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Secretary Vilsack Accepts Climate Leadership Award

On April 28, 2015, the American Carbon Registry (ACR) presented Secretary Vilsack with its 2015 Climate Leadership award, intended to recognize an individual whose career commitments to address the changing climate have made a difference and whose example we hope will inspire other individuals to action.

ACR stated that it recognized Secretary Vilsack for his career-long actions as a steward of the environment from his accomplishments as Governor of Iowa to his more recent achievements as Secretary of Agriculture. ACR specifically mentioned the Secretary’s leadership in establishing the USDA Regional Climate Hubs, enabling record enrollments of farmers, ranchers and forest landowners in voluntary climate-beneficial conservation programs, efforts to lower GHG emissions on US dairies through innovative waste-to-energy projects, and work to improve the health and resiliency of forest ecosystems. Read more »

1890 Land Grant University Transform City Kid into Ag School’s Research Leader

Dr. Carolyn Brooks portrait

Dr. Carolyn Brooks had little exposure to agriculture while growing up in the city but, thanks to a love for biology nurtured at a 1890’s Land Grant University, she knows plenty now and even served as dean of the School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, MD.

Like many city kids growing up in Richmond, Va., Carolyn Brooks didn’t know much about agriculture and had never heard of 4-H. That changed quickly, however, as she was the first in her family to graduate from college—earning a B.S. and then a M.S. in biology from one of the foremost agricultural schools in the country, Tuskegee University, where she said, many people “helped me, guided me, and cared about my success.”

Brooks said that before moving to Tuskegee, Ala., she “knew nothing about the South. I had never been in that kind of environment – in a predominantly black community.” Read more »

25 Years Later, Forest Conservation Programs Still Help Keep Our Working Forests Thriving And Working

Senator Patrick Leahy speaking at a commemoration on Capitol Hill

Senator Patrick Leahy, (left, at podium) speaks at a commemoration on Capitol Hill of this year’s 25th anniversary of the Forest Legacy Program and other initiatives that help states and communities conserve forest land. The Senator authored forest conservation programs that he first included in the 1990 Farm Bill, when he chaired the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. Photo courtesy of Jay Tilton, office of Senator Leahy.

Patrick Leahy is Vermont’s senior U.S. senator and led in authoring forest conservation programs that he first included in the 1990 Farm Bill, when he chaired the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.  Robert Bonnie is USDA’s undersecretary for natural resources and environment.  This week they headed a commemoration on Capitol Hill of this year’s 25th anniversary of the Forest Legacy Program and other initiatives that help states and communities conserve forest land.  Wayne Maloney, Office of Communications

Twenty-five years ago, the Senate’s 1990 Leahy-Lugar Farm Bill authorized the creation of three pivotal forestry programs that today are a resounding success.  The Forest Legacy, Forest Stewardship and Urban and Cooperative Forestry Programs help private and state forest landowners keep their forests healthy.  That in turn supports tens of thousands of jobs, benefiting rural and urban communities across the nation.  This week we joined in a celebration in the Capitol Hill Visitors Center marking this milestone. Read more »

Enhancing the Flavor of Food through Plant Breeding

Butternut squash

Plant breeding can lead to new varieties that taste great and are easier to grow, giving you choices if you are growing them or getting them from a farmers market or grocery store.

Vegetables are becoming more flavorful and sustainable through plant breeding. Plant breeding is at the core of the seed-to-table movement—using selective breeding to develop plant varieties that possess exceptional culinary properties and the ability to thrive in a sustainable production system.

One plant variety leading the way in this movement is a series of mini-butternut squash developed by a Cornell University researcher, Michael Mazourek. He began the project as part of a $2.5 million Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) grant awarded to Oregon State University, which resulted in a national network of organic plant breeders, the Northern Vegetable Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC). The grant is funded by National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Read more »

Defining Open Space in the San Gabriel Mountains

West Fork of the San Gabriel River

Winter waters rush through the West Fork of the San Gabriel River. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

The term “open-space” can mean so many different things to an Angelino. It can mean finding a rare open parking spot downtown, finding an open reservation at the newest, trendy restaurant, or it can mean escaping the overwhelming congestion of Greater Los Angeles into its “backyard”: The Angeles National Forest and the newly designated San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.

When Angelinos and tourists from various parts of the world trade the congestion on the highways for the feel of an open trail, it provides relief from the daily grind that lies only 60 minutes away from the metropolitan area. Read more »

Alabama Water Festival Teaches Fourth Graders About Water Conservation

A group of students building a mini-filtration system

A group of students build a mini-filtration system. NRCS photo.

Although it’s no longer her job, Anna Miller still takes time to volunteer for the Lee County Water Festival every spring in Auburn, Alabama. The annual event has attracted hundreds of fourth graders with lessons on aquifers, the water cycle and water filtration, since it first began in 2004.  

“Students learn about their environment; they learn about water and how precious it is,” said Miller. Read more »