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AMS Dairy Program’s Virtual Intern Program Recognized as a “Bright Idea”

AMS Dairy Virtual Intern Program Team Lead Dora Flores communicates with virtual intern Daman Wandke.  The team was one of 111 programs honored with a 2012 Harvard University Bright Ideas initiative award.

AMS Dairy Virtual Intern Program Team Leads Sarah Buikema and Dora Flores communicate with their student interns. The program allows interns to work with the agency on a part-time basis as they continue their education at schools all across the country.

I am pleased to say that our Dairy Programs’ Virtual Intern Program (VIP) was recently honored by Harvard University’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. Our team was among 111 programs honored by the school’s Bright Ideas initiative.  The initiative, part of the Innovations in American Government Awards program, promotes creative government ventures and partnerships while creating an online community where innovative ideas can be proposed, shared and disseminated. Read more »

USDA, Other Federal Partners, Meet with Tribal Leaders at Alaska’s Capital

Last month, representatives of several federal agencies held a meeting with the federally recognized tribes in Southeast Alaska. The meeting, in Alaska’s capital city of Juneau, was the fifth in a series of government-to-government Tribal Collaboration Meetings scheduled with tribes in Alaska. The venue for the meeting between federal officials and tribal leaders was the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska Vocational Training and Resource Center.

Tribal representatives and other partners from the region used the session to discuss issues affecting their villages. Leaders from USDA Rural Development, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, Small Business Administration, Housing and Urban Development, the Economic Development Administration (EDA), and Intertribal Agriculture Council were on hand to listen and participate in the dialogue. Read more »

Five Tips for the Kickoff to Citrus Health

Ready, set, hike! With football season upon us, we want to help you “kick off” your citrus’ health. Whether you are a rookie or seasoned veteran when it comes to growing fruit, following these simple tips can help your citrus have a winning season.

1. Draft an all-pro citrus team

Dwarf varieties are often preferable for backyard growing because they take up less space, do not grow as tall, and are easier and safer to pick. When purchasing citrus trees, buying a healthy tree from a reputable seller is critical. If you are ordering a citrus tree, make sure the nursery or shipper is in compliance with federal quarantine restrictions. Read more »

USDA Rural Development Energy Funds Help a Puerto Rican Paint Manufacturer run on 100 percent Solar Power

This solar electric system, funded in part through USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program has reduced a Puerto Rican Paint company’s electric bill from $180,000/year to zero.

This solar electric system, funded in part through USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program has reduced a Puerto Rican Paint company’s electric bill from $180,000/year to zero.

On September 13, Master Paints & Chemical Corporation located in the Municipality of Guayanila, Puerto Rico realized their goal when they became independent of the use of fossil fuel sources energy.

Master Paint & Chemical Corp is a local rural paint manufacturer that employs 260 people. This company represents one of the main jobs sources in the municipality. In the past, the cost of electricity totaled more than $180,000 annually. Energy savings in this area became a priority to grantee. With the installation of this system, the company will save 100 percent in yearly energy costs. Read more »

Forest Service Research Helping Grasslands, Shrublands Endure Changing Climate

Blackbrush, a species in the Mojave and Great Basin deserts, has adjusted well to climate change, according to genetics research by Forest Service scientists.

Blackbrush, a species in the Mojave and Great Basin deserts, has adjusted well to climate change, according to genetics research by Forest Service scientists.

Climate change’s threat to forests – specifically to trees – has garnered much attention among people concerned with protecting our environment.  Yet, a lack of research on the effects of climate change on grasslands and shrublands is leaving land managers with little information to make decisions on sustaining these vital landscapes so important for recreation, tribal life, crop and livestock production, and native plant and wildlife conservation.

Forest Service researchers point to recent climatic studies in predicting that by the end of the century, 55 percent of future landscapes in the West will likely have climates that are in­compatible with the vegetation types that now occur on those landscapes. Read more »

Maryland Landowner Creates Wildlife Haven & Keeps Property in the Family

District Conservationist Nelson Brice and Kirby Wells discuss restoration plans for the 1,700 acre easement.

District Conservationist Nelson Brice and Kirby Wells discuss restoration plans for the 1,700 acre easement.

Kirby Wells knew that if he wanted future generations of Wellses to enjoy the family’s land on Maryland’s lower Eastern Shore, something had to change.

The 1,700 acres Wells’ grandfather had purchased in 1941, then drained and planted with loblolly pines was rapidly losing value. In 2006, the family’s sawmill business closed due to the decline of the housing market, and the pressure to sell to developers was on. Read more »