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How to NOT Give Your Office Food Poisoning at the Holiday Party

Most offices host some sort of get-together this time of year and you may be asked to bring a dish. If you’re not bringing food to the office, you may be bringing something to another get-together with family or friends. Follow these tips to be sure your diners remember your nice contribution, instead of a naughty case of food poisoning. Read more »

Armchair Travelers Get a Close-Up Look of Southern Appalachian Waters

A pioneering snorkeling program on the Cherokee National Forest entices students to suit up in wet suits and snorkels.  As they immerse themselves in the clean, clear waters protected by the forest, the young visitors discover the amazing aquatic biodiversity that lies beneath including  a male (the long fingernails are diagnostic) Hieroglyphic River Cooter turtle seen in this photo.  (Photo courtesy of Dave Herasimtschuk © Freshwaters Illustrated)

A pioneering snorkeling program on the Cherokee National Forest entices students to suit up in wet suits and snorkels. As they immerse themselves in the clean, clear waters protected by the forest, the young visitors discover the amazing aquatic biodiversity that lies beneath including a male (the long fingernails are diagnostic) Hieroglyphic River Cooter turtle seen in this photo. (Photo courtesy of Dave Herasimtschuk © Freshwaters Illustrated)

Deep into the Cherokee National Forest on the headwaters of the Conasauga River, an innovative river conservation program brings thousands of citizen snorkelers to the vibrant waters of Southern Appalachia.  Now armchair travelers can enjoy this experience via a six-minute online film.

“A Deeper Creek – The Watchable Waters of Southern Appalachia,” produced by Freshwaters Illustrated in partnership with the Forest Service, takes the viewer to a pool in the river’s headwaters in southern Tennessee and northwest Georgia. The flowing waters teem with 70 species of fish and a dozen species of freshwater mussels and enjoys a “virtual” snorkeling experience. Read more »

Conservation Programs Help Nebraska Farmer Install, Improve Irrigation System

Center pivot irrigation systems use less water and are more efficient at uniformly distributing water across a field. NRCS photo by Jacob Robison.

Center pivot irrigation systems use less water and are more efficient at uniformly distributing water across a field. NRCS photo by Jacob Robison.

As a little girl, Mary Kay Lyon followed her father around their south central Nebraska farm always dreaming of one day owning the operation herself. Lyon left the farm to attend college, but eventually made it back home when her father retired, determined to run the family farm.

“I wanted to farm since I was old enough to walk,” Lyon said.

Lyon grows corn and soybeans and raises cattle on the farm. Upon her return, she immediately began looking for ways to make improvements. Their crops have always been watered through an irrigation system, but Lyon knew improvements were needed on the old water delivery system. Read more »

Five Cs of Arizona

American Indian operators run more than half of all farms in AZ, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture. Check back next week for another close-up of another state’s agriculture scene from the 2012 Census.

American Indian operators run more than half of all farms in AZ, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture. Check back next week for another close-up of another state’s agriculture scene from the 2012 Census.

The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.

For decades, school children in Arizona have been taught the five Cs: Copper, Cattle, Cotton, Citrus, and Climate. These five C’s have been the driving force behind Arizona’s economy, and gave economic security to past generations and hope to many generations. However, all that is changing. Arizona, like the rest of the country, is undergoing an economic transformation. Arizona is moving from a mining and agriculturally oriented economy, to a high-technology and service-based economy. This is changing the patterns of where Arizonans live and work.

Three of Arizona’s Cs – cattle, cotton, and citrus – were counted in the most recent Census of Agriculture and the results showed that they are still economically significant. The value of cattle, cotton and citrus production that was sold in 2012 totaled nearly $940 million, excluding the more than $760 million in milk sales. Total market value of all agricultural products sold topped $3.7 billion. Read more »

Even Paul Bunyan is Overshadowed by the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree – and a Precious 10-year-old Boy

Aaron Urban, front, poses with his four siblings, his parents, Jeremy and Leisha, and Speaker of the House John Boehner before the ceremony to light the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. Aaron, who is battling brain cancer, was given the honor after efforts by Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic, who also is helping to fulfill his wish of spending the holidays in New York City. (Photo courtesy Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic)

Aaron Urban, front, poses with his four siblings, his parents, Jeremy and Leisha, and Speaker of the House John Boehner before the ceremony to light the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. Aaron, who is battling brain cancer, was given the honor after efforts by Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic, who also is helping to fulfill his wish of spending the holidays in New York City. (Photo courtesy Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic)

A foggy mist did not deter a crowd of onlookers, politicians and U.S. Forest Service employees as a 10-year-old Maryland boy in a wheelchair enveloped by warm blankets flipped the switch to light the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree on the West Front lawn of the nation’s Capital.

C-SPAN recorded the event, including the moment when Speaker of the House John Boehner handed the controls to Aaron Urban, who flipped the switch on the 88-foot white spruce from Minnesota. The ceremony culminated more than a year of work to find, select, harvest and transport the tree found on the Chippewa National Forest. Children from that state made more than 10,000 ornaments – many of them dream catchers in the tradition of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwa. Read more »

Local Food, Local Places: Bringing Expertise and Creative Thinking to Community Economic Development

Cross-posted from the White House Rural Council blog:

Around the country, communities are seeking creative approaches to integrating entrepreneurship, environmental management, public health, and other place-based considerations into successful economic planning. Local food development can be one strategy.

The White House Rural Council and six federal agencies have selected 26 communities to participate in Local Foods, Local Places, a federal initiative providing direct technical support and expertise to community partners integrating local food systems into regional economic action plans. Under this effort, a team of federal agricultural, transportation, environmental, public health, and regional economic experts will work directly with communities to develop specific local food projects. These efforts will make a significant impact in the communities participating in the Local Foods, Local Places initiative. Read more »