Last week it was my privilege to attend the annual United Tribes Tribal Leaders Summit and associated conferences in Bismarck, North Dakota. This annual gathering is an opportunity for tribal leaders from around the region to exchange information about current issues in Indian Country.
While there, I discussed the importance of the recently-appointed Council for Native American Farming and Ranching. The Council was selected by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to suggest changes to USDA regulations and to provide internal guidance or propose measures that would promote the participation of American Indian farmers and ranchers in USDA programs and support government-to-government relations between USDA and tribal governments. The Council is a discretionary advisory committee established in furtherance of Keepseagle v. Vilsack, which was a lawsuit alleging past discrimination by USDA against Native American farmers and ranchers in the way it operated its farm loan program.
I also met with Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Charles Murphy and shared that USDA will fund a water quality project to rehabilitate and expand a failing sewage treatment system serving members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Read more »
On April 16, 2012, U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer James Schoeffler was on routine patrol on the Pleasant Grove Ranger District which is located on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Utah. While on foot patrol in a popular recreation area located off Big Springs Trail in Provo Canyon, Schoeffler observed a trip wire that was barely visible along a trail. He then traced out the trip line and found a primitive type “booby trap” that was set to activate when the line was “tripped.” The device consisted of a large rock fashioned with sharpened sticks to create a large spiked ball that would potentially hit an unsuspected victim in the chest or head. Schoeffler quickly dismantled the trap and continued to check the area. During his search he discovered another trip line that was designated to send an individual falling onto a bed of sharpened wooden spikes protruding from the ground. Schoeffler dismantled this “booby trap” as well.
It was Schoeffler’s sharp eyesight, knowledge and good timing that kept someone from wandering into the traps, located about a half mile from the recreation area’s parking lot. These traps could have easily severely injured, maimed, or even killed someone recreating in the area. It just so happens that a child’s birthday party was being celebrated in the area on the day that Schoeffler discovered the traps. Read more »
Students at Woolmarket Elementary have transformed a vacant courtyard into a nucleus of plant activity, ranging from cabbages to coastal grasses.
When horticulturist Christine Coker first learned of the People’s Garden Initiative, she searched for a registered garden in her coastal Mississippi community.
Secretary Vilsack began the People’s Garden Initiative—the name references President Lincoln’s description of USDA as the “People’s Department”—in 2009 as an effort to challenge employees to create gardens at USDA facilities. It has since grown into a collaborative effort of over 700 local and national organizations all working together to establish community and school gardens across the country. Read more »
Jasper Cunningham, Michigan FFA National Officer candidate, Junior at Michigan State University, and owner of the Seed Boy Seed Company (left) meets with Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager at the Agriculture Department.
Jasper Cunningham is a busy young man. A Junior at Michigan State University, Michigan FFA’s National Officer candidate, and the owner of his own business: the Seed Boy Seed Company.
Like many FFA members, Jasper, of Ravenna, Michigan, didn’t grow up on a farm, but farming and agriculture is in his blood. An Ag Business major, he’s been in the FFA since his freshman year in high school. Read more »
Most mornings, the Rev. Nonnie Holliman is awake at 3:30 a.m. to begin looking after a group that means a great deal to him—you and your family. In addition to leading Faith Tabernacle Christian Center in Syracuse, N.Y., Holliman works 12-hour shifts as a Consumer Safety Inspector at a nearby meat and poultry processing plant. In this capacity, he provides the first line of defense against diseased or adulterated food reaching store shelves.
CSI’s are in meat and poultry plants every single day that they operate. They observe plant employees, take microbiological samples, and examine plant records to make sure firms are following federal regulations and creating safe and wholesome products for people to enjoy.
“I work every day knowing that my family and I will eat the food that we inspect, and I am sure that I speak for other inspectors in saying that our work matters,” he said. Read more »
Visitors gather at Bracken Cave near San Antonio, Texas, to experience the nightly flight of millions of Mexican free-tailed bats. A public education webinar is set for Sept. 18. Registration is free. Photo courtesy of: Bat Conservation International
Want to know more about one of the most beneficial, yet misunderstood mammals on earth? Learn more about the amazing life of bats including the home of the world’s largest bat colony as the U.S. Forest Service co-sponsors a live distance learning web broadcast on Sept. 18. Read more »