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USDA’s Diversity Programs “Open New Doors” for Montana Student

Robert Bruton

Robert G. Bruton was hired as an ARS lab technician after participating in a USDA program that helps train students at tribal colleges – Native Americans and those from other backgrounds – in science and technology. (Photo credit: USDA-ARS)

Robert G. Bruton grew up on the Flathead Indian Reservation in northwestern Montana in a family that, like many others, was severely challenged by the rising college tuition costs. He is not a Native American, but he chose to attend Salish Kootenai Tribal College in Pablo, Montana, in part because of its reasonable cost.

He knew he liked chemistry and his grades were good enough to qualify him to serve as a science and math tutor for fellow students. The school was one of the few tribal colleges nationwide that offered four-year bachelor’s degrees. But as a first-year student, Bruton was like a lot of other people – he wasn’t quite sure what direction his life would take. Read more »

A New Retirement Account Option for Farm Households

Oklahoma farmer Steve Burris feeding Angus cattle on his farm

Oklahoma farmer Steve Burris feeds Angus cattle on his farm, purchased from his father-in-law, who retired after 69 years. myRA, offers retiring farmers and ranchers a simple, safe, and affordable method to start saving for retirement.

In agriculture, retirement can mean something quite different compared with other U.S. households.

Often, our parents and senior relatives on the farm or ranch are far from “retired,” and, in fact, remain active participants in daily operations and decisions. Read more »

Minneapolis School Embraces Family-Style Dining

A woman with students

Sarah, a regular Webster volunteer, enjoys joining kindergarten students for lunch.

How do you create a better lunch experience for students? It all started with a conversation between Ginger Davis Kranz, Principal of Webster Elementary School, and the Minneapolis Public Schools’ Director of Food Service, Bertrand Weber. In September 2016, I was fortunate enough to visit Webster Elementary School in Minneapolis and see for myself how their family-style dining works. I’d like to share Webster Principal Ginger Davis Kranz’s inspiring blog about her school’s innovative and thoughtful approach to the students’ mealtime experience.

By Ginger Davis Kranz, Principal of Webster Elementary School

What if school lunchtime was more than just a wait in line and a race to find a seat and eat, but instead was more like a traditional family meal – a time when friends gather to enjoy their food, engage in meaningful conversation, build relationships and gain important life skills? After reflecting on this question, Webster Elementary, a Minneapolis public school, made the decision to abandon the typical chaotic and impersonal lunchroom experience and create a family-style dining program. Read more »

Seeing is Believing: Soil Health Practices and No-Till Farming Transform Landscapes and Produce Nutritious Food

Before image of Wasco County

Beginning in 1935, the agency helped countless farmers in the region install structures that would reduce soil erosion and prevent sediment from leaving crop fields. Photo: NRCS.

This month, we’re highlighting 12 important gifts given to us when we conserve natural resources: soil, food, plants, wildlife, people, health, protection, recreation, air, water, technology and the future. NRCS’ mission is to conserve the full range of natural resources, but soil health is our foundation. And it’s the first conservation gift that we’re going to highlight. And without soil, we couldn’t celebrate with food. We encourage you to give the gift of conservation this season!

Curbing Soil Erosion

Soil is the foundation for a healthy environment. If you need proof that no-till farming works, look no further than the rolling hills of north-central Oregon.

For decades, this region was dominated by winter wheat farms that used extensive tillage to control weeds during fallow years. It was the conventional way of farming in the area, from the early 1900’s through the 1980’s. Read more »

A Holiday Get Together: Cooking for Friends and Family

The FoodKeeper app on an iPhone

The FoodKeeper app on an iPhone

The holidays are a time for celebrating with family and friends. Office parties, holiday buffets and potluck dinners offer great opportunities to exchange gifts and goodwill. But if food is not properly handled, they can also be a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria that causes foodborne illnesses. Following the recommendations below will help keep foodborne bacteria off of your menu. Read more »

One-Stop Shopping for Federal Scientific Collections

The USDA Nematode Collection

The USDA Nematode Collection is one of the largest and most valuable in existence. Online listings of more than 38,000 specimens are among dozens of important scientific collections that USDA makes available on the Internet. Photo credit: USDA

Federal agencies act as custodians of hundreds of diverse scientific collections that contain everything from plant and animal specimens, tissues, and DNA to microbes, minerals, and moonrocks. These collections are part of the country’s science infrastructure, and support work in fields that include public health and safety, agriculture, trade, homeland security, medical research, trade, and environmental monitoring.

Agencies have been working to improve access to information about these collections and expand opportunities for their use. Now, through a joint effort between the USDA and Smithsonian Institution, an Interagency Working Group on Scientific Collections (IWGSC) has been cataloging them in a newly established Registry of U.S. Federal Scientific Collections (USFSC) managed by the Smithsonian. Read more »