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USDA Officials Highlight StrikeForce at South Dakota Indian Business Alliance Conference

Tawney Brunsch, Executive Director of the Native CDFI, Lakota Fund with USDA Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks at the StrikeForce conference. USDA photos

Tawney Brunsch, Executive Director of the Native CDFI, Lakota Fund with USDA Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks at the StrikeForce conference. USDA photos

South Dakota USDA officials recently highlighted the StrikeForce initiative at the bi-annual South Dakota Indian Business Alliance Conference held in Rapid City.  The conference with the theme of, “Building Opportunities in the New Native America,” was a perfect opportunity to announce South Dakota USDA’s focus on increasing partnerships and leveraging resources on South Dakota tribal lands. Read more »

Women Farmers: One Million Strong

In the four years I’ve served as Deputy Secretary, I’ve talked with thousands of women in agriculture – from young women thinking about entering farming to older women who have been tilling the soil for decades.  Each of their stories is powerful on its own.  But taken together, they have been an inspiration to the entire country. And today, we know that there are nearly one million of these stories around the country – nearly one million women farming and ranching on America’s working lands.

A study released today by USDA’s Economic Research Service, Characteristics of Women Farm Operators and Their Farms found that the number of women-operated farms more than doubled between 1982 and 2007. When all women involved with farming are added up – including primary and secondary operators – they are nearly one million strong and account for 30% of U.S. farmers. Read more »

Celebrating the Civilian Conservation Corps

Scouts from Boy Scouts of America Troop 88 dig a hole for a new interpretative sign. (Forest Service photo/Tiffany Holloway)

Scouts from Boy Scouts of America Troop 88 dig a hole for a new interpretative sign. (Forest Service photo/Tiffany Holloway)

On a recent cool, crisp spring morning in the mountains of Virginia, the Boy Scouts of America Troop 88 followed in the footsteps of the first “boys” of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the CCC.

The first CCC camp, Camp Roosevelt, was established April 17, 1933 at the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. Over time, the forest had 14 camps. Read more »

Students Demonstrate Innovation at White House Science Fair

President Barack Obama talks with Evan Jackson, 10, Alec Jackson, 8, and Caleb Robinson, 8, from McDonough, Ga., while looking at exhibits at the White House Science Fair in the State Dining Room, April 22, 2013. The sports-loving grade-schoolers created a new product concept to keep athletes cool and helps players maintain safe body temperatures on the field. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Barack Obama talks with Evan Jackson, 10, Alec Jackson, 8, and Caleb Robinson, 8, from McDonough, Ga., while looking at exhibits at the White House Science Fair in the State Dining Room, April 22, 2013. The sports-loving grade-schoolers created a new product concept to keep athletes cool and helps players maintain safe body temperatures on the field. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

As a kid, I didn’t quite grasp the science behind a game of hopscotch or ball and jacks.  It was later in life that I learned the scientific principles behind my childhood fun. Today, in an era of high-definition video games and 3-dimensional TV’s, it’s more challenging than ever to keep kids motivated to have fun through exploration and discovery.  But Monday’s 3rd Annual White House Science Fair made me very hopeful once again. Read more »

Arbor Day a Celebration of Trees

A forest visitor admires an old growth forest on the Mt. Hood National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

A forest visitor admires an old growth forest on the Mt. Hood National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

The U.S. Forest Service wants you to remember the last time you lay on the grass and looked up and were inspired by tree branches swaying in the breeze—or when you sat under an old oak tree feeling the rough bark of its trunk against your back. If you can’t remember, or you’ve never done these things you should because according to the Arbor Day Foundation, America has the “grandest trees on earth – the largest, the oldest and some of the most magnificent.”

Today, April 26, is National Arbor Day. Take a moment to celebrate trees and all they provide for us. Read more »

Volunteer Ken Lair Puts Conservation First

Ken Lair teaches a group of student volunteers about conservation. (Photo courtesy Jackie Lindgren)

Ken Lair teaches a group of student volunteers about conservation. (Photo courtesy Jackie Lindgren)

At 6’6”, Ken Lair is a gentle giant of conservation. Shaking off injuries and setbacks that would have stopped a lesser man, Lair volunteers his expertise to lead several projects for the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Lair, who holds a doctorate in restoration ecology, spent the majority of his federal career with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation and NRCS. After retiring, Lair continued to work with NRCS in California as a consultant. Read more »