Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

From Special Training Program to Full-Time Forester in Mississippi

Christina Parker engages in a pine stand inventory on the Bienville Ranger District which is home to scarce communities of red-cockaded woodpeckers (Monday, July 30, 2012). Her data is used to develop the necessary forest prescriptions to treat stand structures to meet the forest’s land management objectives including activities such as timber sales or herbicide treatments. (AP Photo/Christopher Locke)

Christina Harper engages in a pine stand inventory on the Bienville Ranger District which is home to scarce communities of red-cockaded woodpeckers (Monday, July 30, 2012). Her data is used to develop the necessary forest prescriptions to treat stand structures to meet the forest’s land management objectives including activities such as timber sales or herbicide treatments.

Christina Harper, a new forester on the Bienville National Forest in Mississippi, has travelled a busy road from a special student training program to a full-time U.S. Forest Service employee.

Harper graduated from the Student Career Experience Program, which provides work experience directly related to students’ academic programs or career goals. The program exposes students to public service while enhancing their educational goals. Read more »

South Carolina Restaurant Owner Finds Peace in the Forest

Left to right: Landowner Dennis Hiltner, NRCS Soil Conservation Technician Jackie Heuermann and District Conservationist Bruce Andrews review the conservation plan for the Hiltner property.

Left to right: Landowner Dennis Hiltner, NRCS Soil Conservation Technician Jackie Heuermann and District Conservationist Bruce Andrews review the conservation plan for the Hiltner property.

Dennis Hiltner truly leads a “farm-to-table” existence.

Some days, you will find Hiltner alongside his wife and business partner, Linda, in Columbia, S.C.’s Five Points neighborhood, managing their business, The Gourmet Shop. (The Hiltners opened the Columbia landmark, which is part wine shop, food and kitchenware store, and café, in 1979.) Read more »

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 8/9/12

U.S corn areas located in drought.

U.S corn areas located in drought. (Click to enlarge)

Visit www.usda.gov/drought for the latest information regarding USDA’s Drought Disaster response and assistance.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor, valid August 7, indicates that the percentage of corn and soybeans in drought remains relatively stable.  However, corn and soybeans in the most two serious drought categories (D3 to D4, or extreme to exceptional drought) continue to rise sharply.  Approximately 87% of the U.S. corn is within an area experiencing drought, down from a peak of 89% on July 24.  Similarly, 85% of the U.S. soybeans are in a drought area, down from a high of 88% on July 24.  During the three-week period ending August 7, corn in extreme to exceptional drought nearly quadrupled, from 14 to 53%, while soybeans in the two worst drought categories (D3 or D4) more than tripled from 16 to 50%. Read more »

It Takes a County … to Help Feed Families!

In small rural communities like Cedar County, Iowa it takes many people wearing different hats to coordinate a successful food drive effort. This group gleaned for the Bread of Life Food Pantry to help support USDA’s Feds Feed Families campaign.

In small rural communities like Cedar County, Iowa it takes many people wearing different hats to coordinate a successful food drive effort. This group gleaned for the Bread of Life Food Pantry to help support USDA’s Feds Feed Families campaign.

USDA employees at the Tipton Service Center in Iowa are making impressive contributions to this year’s Feds Feed Families campaign. USDA Rural Development employee Mike Boyle reported food donations exceeding 750 pounds for the month of June and 1,760 pounds in July – just a portion of what is expected to be distributed throughout Tipton and surrounding eastern Iowa communities as part of the food drive this summer. Read more »

Residents of Pennsylvania’s Shenandoah Borough are Relieved that a New USDA-funded Police Cruiser is On the Way

Shenandoah Patrolman Kirk Kirkland stands in front of his police cruiser in front of Borough Hall. An $18,240 Rural Development Community Facilities Economic Impact Initiative grant will help the Borough purchase a new four-wheel drive police cruiser to better serve the rural residents of Shenandoah.

Shenandoah Patrolman Kirk Kirkland stands in front of his police cruiser in front of Borough Hall. An $18,240 Rural Development Community Facilities Economic Impact Initiative grant will help the Borough purchase a new four-wheel drive police cruiser to better serve the rural residents of Shenandoah.

With a new four-wheel drive police vehicle on the way to Pennsylvania’s rural Shenandoah Borough, local residents can rest assured that they will have a reliable emergency response vehicle as cold weather approaches.  Congressman Tim Holden and USDA Rural Development State Director Thomas Williams visited the borough hall recently to make the official announcement. Read more »

The Building Blocks of Farmers Markets

A design concept for the outside of Michigan’s indoor/outdoor market arena.  After developing a design concept, Fidel Delgado, AMS Architect, provides cost estimates and a feasibility assessment.

A design concept for the outside of Michigan’s indoor/outdoor market arena. After developing a design concept, Fidel Delgado, AMS Architect, provides cost estimates and a feasibility assessment.

Farmers markets are evolving.  They are moving away from seasonal, parking lot produce stands and becoming year-round, self-sustaining, community hubs.  As more and more cities and communities look for ways to strengthen their local economies, we’ve seen more emphasis placed on both the infrastructure and the actual structure of their farmers markets.  That’s where I come in. Read more »