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Training the Next Generation of Watershed Managers to Fight Drought

Student interns from the California State University System working on a watershed management project

Student interns from the California State University System work on a watershed management project. A NIFA-administered grant has funded nearly 220 interns who worked more than 77,000 hours on projects that provide them real-world experience so they will be better prepared for careers in natural resources. (Photo courtesy of Michele Penilla)

With drought reaching historic proportions in Western states, America needs people with both knowledge and experience in water management to help ensure that forests and working lands stay ahead of the effects of climate change.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is partnering with land-grant universities, minority-serving institutions, federal agencies, and other organizations to get qualified students out of their classrooms and into the field where they can pick up real, hands-on experience in natural resource protection. Read more »

Through Partnerships, Golden-Winged Warbler Thrives

A golden-winged warbler perching

A golden-winged warbler perches. Photo by Idun Geunther.

One species that enjoys the West Virginia Appalachian environment for breeding is the golden-winged warbler, but habitat has been hard to find.

There was great excitement when Idun Guenther, a wildlife biologist with the state’s Department of Natural Resources, spotted two golden-winged warbler males on the private property of Julia and Estil Hughes.

The Hughes partnered with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) on a landscape initiative called Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW). Through NRCS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, habitat for a variety of species on privately owned land is restored. Read more »

#USDARoadTrip: Investments in Rural Utilities

A technician installing cables at Pine Net Telephone and internet stations

A technician installs cables at Pine Net Telephone and internet stations. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

Here at USDA, we know utilities mean more than just flipping a switch or turning on a faucet. Access to crucial rural infrastructure helps boost trade opportunities for rural businesses, create jobs, and strengthen our nation’s economy as a whole. That’s why we’re making smart investments to lay the groundwork for long-term prosperity in communities across the country and to provide the foundation needed for rural economies to thrive.

By spurring smart and sustainable infrastructure growth and by helping rural communities manage utility costs, we’re opening the door to a world of opportunities for rural businesses everywhere. Updated water and water treatment systems, increased renewable energy sources, and access to affordable, reliable electric systems and broadband all work to improve the quality of life for our nation’s rural residents, and open possibilities to connect to the global economy. Read more »

Reducing Sodium, Boosting Health for our Nation’s Schoolchildren

What's Shaking infographic

USDA’s new infographic depicts the public health importance of sodium reduction, and provides tips for school nutrition professionals on reducing the sodium content of school meals. (Click to enlarge)

Reducing sodium in school meals is an important part of a broader effort to scale back sodium intake for all Americans.  To that end, our nation’s school nutrition professionals are actively working to lower the sodium content in our children’s meals during the school day.  Many schools have already achieved USDA’s sodium targets, thanks to student feedback on menu planning, changes in recipes and products, and sharing best practices with their colleagues.

The benefits of reducing sodium are significant and supported by science, which indicates overconsumption can lead to heart disease and other chronic conditions.  Through the What’s Shaking? sodium reduction initiative, USDA has teamed with our partners across the country to make a healthful difference for our nation’s children and for their futures. Read more »

New Resource Provides A Key to Unlock Tips on Healthy Aging

New 10 Tips Resource, “Choosing Healthy Meals As You Get Older” infographic

New 10 Tips Resource, “Choosing Healthy Meals As You Get Older” infographic. (Click to enlarge)

Just in time for the 2015 White House Conference on Aging, the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion and National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health,  are co-publishing a new resource, “Choosing Healthy Meals as You Get Older: 10 Healthy Eating Tips for People Age 65+” to provide practical advice about enjoying healthy meals no matter what your age. Our bodies change through our 60s, 70s, 80s, and beyond and making healthy food choices is a smart thing to do at any age!

As you get older, food is the best way to get nutrients you need.  It’s important to find sensible, flexible ways to choose and prepare tasty meals. Eating is more enjoyable when you are with others, so try to make your meals a social event.  There are many ways to make mealtimes pleasing. Read more »

USDA Conservation Innovation Grant Helps Rice Growers Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Voluntarily Participate in California’s Carbon Market

Poly pipe and alternate wetting and drying

Arkansas Rice Growers implement precise water management to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by utilizing poly pipe and alternate wetting and drying. Photo credit: Adam Chambers.

Imagine a rice farmer in Arkansas altering his water management techniques to deliver water more efficiently and use fewer days of flooding, allowing for more precise water and nutrient management while maintaining consistent yields. After a decision by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), in addition to improving water quality and reducing water use and nutrient input costs, that Arkansas farmer now has the option of selling carbon credits to large regulated emitters in California.   

In 2012, California put in place a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions, one of the most aggressive climate change programs in the world. Last week’s groundbreaking vote by CARB adopted the first crop-based agricultural offset protocol, designed to reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions from rice production. Methane and nitrous oxide are potent greenhouse gases emitted through the cultivation and fertilization of rice fields. Read more »