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How is your Community Moving? Send us a Video!

Last Saturday, First Lady Michelle Obama announced the Communities on the Move Video challenge and invited faith-based, community, and other non-profit organizations to create inspiring videos about their efforts to reverse the trend of childhood obesity. The challenge will recognize community efforts that promote healthy lifestyles for kids by encouraging nutritious eating through USDA’s MyPlate icon, increasing physical activity, and/or ensuring access to healthy, affordable foods.

“America’s faith communities play a crucial role in guiding and strengthening not only our spiritual health, but our emotional and physical health as well,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “Over the past two years, I’ve been inspired by all of the faith leaders and congregations who have taken action to get active and eat healthier, and so we’re launching our Let’s Move! video contest to highlight some of the best examples.  I know there’s so much incredible work being done – and I can’t wait to hear some of these stories first-hand at the White House.” Read more »

Hiking over 2,500 Miles up America’s West Coast

Alex Asai, civil engineer on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Vancouver, Wash. spent five months in 2011 hiking the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail. Here Asai is on the Willamette National Forest in Eugene, Ore. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Alex Asai, civil engineer on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Vancouver, Wash. spent five months in 2011 hiking the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail. Here Asai is on the Willamette National Forest in Eugene, Ore. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Not many people can say that they took six months off from work to hike from one country to another. U.S. Forest Service civil engineer Alex Asai did. Read more »

Forest Service Scientists Awarded $1.4 Million for Restoration Efforts to Save Threatened Plants in Hawaii

This Hawaiian mintless mint (Haplostachys haplostachya) was once found on the islands of Kaua`i, Maui, and Hawai`i. It is now listed as a federally endangered species and is currently found only within the U.S. Department of Defense's Pohakuloa Training Area on the island of Hawai`i.  With the help of new remote sensing techniques developed by USDA Forest Service's Dr. Susan Cordell and her team, research scientists hope to find ways to restore and protect this and other threatened species on the Hawaiian Islands. (Photo: Amanda Uowolo, Forest Service)

This Hawaiian mintless mint (Haplostachys haplostachya) was once found on the islands of Kaua`i, Maui, and Hawai`i. It is now listed as a federally endangered species and is currently found only within the U.S. Department of Defense's Pohakuloa Training Area on the island of Hawai`i. With the help of new remote sensing techniques developed by USDA Forest Service's Dr. Susan Cordell and her team, research scientists hope to find ways to restore and protect this and other threatened species on the Hawaiian Islands. (Photo: Amanda Uowolo, Forest Service)

A Forest Service research team has received a $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Environmental Security Technology Certification Program to begin research using sophisticated topographic models to identify areas within dry forests that have the most potential for ecological restoration. Read more »

USDA Does its Part to Bring Valentine’s Day Cheer

Ensuring cut flowers are free from invasive pests and disease is a joint effort between the USDA and Department of Homeland Security.  Here inspectors examine imported flowers at a Florida Plant Inspection Station run by USDA.

Ensuring cut flowers are free from invasive pests and disease is a joint effort between the USDA and Department of Homeland Security. Here inspectors examine imported flowers at a Florida Plant Inspection Station run by USDA.

Did you know that USDA helps in bringing Valentine’s Day cheer every year? With the help of Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection, USDA’s Animal and Plant health Inspection Service (APHIS) safely imports millions of cut flowers into the US free from harmful plant pests and diseases from Jan 1 to Feb 14th in preparation for the Valentine’s Season. Read more »

Rural Development Officials Seek Input on Ways to Create Jobs, Improve Housing Opportunities in Louisiana

USDA Rural Development Housing Administrator Tammye Trevino and Rural Development Louisiana State Director Clarence Hawkins kick-started the new year by holding a White House Business Council Stakeholder’s meeting in Luling, Louisiana, located in St. Charles Parish near New Orleans.  The focus of the stakeholder’s meeting was rural housing.  The focus fit perfectly in line with Administrator Trevino’s primary reason for visiting Louisiana.

Administrator Trevino, along with Bryan Hooper, Deputy Administrator of USDA’s Multi-Family Housing Division each served as presenters on the Council for Affordable and Rural Housing (CARH) 2012 mid-year meeting in New Orleans.  CARH is a national nonprofit trade organization focusing on issues affecting rural housing.  The theme for this year’s meeting was “Transforming Rural Housing: Innovative Tools and Dynamic Initiatives for Tomorrow.” Read more »

A Blueprint for Savings at the Agricultural Research Service

On January 9, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack put forth USDA’s “Blueprint for Stronger Service” which focuses on streamlining operations and cutting costs throughout the Department.

The “Blueprint for Stronger Service” calls for USDA to close 259 domestic offices, facilities and laboratories, as well as taking business-related actions such as consolidating cell phone plans across the Department, standardizing civil rights training and purchase of cybersecurity products, and centralizing activities related to civil rights, human resources, procurement and property management. Read more »