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The US Forest Service and International Day of Forests

Tree planting in Kfardebian, Mount Lebanon. (Photo Credit: Lebanon Reforestation Initiative)

Tree planting in Kfardebian, Mount Lebanon. (Photo Credit: Lebanon Reforestation Initiative)

Since 2013, the United Nations (UN) has selected March 21 to be the unique day that the world thinks about the importance of trees. The U.S. Forest Service celebrates the International Day of Forests by bringing awareness about our involvement with international partners to continue to protect the health of forest worldwide.

For instance in the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean country of Lebanon, the power of one symbolic cedar tree, the image on the country’s flag, captures the promise and strength of an entire nation. Read more »

Keeping our Promise in Kentucky

USDA Under Secretary Lisa Mensah meets with Keith Gabbard, General Manager of Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative in McKee, Ky., on March 3, 2015. Gabbard described the company’s successful “fiber-to-the-premise” broadband project, which was funded in part with loan and grant funds from USDA’s Broadband Initiatives Program. As a result of the project, PRTC was awarded with a Smart Rural Community designation from the National Telephone Cooperative Association.

USDA Under Secretary Lisa Mensah meets with Keith Gabbard, General Manager of Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative in McKee, Ky., on March 3, 2015. Gabbard described the company’s successful “fiber-to-the-premise” broadband project, which was funded in part with loan and grant funds from USDA’s Broadband Initiatives Program. As a result of the project, PRTC was awarded with a Smart Rural Community designation from the National Telephone Cooperative Association.

During my trip to Kentucky, I was truly gratified to see Rural Development’s footprint throughout small towns spread across all regions of the Commonwealth. From water lines, broadband networks, wastewater treatment plants, single and multi-family housing, electric lines, senior centers, hospitals and small businesses, Rural Development helps build communities from the ground up working in partnership with local groups.

Last year, 73 Kentucky counties enduring some of the state’s toughest economic challenges were designated to receive targeted USDA support through USDA’s StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity Initiative. Soon thereafter, President Obama designated a region of eight counties in the state’s southeast corner as one of the country’s first five Promise Zones.  Under these designations, USDA works with local partners to leverage federal resources to address the area’s chronic poverty challenges and improve the overall quality of life in the region. Read more »

Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Sees the Power of Partnership in Urban Flood Control

Flood control and prevention tour participants (L-R) NRCS State Engineer Tim Haakenstad, NRD Assistant General Manager Marlin Petermann, Under Secretary Robert Bonnie, State Conservationist Craig Derickson and NRCS District Conservationist Neil Jensen. NRCS photo.

Flood control and prevention tour participants (L-R) NRCS State Engineer Tim Haakenstad, NRD Assistant General Manager Marlin Petermann, Under Secretary Robert Bonnie, State Conservationist Craig Derickson and NRCS District Conservationist Neil Jensen. NRCS photo.

The saying, “When it rains, it pours,” can often apply to the heavy rain events in Omaha, Neb. where flooding is a concern. Due to the large amount of hard surfaces – roofs, parking lots, streets, etc. – a lot of the rainfall doesn’t soak into the ground. This generates runoff, which can quickly lead to flooding.

On a recent tour, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie was able to see firsthand how the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) flood control projects are helping to protect lives and property in Omaha. Read more »

Celebrate National Nutrition Month at Work!

USDA nutritionists host worksite wellness events for their colleagues during National Nutrition Month and throughout the year.

USDA nutritionists host worksite wellness events for their colleagues during National Nutrition Month and throughout the year.

In honor of National Nutrition Month®, MyPlate is sharing resources to help you bite into a healthy lifestyle everywhere you go! This blog highlights resources related to healthy eating at work. Learn about healthy eating at home here.

Practice healthy habits at work!  Throughout the work day, find ways to eat healthy and be active. Whether you pack your lunch or grab takeout, make half your plate fruits and vegetables and choose whole-grain when available. Keep healthy snacks on hand, such as low-fat yogurt, a trail mix of dried fruit and unsalted nuts, or hummus dip and veggies, to help you resist the office candy bowl when hunger strikes. It’s also important to make time to be active, especially if you spend most of the workday seated at a desk. Take activity breaks or schedule walking meetings with your colleagues. Healthy choices like these will keep you energized and able to put your best foot forward. Read more »

Tennessee Farmers Play Strong Role in State’s Economy

The Volunteer State’s motto is “Agriculture and Commerce,” and the results of the 2012 Census of Agriculture show why.  Check back next Thursday for another look at another state and the 2012 Census results.

The Volunteer State’s motto is “Agriculture and Commerce,” and the results of the 2012 Census of Agriculture show why. Check back next Thursday for another look at another state and the 2012 Census results.

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.

Since 1801, Tennessee’s motto has been “Agriculture and Commerce,” and as we see in the latest Census of Agriculture results, our farmers do their part to stay true to it. In 2012, our state’s farmers and ranchers sold more than $3.6 billion worth of agricultural products.

Cattle is the largest sector of Tennessee’s farming industry. More than half of our state’s 68,050 farms raise cattle. The 2012 Ag Census counted more than 1.8 million head of cattle on 38,826 farms. Of these farms, 979 focused on dairy while 33,556 were beef cattle farms. This is also why our farmers spent nearly $680 million on feed purchases in 2012. Feed was by far the largest expense for our farmers in 2012. Read more »

Hoop Houses in Nevada Elementary Schools to Help ‘Plant a Seed’ in Young Minds for Healthy Eating

Lisa Maslach, school counselor; Judy Halterman, Veggies for Kids Program; and Staci Emm, with the Extension, discuss planting techniques and strategies at Yerington Elementary School. NRCS photo by Heather Emmons.

Lisa Maslach, school counselor; Judy Halterman, Veggies for Kids Program; and Staci Emm, with the Extension, discuss planting techniques and strategies at Yerington Elementary School. NRCS photo by Heather Emmons.

Above the sounds of whirring drills and nails being hammered into wood planks, squeals of excitement and oohs and ahhs emanated from Yerington Elementary School students as they filed past the hoop house being built on their way to the lunchroom.

March is National Nutrition Month, so it only seems fitting that three rural elementary schools in Nevada had hoop houses installed in late February and early March as part of a partnership among USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and Urban Roots Americorps. Read more »