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

A ‘Wild’ Experience with the Forest Service

With the increased use of electronic devices and scheduled activities competing for children’s outdoor time, how can we strike a balance?

There’s still hope by encouraging kids to get outdoors and to experience wild things.

In March, the Klamath National Forest and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Yreka Field Office joined forces with an interactive wildlife education booth at the annual Siskiyou County Sportsmen’s Expo in Yreka, Calif. Read more »

USDA Assists in the Rebirth of the Tomato Capitol of the World

(L to R) Anne Hogya, Pittston Library Director , Thomas Williams, USDA Rural Development State Director, and Barbara Quinn, Library Board President, display artist renderings of the library expansion slated to begin this summer. USDA photos.

(L to R) Anne Hogya, Pittston Library Director, Thomas Williams, USDA Rural Development State Director, and Barbara Quinn, Library Board President, display artist renderings of the library expansion slated to begin this summer. USDA photos.

Nestled among mountain regions between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania the city of Pittston is the gateway to the Wyoming Valley. The city gained prominence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a booming coal mining center.  After experiencing many ups and downs, Pittston is experiencing a rebirth as family businesses come back to the downtown area. With local, state and federal funding from USDA Rural Development, Transportation Enhancement Grants and state gaming revenue grants, Pittston is halfway through a 20-year revitalization project that includes continued upgrades to the streetscape, library and City Hall. Read more »

Meeting our Mission – A Safer Food Supply

Cross posted from Food Safety News:

My passion for public health stems from my career as an infectious disease doctor, watching families cope with the heartbreak caused by preventable diseases, including foodborne illness.  I know what it feels like to explain to a husband in shock that the reason his wife is on life support is because of something she ate that was contaminated with a deadly pathogen.

Now, I am the Under Secretary for Food Safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  In my current role, I oversee dedicated USDA inspectors, scientists, veterinarians, and numerous other personnel who protect food that we eat every day.  There is nothing more fundamental than being able to feed your own family a meal that will not make you sick, or worse, put you in the hospital.

I understand that there has been a lot of confusion about a proposal by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to modernize inspection at poultry slaughter plants.

I would like to try to eliminate that confusion. Read more »

They’re Back! Count on the Cicada to Soon Be a Part of Your Springtime Experience

The adult periodical cicada emerges from its 17-year nymph stage, molts and arises as a winged adult. This spring will see the return of the large, colorful, fly-like bugs with large eyes and tented wings. (U.S. Forest Service photo/ Bob Rabaglia)

The adult periodical cicada emerges from its 17-year nymph stage, molts and arises as a winged adult. This spring will see the return of the large, colorful, fly-like bugs with large eyes and tented wings. (U.S. Forest Service photo/ Bob Rabaglia)

The buzz this spring has started, and some people may think it’s fodder for a new sci-fi movie. But this year’s spring brings a drama closer to home than you think – the pending emergence of brood II of the periodical cicada.

Cicadas are large, colorful, fly-like bugs with large eyes and tented wings. As the male cicadas sing their intense mating songs, some brand it as the sound of summer. Read more »

Illinois Urban Watershed Action Plan Will Address Water Quality Issues with NRCS Help

Flooding in September 2007 along the Fox River just south of East Dundee. (Photo courtesy National Weather Service, Chicago, Ill., Weather Forecast Office)

Flooding in September 2007 along the Fox River just south of East Dundee. (Photo courtesy National Weather Service, Chicago, Ill., Weather Forecast Office)

Over the past few decades, water quality in the Jelkes Creek–Fox River watershed in northern Illinois has diminished greatly.

That’s why USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service collaborated with the Kane-DuPage Soil & Water Conservation District and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency in 2011 on a watershed planning process with residents, environmental groups and other stakeholders. Read more »

Alaskan Forest Floors Sprout Array of Interesting Mushrooms

Fly agaric / Amanita muscaria (Copyright Steven A. Trudell; reprinted with permission)

Fly agaric / Amanita muscaria (Copyright Steven A. Trudell; reprinted with permission)

The fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) sits on the forest floor in Alaska as if it is waiting to be cast in an Alice in Wonderland movie.

Its recognizable bright red cap dotted with white warts belies their toxic nature. Although the effects vary, experts warn against eating them. In Alaska, fly agaric is generally found around birch or spruce trees and loves the northwest environment. Read more »