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Forest Service Encourages Youth to Play Outdoors

Children gather around Regional Forester Randy Moore’s desk as he signed a proclamation endorsing the California Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights. The Pacific Southwest Region supports the Children’s Bill of Rights, which encourages children to experience outdoor activities. (U.S. Forest Service/Mario Chocooj)

Children gather around Regional Forester Randy Moore’s desk as he signed a proclamation endorsing the California Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights. The Pacific Southwest Region supports the Children’s Bill of Rights, which encourages children to experience outdoor activities. (U.S. Forest Service/Mario Chocooj)

Pacific Southwest Regional Forester Randy Moore believes that every child should have the opportunity to go camping, take a hike and explore nature. And with the stroke of a pen, he signed in late September a proclamation endorsing the California Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights as a group of children gathered to watch.

Moore wanted to publicly show the Pacific Southwest Region’s support for the statewide initiative, which was created to encourage children to experience outdoor activities and promote active, healthy lifestyles.

“You all represent the future,” said Moore to the children huddled around his desk. “It is important for us to have you learn about the outdoors, and we want you to enjoy being outdoors.” Read more »

Successful Launch of the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition Initiative

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 USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Exciting times are ahead for the future of global agriculture, development, and health.  On October 31, the US delegation returned from successfully launching the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative at the Open Government Partnership Summit in London. GODAN, a partnership between the United States and the United Kingdom governments, focuses on opening agricultural and nutrition data. Working with over 50 partners, GODAN expects to keep the momentum rolling, welcoming additional partners to join the initiative before the first GODAN partner meeting. Read more »

Providing Opportunity Yields Long-Term Insight

Over the years, Oscar Vizcarra’s vineyard and family farm has become a thriving business.  Vizcarra brought his insight and experience to the table as a member of USDA’s Fruit and Vegetable Advisory Industry Committee. Photo courtesy Vizcarra Vineyards.

Over the years, Oscar Vizcarra’s vineyard and family farm has become a thriving business. Vizcarra brought his insight and experience to the table as a member of USDA’s Fruit and Vegetable Advisory Industry Committee. Photo courtesy Vizcarra Vineyards.

Growing up on a family farm in New Mexico, I experienced the joys of producing your own food and sharing it with others. For many, the opportunity to own a farm or work in the agriculture industry is a dream come true, one that they can achieve if given the right opportunity.

In my position here at USDA, I take great pride in the work we do to help producers like Oscar Vizcarra—who now has almost 5,000 people come to apple picking and other events at his farm on a regular basis—realize their dreams.  One of the ways that we will create similar opportunities for the entire agriculture industry is by passing common sense immigration reform, and addressing critical labor issues that are needed to help the industry continue to thrive. Read more »

Native American Heritage Month – A Time for USDA to Consult with Tribes and Learn from Them

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack (center left, second row) meets with members of the USDA Council for Native American Farming and Ranching (CNAFR) in Washington, D.C. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack (center left, second row) meets with members of the USDA Council for Native American Farming and Ranching (CNAFR) in Washington, D.C. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

Late last month it was my privilege to join representatives from multiple USDA agencies at Wisconsin’s Mole Lake Indian Reservation to discuss ways to work together, across agency lines, to provide needed services to Tribes.  Thanks to funding support through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and other USDA programs, the Obama Administration has boosted federal support for Tribes, but now we are working to step up our effort even more, to work as one to support projects and initiatives that the Tribes have told us they support and need.  As we observe  Native American Heritage Month, it is important to note that this effort is consistent with Secretary Vilsack’s “One USDA” policy.  The intention is to have “one USDA speaking with one voice.”

Because we are such a large department, sometimes those seeking services just don’t know where to start.  At USDA we are moving to unify our brand identity and broaden our outreach.  We know that when a member of a Tribe approaches a USDA representative, they don’t want a process.  They want an answer, and we should be giving them answers from all of our agencies. That was the message I shared with my USDA colleagues at Mole Lake. Read more »

Borlaug Fellows Gain Inspiration, Insight During World Food Prize

Emmanuel Amoakwah, a Borlaug Fellow from Ghana currently studying at Ohio State University, gives a presentation on climate change during the Borlaug Symposium at the 2013 World Food Prize on Oct. 16. Approximately 40 Borlaug Fellows and their mentors attended the annual event in Des Moines to network, meet members of the Borlaug family and high-level agricultural officials and this year’s World Food Prize Laureates. (Photo by Jared Henderson, University of Missouri)

Emmanuel Amoakwah, a Borlaug Fellow from Ghana currently studying at Ohio State University, gives a presentation on climate change during the Borlaug Symposium at the 2013 World Food Prize on Oct. 16. Approximately 40 Borlaug Fellows and their mentors attended the annual event in Des Moines to network, meet members of the Borlaug family and high-level agricultural officials and this year’s World Food Prize Laureates. (Photo by Jared Henderson, University of Missouri)

Every year the World Food Prize recognizes the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Norman E. Borlaug created the prize, which emphasizes the importance of a nutritious and sustainable food supply for all people.

This year’s event was held from Oct. 16-19 in Des Moines, Iowa, and also included a USDA-sponsored symposium for 40 foreign scientists from 23 countries (and their university mentors) in the Foreign Agricultural Service Borlaug Fellowship Program. Since 2004, the program has provided U.S.-based training and collaborative research opportunity for scientists and policymakers from developing and middle-income countries to promote food security and economic growth. Read more »

Cochran Fellow Influences Food Security in Mozambique

Mozambique Minister of Science and Technology Louis Pelembe (left) meets with National Soybean Research Laboratory  Director Craig Gundersen and his son, Van, during the World Soybean Research Conference earlier this year. Minister Pelembe participated in the Foreign Agricultural Service Cochran Fellowship Program and has used his training to help address critical food security and develop agricultural policy in Mozambique. (Courtesy photo)

Mozambique Minister of Science and Technology Louis Pelembe (left) meets with National Soybean Research Laboratory Director Craig Gundersen and his son, Van, during the World Soybean Research Conference earlier this year. Minister Pelembe participated in the Foreign Agricultural Service Cochran Fellowship Program and has used his training to help address critical food security and develop agricultural policy in Mozambique. (Courtesy photo)

Promoting food security and agricultural development around the world is a key part of the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) mission. One way FAS does this is by providing educational opportunities to emerging leaders from developing countries through programs such as the Cochran Fellowship Program. Among the FAS-trained fellows who have gone on to great things is Mozambique’s Minister of Science and Technology Louis Pelembe.

Minister Pelembe was a Cochran fellow in 2003, learning about food processing techniques for soy and other commodities at Texas A&M University. He later continued his training at the University of Illinois National Soybean Research Laboratory and Kansas State University with the support of FAS’s Emerging Markets Program. Today, he’s helping address critical food security and developing agricultural policy in Mozambique. Read more »