanted to know. They walked along the newly created Bradford Creek Greenway behind Heritage Elementary School in Madison, Ala. Noah captured the day beautifully. We offer his words as our tribute to Father’s Day.

My Dad came to my classroom before we went outside. He told us to walk only on the path because there was poison ivy off the path and a lot of people thought everything with three leaves was poison ivy.

When we went outside we got to see some leaves from trees and my Dad told us what kind they were. One was pine, one was sweet gum, and one was sassafras. It smelled good when you crumbled it up. Then we found out how you tell how old a tree is. Read more »

Helicopters and Bird Strikes; Results from First Analysis Available Online

Bird strikes to civil and military helicopters resulted in 61 human injuries and 11 lost lives since 1990. As with fixed-winged aircraft, bird strikes to helicopters are costly.  Available data showed the average cost of a damaging strike to military helicopters ranged from $12,184 to $337,281 per incident, and APHIS-Wildlife Services (WS) wants to address this problem.

More than a dozen stakeholders representing both civil and military aviation groups, safety and regulatory agencies, and wildlife specialists turned out for the May 15th USDA-APHIS stakeholders meeting to hear results from the first scientific analysis of bird-strike hazards to helicopters. Read more »

Community Cooperative Market Provides Alaskans with Fresh, Local Food

A new Co-op Market and Deli, centrally located in a former Fairbanks grocery store, is open for business with support from USDA and the Golden Valley Electric Association. Photos by Jane Gibson, USDA.

A new Co-op Market and Deli, centrally located in a former Fairbanks grocery store, is open for business with support from USDA and the Golden Valley Electric Association. Photos by Jane Gibson, USDA.

Alaska’s first member-owned community grocery store is open for business. The Fairbanks Community Cooperative Market was partially funded by the USDA Rural Economic Development Loans and Grants (REDLG) program.

Making this project possible was the Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA), a USDA borrower since 1949.  GVEA is the grantee that was awarded a REDLG to fund a revolving loan which was used to help establish the Market. USDA Rural Development Alaska State Director Jim Nordlund traveled to Fairbanks last month to join with community, volunteers and founders in the grand opening of the new Market.   The store has already provided more than 20 new local jobs for residents. Read more »