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Iowa Takes an Ethnic Studies Approach to 4-H

4-H’ers participating in Ujima

4-H’ers participate in Ujima, an Iowa 4-H program that reflects the positive cultural knowledge that many of the youth possess. Photo credit: Chaisson-Cardenas

In this guest blog, Iowa State 4-H Youth Development program leader John-Paul Chaisson-Cardenas takes a look at several ways 4-H is embracing the cultural diversity of its participating youth to make sure youth of color feel welcome as the U.S. student population grows more diverse.

By John-Paul Chaisson-Cardenas, Iowa State 4-H Youth Development Program Leader

While the foundational elements of 4-H—experiential learning, positive youth development, et al.—are well-suited for cross-cultural and multicultural contexts, some of the language and traditions of 4-H may not be as culturally relevant to many youth.

In 2014, Iowa 4-H began to intentionally move beyond inclusion to belonging.  We expanded on the previous work of our national partner, 4-H National Headquarters, to redevelop programs that reflect the positive cultural knowledge that many of our youth already have.  4-H National Headquarters is part of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), provides funding and national program leadership to 4-H. Read more »

New MyPlate Resources for Families

Family in the park

MyPlate has new resources for families working together toward a healthier lifestyle.

It’s that time again…back-to-school season is upon us. It’s an exciting time of year for kids, offering a new beginning with the promise of new friends and new experiences. It’s also a great time for families to establish a new routine and work together toward a healthier lifestyle. ChooseMyPlate.gov and Team Nutrition just launched new resources to help your family eat better together, including printable activity sheets, tips for making mealtimes fun and stress-free, and videos featuring real families who share healthy eating solutions that work for them. Read more »

USDA Wallace-Carver Fellowship Grows the Next Generation of Agricultural Leaders

Acting Deputy Secretary Michael Scuse speaking to students

Acting Deputy Secretary Michael Scuse speaks to students during the 2016 Wallace-Carver Leadership Symposium at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington DC.

Over the course of the Administration, recruiting the next generation of agricultural leaders has been a key priority for USDA. Last week, I had the opportunity to meet some impressive young people who will lead this field in the 21st century.

In partnership with the World Food Prize, USDA created the Wallace-Carver Fellowship in 2011 to inspire the next generation of American scientific and humanitarian leaders. Named for Henry A. Wallace and George Washington Carver, two of the great American leaders in agricultural science and policy who made significant strides toward ending hunger, the Wallace-Carver Fellowship seeks to educate, inspire and train the next generation of agricultural leaders. Read more »

Military Experience Opens Door for Soldier to Return to the Farm

Veteran Tracy Robinson

Veteran Tracy Robinson’s military experience counted toward farming experience, allowing him to access USDA microloan funding.

Graduating from high school in the small town of Blakely, Georgia, Tracy Robinson was required to take an armed forces aptitude test. When asked what he wanted to do with his life, Robinson said he wanted to farm. The Marine recruiter told him he would be a great field artilleryman.

“I heard the word field and thought it had something to do with farming,” said Robinson. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and after finding out field artillery had nothing to do with farming he stayed and fought for his country for 24 years, serving in Desert Shield, Afghanistan and Iraq. Read more »

Citizen Science is Sound Science Provided by You

Volunteers traversing the North Cascades Mountains

Volunteers traversing the North Cascades Mountains looking to track butterflies. Photo credit: National Park Service

Have you ever seen a cool bird in your backyard and wondered if there was some way to share what you saw with others? Better yet, have you thought about sharing your observations and having them used to help study and conserve those birds? These thoughts are an indicator that you might have the makings of a great citizen scientist!

The Forest Service is engaged in a wide variety of citizen science projects that encourage public involvement in natural and cultural resource science and conservation. Volunteers can contribute by forming research questions, collecting and analyzing data, or interpreting results. If you have a sense of wonder and discovery, citizen science may be for you. Read more »

Helping an Urban Farmer Connect People with Food

Amanda Barker with NRCS District Conservationist Dan Lenthall

At an urban agriculture conference, Barker learned that USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service helps growers with irrigation efficiency, so she reached out to NRCS District Conservationist Dan Lenthall for help.

When Amanda Barker arrived in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 2009 to start graduate school at Clark University she knew that she wanted to grow food and build community. “My hope was to figure out a way to connect people with food, get people talking to each other,” said Barker.

Seven years later, she is one of the nation’s urban agriculture pioneers who raises crops on tiny patches of land wedged between city buildings, used car lots, highways and railroad tracks, and even on rooftops. Read more »