2015 Safeguarding Natural Heritage Diné College summer youth students, Mansi (left), Thomasina (middle) and Tenaya (right) weed a corn field as a part of learning about Navajo traditional farming, from community elders Ferlin and Gwen Clark. Students weeded several corn field plots, helped build a taller fence around the field, and listened in on traditional teachings from the elders. Photographer: Amy Redhorse
The land and our strong ties to the earth as humans are a source of culture and livelihood throughout Indian Country. Native youth carry the hopes of their ancestors forward, and many tribes have visited with me at the Office of Tribal Relations, interested in learning how their children and grandchildren can discover more about the world around them. Through the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Safeguarding Natural Heritage (SNH) program, the USDA partners with Tribal Colleges and Universities to promote youth exposure to agriculture, natural resources, and wildlife biology.
Since 2007, the SNH program has served as a 2-week outreach program for students 14 to 17 years of age, bringing APHIS experts—as well as Tribal elders, Tribal professionals, and university professors—together with Tribal youth for instruction and mentoring. SNH students pay only the cost of transportation to and from their homes to the participating campus, and APHIS covers the cost of tuition, room and board, and laboratory supplies. Tribal Colleges and Universities work with APHIS to develop workshops and trainings to help students learn how to safeguard the natural world within and outside Tribal boundaries. Activities often include hands-on labs, workshops, discussions, and field trips. Read more »
An adult spotted lanternfly (Photo courtesy of Bugwood)
Last year, an invasive pest known as the spotted lanternfly was found in the United States for the first time ever in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Tucked away in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Berks County may seem an unlikely location to find a foreign pest, but with today’s global economy unwanted pests can show up almost anywhere.
In response, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) to stop this pest from spreading. APHIS has already contributed more than $1 million in Farm Bill funding to support the response effort in Pennsylvania, and PDA quickly established a quarantine area and regulated the movement of potential host material to help protect other communities. Read more »
Here at USDA, we believe in the power of community to make a difference. So when Alice Deal Middle School in Washington, DC, reached out to the USDA Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships to come visit for their annual day of service, we were eager to welcome over 100 seventh graders to our headquarters to talk about the importance of environmental awareness and conservation practices, their theme for this year. With seventy percent of the nation’s land under private ownership, the success of USDA’s partnership with landowners to clean the air we breathe, conserve and clean the water we drink, prevent soil erosion, and create and protect wildlife habitat will depend on developing a strong next generation of conservation leaders like the Alice Deal students. So too, will our ability to manage the public lands and waters, including our national forests and grasslands that we hold in trust for the American people.
After a day with these bright young students, we’ve learned that we’re in pretty good hands. Read more »
Bananas from the field are collected and washed after harvest and prior to export.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture continuously seeks opportunities for U.S. agricultural products and producers to expand access to overseas markets and contribute to a positive U.S. trade balance, in turn creating jobs and supporting economic growth. The past six years have represented the strongest period for American agricultural exports in the history of our country. In fiscal year 2014 American farmers and ranchers exported a record $152.5 billion of food and agricultural products to consumers worldwide.
To that end, I recently had the opportunity to visit the Philippines with APHIS employees and meet with U.S. Embassy personnel, Philippine government officials, and Philippine industry representatives. On my trip, I met with our Philippine counterparts at all levels and learned first-hand the value of outreach and relationship-building between APHIS colleagues stationed in Manila, Embassy colleagues, and locally employed staff. Philip Goldberg, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, who was very gracious with his time, acknowledged the close working relationship between APHIS personnel in Manila and their local plant and animal health counterparts and highlighted how resolutions of technical issues contribute to the overall strong bilateral partnership between the United States and the Philippines. Read more »
Colorado State University graphics design student Katie Clonan with her winning logo. Photo by USDA.
Come this October, Katie Clonan is looking forward to seeing the fruits of her labor all over Fort Collins, Colorado. That’s because Katie is the winner of the 2015 Rabies in the Americas (RITA) logo contest. Her logo will be showcased on t-shirts, banners, and other paraphernalia shared with more than 300 attendees of the 26th annual RITA conference from October 4-8 in Fort Collins.
“This is the first time the international Rabies in the Americas conference has been held in Colorado,” notes Dr. Stephanie Shwiff, one of several USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) scientists helping to plan the event. “We’re excited to host the conference with our colleagues in the Wildlife Services National Rabies Management Program and other members of the RITA planning committee. One of my favorite tasks so far has been partnering with Colorado State University’s (CSU) Department of Art and Art History to sponsor a logo contest.” Read more »
Photo credit: Mark Trail via @ComicsKingdom
Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Awareness week is May 17-23 and my tenure in a nationally syndicated comic strip is coming to an end, so it’s a good time to tell you how a new USDA employee wound up cartoon-ized.
The Mark Trail strip—known for its environmental themes—just finished a six-week long storyline about the invasive EAB. The EAB, a small metallic green wood-boring beetle, destroys ash trees and is now found in 25 U.S. States. The Mark Trail strip features “Agent Abbey Powell from the USDA” and shares information about the EAB. To view the comic—beginning with my debut—visit Mark Trail. Read more »