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Do It Yourself: Expert Help for Improving Bobwhite Habitat on Your Land

A northern bobwhite

The northern bobwhite is often referred to as an “edge” species, seeking habitat where crop fields intersect with woodlands, pastures and abandoned lands. NRCS photo by Stephen Kirkpatrick.

If you’re looking to save money around the house, you can find hundreds of helpful videos on a wide variety of “do it yourself” repair and remodeling projects. Social media and other online networking tools can put you in touch with experts to answer your questions along the way.

Well, wildlife habitat can be DIY, too. As a partner biologist with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), I work one-on-one with landowners in Virginia to help them make wildlife-friendly improvements to their property, specifically improvements that benefit the northern bobwhite and associated species. Read more »

Looking to the Future and Learning from the Past in our National Forests

A column of smoke rising from a forest fire

A massive column of smoke rises from a forest fire. Today’s rapidly changing conditions present challenges for forest managers when determining what plant species to replant after a disturbance like a wildland fire. Photo credit: US Forest Service

Forests are changing in ways they’ve never experienced before because today’s growing conditions are different from anything in the past. The climate is changing at an unprecedented rate, exotic diseases and pests are present, and landscapes are fragmented by human activity often occurring at the same time and place.

The current drought in California serves as a reminder and example that forests of the 21st century may not resemble those from the 20th century. When replanting a forest after disturbances, does it make sense to try to reestablish what was there before? Or, should we find re-plant material that might be more appropriate to current and future conditions of a changing environment? Read more »

Military Family Makes Healthy Eating a Priority: Meet Rocio and Her Family

Rocio's family

Rocio and her family sit down to enjoy a healthy dinner together. Eating meals together as a family is one of her MyPlate, MyWins healthy eating solutions.

Making healthy meal choices for your family, especially when you’re on the go like Rocio and her military family, can be rewarding and fun if you have the right tools.  The MyPlate, MyWins video: Meet Rocio features a real-life military family sharing their tips for success. Rocio shows how she and her husband teach their four boys the value of nutrition by preparing meals that feed their sons’ minds and bodies.

Rocio plans ahead and gets the kids involved in the dinner process.  Not only do they enjoy being involved in the meal preparation, but it helps them to know what they are eating, and teaches them the value of nutrition and eating together. Read more »

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Katina Hanson

Katina Hanson, Chief of Staff to the Associate Administrator for Policy and Programs for the Farm Service Agency

Katina Hanson, Chief of Staff to the Associate Administrator for Policy and Programs for the Farm Service Agency

Every month, USDA shares the story of a woman in agriculture who is leading the industry and helping other women succeed along the way. This month, we hear from USDA’s own Katina Hanson, Chief of Staff to the Associate Administrator for Policy and Programs at the Farm Service Agency (FSA).  In addition to her duties as Chief of Staff, Katina led the successful implementation of the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP), a multimillion dollar investment to make renewable fuels more available to consumers across the country. She is also an active member of USDA’s Women in Ag network, serving as co-chair of the FSA chapter and on the USDA Women in Ag Executive Committee. She has a Bachelor of Science in Rangeland Ecology & Management from Texas A&M University and a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Katina grew up on the Gulf Coast of Texas, living on a sailboat until she was 6 and later in a house located between two bayous. Read more »

Louisiana’s Secret Ingredient

Judges deliberating during the Central Louisiana Farm to School Iron Chef Competition

Judges deliberate during the Central Louisiana Farm to School Iron Chef Competition.

On October 22, the newest celebrity chefs of Alexandria, La. gathered at the Inglewood Farm’s Harvest Barn Market to celebrate National Farm to School Month. Their purpose: emerge victorious from the Farm to School Iron Chef Competition.

This competition challenged contestants to create a dish using a “secret ingredient,” in this case sweet potatoes – a fall favorite and regional staple. Each of the four teams sourced sweet potatoes from local farmers in central Louisiana. Students worked alongside parents and teachers to prepare and present their dishes at the market on the day of the competition. The event was organized by the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance (CLEDA). Consisting of economic development entities from ten parishes across Louisiana, CLEDA’s mission is to help people prosper in vibrant, thriving communities. Read more »

Meeting the China E-Commerce Challenge

A Chinese e-commerce site

Digital strategies help promote U.S. food and agricultural products online to Chinese consumers. Since becoming the world’s largest e-commerce market in 2013, online shopping in China has continued to thrive.

In the United States, farming and technology go hand-in-hand in production agriculture. Technology helps improve productivity, efficiency and safety. Now, we’re discovering new ways that technology and digital strategies can offer similar benefits when marketing U.S. farm and food products overseas.

I recently led a group of women agricultural leaders on a trade mission to Shanghai and Hong Kong in China. One of the most interesting things we saw and learned was how e-commerce is paving the way for Chinese consumers to gain quick and easy access to high-value U.S. food and agricultural products. As a young, Chinese shopper explained to me, he purchases nearly 80 percent of his groceries online – skipping the trip to a traditional wet market or Western-style grocery store. Read more »