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Forest Service Innovation is Helping Make the Forever Stamp Stick, Well, Forever

A set of self-adhesive Forever Stamps (Steve Schmieding/U.S. Forest Service)

A set of self-adhesive Forever Stamps (Steve Schmieding/U.S. Forest Service)

Twenty years have passed since the U.S. Postal Service first started transitioning from lickable stamps to the peel-and-stick squares used today, thanks to the research by the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wis.

The two agencies first research collaboration focused on developing the peel-and-stick – or pressure-sensitive adhesives – that didn’t gum up the equipment used to recycle paper. By using this adhesive an additional 20 million tons of waste paper can be recycled annually. Read more »

A South Dakotan’s Commitment Advances Women’s History

In recognition of National Women’s History Month, the South Dakota USDA Rural Development staff salutes all of the inspiring, influential women who are making a difference in society at the local, state and national level.  In line with this year’s theme of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (SMART) we draw strength and inspiration through the tenacity of one woman’s journey, Dawn Emily Ottman.

After a career in the military followed by a decade of success as an engineer, Dawn sustained a head injury.  After years of relearning to walk and adjusting to her disability, she made the decision to work when she could, and not give up.  So what’s a woman to do when she spends her life contributing and now finds herself requiring too many “accommodations” in the workplace?  She creates her own job where she can accommodate her disability challenges.   And so it was in 2005, when CanDew Scientific, a small business of one employee and a renewable energy “green engineering” company was formed with assistance received through the Small Business Development Center (SDBC). Centers of this type are funded across the nation in part with assistance from USDA Rural Development. Read more »

Smokey Bear Hug Warms the Heart of Young Virginia Boy Battling Cancer

Six-year-old Nathan Norman and Smokey Bear share a moment together during a Feb. 25, 2013 visit to Nathan’s home.

Six-year-old Nathan Norman and Smokey Bear share a moment together during a Feb. 25, 2013 visit to Nathan’s home.

Six-year-old Nathan Norman counts Smokey Bear as one of his new best friends. The Rustburg, Va., boy recently met Smokey and a number of wildland firefighters and law enforcement officers from the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests as part of his hobby of reaching out to these first responders for cards and letters of support.

Nathan, diagnosed with brain cancer at 2 and with spinal cancer at 4, has spent much of his life in and out of hospitals. Read more »

USDA and EPA Make People’s Garden Blossom

The Midwest Region encouraged interns to participate in the People’s Garden as part of its Cultural Transformation efforts.

The Midwest Region encouraged interns to participate in the People’s Garden as part of its Cultural Transformation efforts.

It is amazing what successful partnerships we have developed through our USDA People’s Garden initiative in the Food & Nutrition Service’s Midwest Region. It’s been four years now since we began working with the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Windy City Harvest Program to create our garden. The garden is a symbol of USDA’s history in connecting our people to the land. Throughout the years, we have helped maintain raised garden beds in one of Chicago’s most economically and socially challenged neighborhoods. Now we have expanded those efforts to include our federal neighbors and partners at the Environmental Protection Agency. Read more »

USDA Aids Construction, Refurbishes Apartments for Elderly Wisconsin Residents

Construction is underway with a goal to substantially upgrade senior housing in three communities in rural Wisconsin.  Funding support is provided in part through the USDA Community Facilities Program.

Construction is underway with a goal to substantially upgrade senior housing in three communities in rural Wisconsin. Funding support is provided in part through the USDA Community Facilities Program.

For residents of three senior care centers in western Wisconsin, the time has come to say “good-bye” to shared living spaces, shared bathrooms and double corridors; and say “hello” to private rooms, large, private bathrooms, and neighborhood designs.  Through new construction, Baldwin Care Center, Glenhaven, and Colfax Health & Rehabilitation Center are providing more of the comforts of home in a statewide push to modernize senior living.  Funding for all three projects comes from USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program, and AgStar Financial Services. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Celebrating the Resilience and Productivity of American Agriculture

On March 19, USDA joined millions of Americans in celebrating National Agriculture Day.

National Agriculture Day provides an important opportunity each year to say “Thank You” to America’s farmers, ranchers and growers. It’s a time to recognize their productivity and to celebrate their abilities.

Their work has real impacts for every American. Our abundant food supply means that we spend a lower portion of our income on food than the people of any other developed nation. Meanwhile, America’s agricultural exports support more than one million jobs here at home.

As we celebrate their achievements, it’s important for all of us to understand the uncertainty faced by our farmers, ranchers and growers. In the past year, they have endured the worst drought in generations – putting an extra strain on farmers, and raising input costs for livestock and dairy producers. The drought continues to impact many areas of the nation today. Read more »