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USDA’s Agricultural Ties Run Deep

Mary Louise Reynnells (right) and Shellie Wallace-Polin in their FFA jackets, 1977.

Mary Louise Reynnells (right) and Shellie Wallace-Polin in their FFA jackets, 1977.

Earlier this year, in preparation for the 2015 opening of a new business history exhibition, American Enterprise, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History put out a call for current and past members of the National FFA Organization to submit their FFA jackets accompanied with their own personal agricultural history. The jackets and stories, to be featured in the agricultural portion of the exhibition, will examine the significance that agricultural education continues to play to our national identity.

At a ceremony last week, five jackets and their stories were selected; among them, a jacket from President Jimmy Carter and a jacket from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service employee Mary “Louise” Reynnells. USDA employees work every day to ensure that American farmers have access to the opportunities they need, and many of their ties to agriculture extend well beyond their time at USDA. Here is Mary “Louise” Reynnells’s story, and with it, her contribution to our agricultural heritage. Read more »

USDA Conservationist Recognizes Iconic Microsoft “Wallpaper” from Field Work

Microsoft used this photo titled “Bliss” for the default wallpaper on its XP operating system. Photo by Charles O’Rear.

Microsoft used this photo titled “Bliss” for the default wallpaper on its XP operating system. Photo by Charles O’Rear.

Windows XP was recently retired along with the iconic photo of a verdant green field on rolling hills that was the operating system’s default wallpaper.

This photo, called “Bliss,” had puzzled me for some time as it looked so familiar. Read more »

’68 Olympians return to Echo Summit

John Carlos breaks the tape and sets a world record of 19.7 seconds in the 200-meter final during the Olympic Trials in September 1968. Tommie Smith (right) placed second, and Larry Questad (red shorts and white jersey) was third. (Courtesy Track & Field News/Rich Clarkson)

John Carlos breaks the tape and sets a world record of 19.7 seconds in the 200-meter final during the Olympic Trials in September 1968. Tommie Smith (right) placed second, and Larry Questad (red shorts and white jersey) was third. (Courtesy Track & Field News/Rich Clarkson)

On June 27, 11 members of the 1968 U.S. Olympic men’s track and field team returned to the Eldorado National Forest to commemorate the site that helped catapult them to 24 medals — including 12 gold — in the Summer Games that year.

Nearly 46 years ago, Echo Summit, on the forest 10 miles west of South Lake Tahoe in California, was the site of a high-elevation training facility. At an elevation of 7,377 feet, the 400-meter oval track, carved out of a stand of pine trees, was designed to prepare athletes for high-altitude conditions that were similar to those in Mexico City, where the Games would be held. The site was later declared a California historic landmark. Read more »

Unleashing Climate Data to Empower America’s Agricultural Sector

Cross-posted from the White House Blog:

Today, in a major step to advance the President’s Climate Data Initiative, the Obama administration is inviting leaders of the technology and agricultural sectors to the White House to discuss new collaborative steps to unleash data that will help ensure our food system is resilient to the effects of climate change.

More intense heat waves, heavier downpours, and severe droughts and wildfires out west are already affecting the nation’s ability to produce and transport safe food. The recently released National Climate Assessment makes clear that these kinds of impacts are projected to become more severe over this century. Read more »

Four Steps to a Food Safe Eid ul-Fitr

Traditional Moroccan meal for Eid ul-Fitr after the fast for Ramadan has been broken.

Traditional Moroccan meal for Eid ul-Fitr after the fast for Ramadan has been broken.

Ramadan will end this week.  This month of fasting concludes with Eid ul-Fitr, and on this festive day it is forbidden to fast. Those commemorating this holiday attend prayer, visit with family and friends, and celebrate. While traditions vary, one component stays the same – FOOD. If you plan on celebrating this “Festival of Breaking the Fast” follow the four simple steps for food safety to keep your loved ones foodborne illness-free: clean, separate, cook and chill.

During Eid ul-Fitr, observers visit the homes of family, friends and neighbors. As with most family gatherings and celebrations, children often play while adults talk. Also like most family gatherings and celebrations, food is usually served, in the form of a small snack or a large meal. As you and your family make your holiday visits, make sure your children clean their hands before they enjoy the day’s treats. Read more »

The Important Role of Volunteers in Human Nutrition Studies

ARS is looking for volunteers for a study examining how the body absorbs plant-derived nutritional compounds, called polyphenols, which are found in apples, berries and tea.

ARS is looking for volunteers for a study examining how the body absorbs plant-derived nutritional compounds, called polyphenols, which are found in apples, berries and tea.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

How would you like to learn more about your personal health while contributing to science as a volunteer in a human nutrition research study?

Seventeen years ago, I saw an ad for such a study. I attended an information session to learn more, applied and was accepted. Looking back, it was a positive experience for me, and I’d do it again if I could. Read more »