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Celebrating Grey Towers’ Golden Anniversary

The Pinchot legacy continues for future generations with programs offered at Grey Towers. Credit: US Forest Service, Grey Towers NHS

The Pinchot legacy continues for future generations with programs offered at Grey Towers. Credit: US Forest Service, Grey Towers NHS

A beautiful, blue stone mansion with its slate roof and turrets, known as Grey Towers, in Milford, Pa. has been a sanctuary for visitors from around the world to learn about conservation and natural resources.

Fifty years ago on Sept. 24, 1963, President John F. Kennedy dedicated the Grey Towers National Historic Site and the Pinchot Institute for Conservation Studies as a “living memorial” to America’s first forester and two-term Pennsylvania governor, Gifford Pinchot. Read more »

Back to School with Statistics, Join USDA’s Virtual Open House

A new academic year is here for millions of students and teachers across the country, and in spirit of the many back to school nights and open houses taking place, I’m encouraging you to explore USDA’s International Year of Statistics Virtual Open House.

The International Year of Statistics, sponsored by more than 2,000 organizations – including the USDA – is a worldwide event to help teach everyone about the powerful and far-reaching effects of statistics. When people hear the word “statistics,” they often think of sports statistics or the course they took and struggled to pass. While you can think of statistics in these terms, there is more to the relationship between you and statistics than you may imagine. Read more »

Cover Crops Help Young Farmer Thrive

Russell Wire, a northwest Illinois farmer, found cover crops to be an excellent option for his operation. His cattle enjoy grazing quality forage, and his soil health is improving as well.

Russell Wire, a northwest Illinois farmer, found cover crops to be an excellent option for his operation. His cattle enjoy grazing quality forage, and his soil health is improving as well.

At age 8, Russell Wire knew he liked agriculture. That was when he raised some beef cattle for a 4-H project, eventually turning that project into a herd of 40.

This natural affinity makes sense—Wire, who lives in northwest Illinois, comes from a farm family. The 28-year-old is actually a fifth-generation farmer.

Since 2005, Wire has worked 40 acres of pastureland, and he’s grown corn on another 50 acres since 2011. Recently he decided to incorporate cover crops into his operation to provide more forage for his herd, prevent erosion and improve soil health. Read more »

Forest Service Reaches Latinos through Legacy Program

More than 1,500 inner-city youth from Houston Independent School District gather over a week-long period at Jones State Forest – Children’s Forest each year to participate in the annual Exploring Houston’s Backyard. The Bosque Móvil-Forest Mobile is one tool the U.S. Forest Service’s Latino Legacy program uses to provide learning experience around Texas.

More than 1,500 inner-city youth from Houston Independent School District gather over a week-long period at Jones State Forest – Children’s Forest each year to participate in the annual Exploring Houston’s Backyard. The Bosque Móvil-Forest Mobile is one tool the U.S. Forest Service’s Latino Legacy program uses to provide learning experience around Texas.

Roughly a decade ago, Tamberly Conway impulsively agreed to leave Key West, Fla., with a friend to serve as crew members on a 47-foot sailboat with a captain they barely knew. But somewhere between Key West and Guatemala, she began reevaluating her decision.

They got off the boat in Guatemala and spent the next year absorbing the Latino culture and Spanish language. She turned that unexpected experience into helping the U.S. Forest Service reach out to the Latino community. Along with her multiple degrees in natural resources, Conway connects Latinos to the natural world around them through such programs as Latino Legacy. Read more »

Partnership and Investment on Health IT Week

Nurse Jennifer Witting stands beside newly installed telemedicine equipment at the Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital in Laurium, MI in June 2012. The Aspirus Health Foundation, Inc. received two Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development (RD) DLT Program, that enabled Aspirus to grow their Telehealth infrastructure into communities in north-central Wisconsin and the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan. USDA photo.

Nurse Jennifer Witting stands beside newly installed telemedicine equipment at the Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital in Laurium, MI in June 2012. The Aspirus Health Foundation, Inc. received two Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development (RD) DLT Program, that enabled Aspirus to grow their Telehealth infrastructure into communities in north-central Wisconsin and the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan. USDA photo.

This week at USDA we are celebrating National Health IT week by highlighting USDA’s ongoing efforts to expand modern health care access to rural America. Yesterday, we announced two new steps to improve health care for rural Americans – both through new investments in health infrastructure and ongoing interagency partnerships designed to better focus Federal efforts on rural health care.

USDA is expanding a partnership with HHS and the Department of Veterans Affairs, as part of our work together on the White House Rural Council, to leverage funds and other efforts that will support advanced health care technology in rural hospitals. This partnership is an extension of a successful pilot launched in five states – Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi and Texas – to identify rural critical access hospitals in persistent poverty areas in need of advanced health care technology. For example, during the pilot phase of this partnership, the USDA Rural Development Iowa State Office, the Iowa Regional Health IT Extension Center (REC) and the Iowa State Office of Rural Health convened the first Iowa Rural Health IT Forum to expand care for Critical Access Hospitals. Read more »

Are Frogs on the Edge of Survival?

The very existence of frogs worldwide is being threatened by a killer fungus. Photo Credit: National Science Foundation

The very existence of frogs worldwide is being threatened by a killer fungus. Photo Credit: National Science Foundation

A lethal fungus is killing frogs and other water-dwelling amphibians all over the world, but a team of international scientists led by U.S. Forest Service scientist Deanna Olson is working to understand why.

Olson, who works at the agency’s Pacific Northwest Research Station, and her colleagues have the daunting task of tracking the disease, known as the amphibian chytrid fungus. Unlike the clearly visible white-nose syndrome killing bats in the U.S., the frog fungus cannot be seen except with a microscope. That makes scientists’ jobs that much more difficult.

Since the discovery of the malady is so recent, scientists still don’t understand a great deal about the fungus except that it affects the skin and ultimately leads to cardiac arrest in amphibians. Read more »