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Chimney Rock National Monument Joins Six Others Managed by the Forest Service

Chimney Rock, designed a national monument on Sept. 21, 2012, was home to the Ancestral Pueblo People about 1,000 years ago and is culturally significant for Native American tribes. The dramatic Great House Pueblo was likely was used as an observatory for the annual summer solstice.

Chimney Rock, designated a national monument on Sept. 21, 2012, was home to the Ancestral Pueblo People about 1,000 years ago and is culturally significant for Native American tribes. The dramatic Great House Pueblo was likely was used as an observatory for the annual summer solstice.

Chimney Rock Archaeological Area – the jewel of San Juan National Forest – shines a lot brighter today after President Obama signed a proclamation establishing the area and surrounding land as Chimney Rock National Monument. It is the United States’ 103rd national monument and the seventh to be managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Read more »

Students Get Involved: In Arkansas, a Healthy Garden Means a Healthy School

These cabbages would be the pride of any gardener, but in this case the gardeners are eighty 2nd and 4th grade students from Junction City Elementary in Junction City, Arkansas. They are among the 4,000 students in 54 schools across the country participating in Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth (HGHY) – a project of USDA’s People’s Garden School Pilot Project.

With its southern climate, the schools in Arkansas got a head start on building their gardens and planting crops. On this day, Arkansas HGHY Principal Investigator Laura Connerly and project leads Janet Carson and Julie Treat of the University of Arkansas, along with HGHY Project Director Brad Gaolach and Martha Aitken from Washington State University, watched the students enthusiastically harvest cabbage, beets, basil, and green beans – pounds and pounds of them.

Directing the harvest was University of Arkansas Extension horticulture agent, Robin Bridges, and 4-H Program Assistant, Cynthia Ford, who have taken the Junction City students step by step through building, planning, planting and now, harvesting their garden.  HGHY has enjoyed the full participation of the Junction City Elementary staff from Principal Rebekah West, to the four classroom teachers – Jan Wilson, Dee McKinnon, Connie Hammett and Patricia Murray – to the cafeteria and custodial teams, providing a rich environment for the students to learn about healthy eating. Read more »

Community Members’ Viability, and Support from USDA Advance a South Dakota Rural Community

Expertise, vision, and commitment to see a project through are what put Wagner, South Dakota into the forefront.  The City of Wagner has a lot to celebrate with the open house for the repair and renovation of the Parkview Villa Apartments, and ribbon cuttings for both the Wagner Community Memorial Hospital and Wagner Early Childhood.  USDA Rural Development provided funding, measured with community members’ support towards these projects, and made them possible.

For example, Parkview Villa Apartments has been renovated to include six-two bedroom and 25-one bedroom apartments, roofing, siding, plumbing, electrical, flooring, windows, appliances, and handicap accessibility.  The project has experienced vacancy in recent years, but with the renovation and upgrades being made, it is anticipated that is will soon be fully occupied.  “This project is instrumental in providing quality, safe and affordable housing for the elderly of our community, housing they have earned and deserve.  I am extremely proud of our board, they saw a tremendous need and addressed it head on overcoming numerous obstacles,” said Bryan Slaba, President, Parkview Villa Inc. Read more »

Forest Service Waives Fees on National Public Lands Day

Visitors Hiking on Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming

Visitors Hiking on Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming

The crisp air and vivid colors of fall make forests especially welcoming this time of year. The Forest Service wants everyone to get out and enjoy the natural beautiful of America’s lands, so in observance of National Public Lands Day, on Saturday, Sept. 29, we will again waive the standard amenity fees for a full day at recreation sites nationwide.

This annual fee-waiver event is designed to instill a sense of shared stewardship and educate the public about the importance of natural resources. This is the third time this year the Forest Service is offering fee waivers. Read more »

Cochran Program Gives Fellow Courage to Succeed

Nguyen Thi Chi Linh is the owner of the Vietnamese agribusiness, Agri Commodities Company, which specializes in feed ingredient trading. Linh credits the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Cochran Fellowship Program for inspiring her to start her own company after she participated in the Cochran soybean and soybean purchasing meal course in 2004. Last year, she helped U.S. companies export more than $10 million of feed commodities to Vietnam.

Nguyen Thi Chi Linh is the owner of the Vietnamese agribusiness, Agri Commodities Company, which specializes in feed ingredient trading. Linh credits the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Cochran Fellowship Program for inspiring her to start her own company after she participated in the Cochran soybean and soybean purchasing meal course in 2004. Last year, she helped U.S. companies export more than $10 million of feed commodities to Vietnam.

Before Nguyen Thi Chi Linh participated in the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Cochran Fellowship Program in 2004, she was a manager for one of the three largest feed manufacturers in Vietnam. Today, she’s one of the country’s most successful agribusiness owners and importers of U.S. agricultural products.

Linh credits the Cochran program for helping her go from an employee to an employer. Since 1984, the program has provided U.S.-based training courses to agricultural experts from middle-income countries, emerging markets and emerging democracies. The program provides high-quality agricultural education to these fellows, which helps improve agricultural systems in their home countries and enhance U.S. trade relationships abroad. Read more »

Cover Crops Reduce Crop Loss During Drought

Farmers are the ultimate survivors.  By definition, their work requires incredible planning, but it also requires creativity. This year, farmers have faced the test of limited summer rains, which have lowered the productivity of many farmers’ yields.  With fall approaching, farmers have an opportunity to invest today for better outcomes next year by planting what are called “cover crops.” Not harvested like a main crop, cover crops are mowed to stay on top of the soil or disked in for soil improvements.

Cover crops offer a wide range of benefits: they “trap” nitrogen left behind by fertilizer in the field, which otherwise may be washed away over the winter. They conserve water, improve the quality of soil, suppress weeds, and control insect pests and erosion.  Cover crops can also provide an excellent source of animal feed during periods when drought has reduced forage.

USDA science counts conservation research as an important area, so our scientists continually study cover crops, including timely focus on the impacts of drought stress to reduce potential losses in U.S. production capacity.  Using a grant provided by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, researchers at Purdue University show that cover crops left on the soil surface after germination in spring will conserve soil moisture acting as a soil cover. This can increase crop yields in dry years and reduce year-to-year variability in yields. Read more »