Earlier this month I joined Delaware Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons in announcing USDA funding support for a project that will help 24 limited-income families build their own homes. It’s called Self-Help Housing.
Under the program, limited-income credit-worthy families work together to build their own houses. Usually, about eight families work together under the guidance of a construction foreman and the process takes about a year. The program requires applicants to provide at least 65 percent of the labor, and at closing, this contribution becomes their “sweat equity.” At the end of the process, USDA provides a direct homeownership loan at an interest rate of as little as one percent.
“The Self-Help Housing Program is one that instills a sense of pride in individuals as they work to build the very structure they will live in,” said Senator Carper. “Homeownership is part of the American dream, and programs like the USDA’s Rural Development Self Help Housing Program make that dream more accessible as we work our way out of this long and difficult recession,” Senator Coons said. Read more »
The end of December is typically marked by people returning holiday gifts that don’t fit or aren’t quite right. But this year, farmers and ranchers across the country can give themselves a gift that won’t be returned and will keep on giving even after the holiday season – a voice for their industry and their community.
By filling out the 2012 Census of Agriculture, farmers are investing in the future of their farm and American agriculture. Their responses provide a strong and unified voice about their needs and current state of the industry. Law makers, government organizations, businesses, town planners and individual farm operations use this valuable information to help shape farm programs, boost rural services, and grow their farm futures. It’s an important investment into the future and well-being of farming and all of agriculture in America. Read more »
Middle and high school students from across the state gathered on the University of Kentucky (UK) campus earlier this month, to learn about potential careers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
UK’s College of Agriculture hosted the group, Jr. Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), with the intent of getting the students interested in pursuing a college education.
Representatives from a variety of USDA agencies – including Rural Development, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service – talked with students about their respective agencies, explaining their missions and what career fields were available throughout USDA. They also were interviewed by students about their job, explaining job responsibilities and how they came to work in their career field. Read more »
Recovery Act funding saved this bridge, the only direct thoroughfare to the town of Ripley, Tenn.
Steve Koonce, a Civil Engineering Technician with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), remembers swimming in Tennessee’s Cane Creek as a youngster, when he and friends would jump from a bridge into the water 15 feet below. But today, because of a catastrophic erosion problem, that activity would be a lot more dangerous. Read more »
The Pennsylvania Rural Development staff and the toys that were donated to local children in need through the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Toy Drive.
Rather than the traditional office name exchange this year, the Pennsylvania USDA Rural Development State Office staff added a new twist. Each employee made a list of toys they enjoyed as children. The lists were exchanged and employees purchased toys for an eight year old version of their co-worker. The wrapped toys were recently distributed at an office holiday gathering.
The staff enjoyed opening baby dolls, remote control helicopters, games and puzzles. As children, the staff may have had a difficult time handing over their new “toys” to strangers. However, smiles were all around as over 30 unwrapped toys were picked up by two uniformed Marines to be delivered to their local distribution center. Read more »
One of the many celebrations and traditions that people still practice is the burning of the yule log and singing yuletide carols. Photo courtesy of Penny Stritch.
Many holiday traditions are celebrated during the season surrounding the winter solstice, or the time when the sun is at its lowest point above the horizon.
For communities and families, plants play a central role in these traditions. Yet, most people are unaware of the origins of how plants like holly and yule logs became part of holidays and traditions. Read more »