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Secretary’s Column: Encouraging Americans to Enjoy the Great Outdoors

As we look ahead to the coming years, I know that rural America has unlimited capacity to continue providing a great deal for every American – including even more opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors.

We know that many Americans deeply value outdoor recreation. According to industry estimates more than 140 million Americans participate in some outdoor recreation activity annually.  In fact, more than 38 percent of American adults participate in hunting and fishing alone.

These opportunities are important for those living in our cities, and for their families. Outdoor recreation helps us all to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors – from parks, to trails, to lakes and forests. Meanwhile, getting outdoors allows us to instill a love and appreciation of the environment for our youngsters. Read more »

USDA Mississippi Employees Contribute Time, Effort on Martin Luther King Day of Service

Earlier this month, all Mississippi agencies and staff were invited to participate in USDA’s Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service by volunteering two hours of their time to a non-profit organization of their choice. Three USDA Rural Development Mississippi State Office employees, Jennifer Jimerson, Ericka Butler, and Michelle Wilkerson volunteered at Stewpot Community Services in Jackson, serving meals for lunch.

The very heart of Stewpot is the noon meal its staff and volunteers serve each day of the year. This meal serves as the center of each day as well as the heart of the Stewpot philosophy. Rich and poor, black and white … all God’s children come together over a nourishing meal. More than 120 people a day are physically and spiritually fed in the community kitchen and 50 meals are delivered to shut-ins in the area. Volunteers are always needed to lend a hand in the Stewpot Community Kitchen. Read more »

Retiree Improves and Diversifies Kentucky Farm for Future Generations

Left: Larry Woods checking for growth a few weeks after the first field seeding this summer. Right: Larry in the same field just a few months later.

Left: Larry Woods checking for growth a few weeks after the first field seeding this summer. Right: Larry in the same field just a few months later.

Larry Woods dedicated 36 years of his life to education in Kentucky. After a successful career as a teacher, coach and administrator, last year Larry retired to his Garrard County family farm, which he plans to develop into a full working operation for his children and grandchildren to enjoy.

Woods was raised on the 100-acre farm, and a love of farming, hunting, fishing and living off the land comes naturally for him. But when he returned to his farm, he quickly realized that keeping track of his 30 head of Charolais cattle was a next-to-impossible task. He spent countless hours rounding up the herd from ridgetop pastures and steep valleys full of tree and brush. Read more »

Alaskan Brewery Caps Bottles and Costs with USDA Energy Grant

Using a first-of-its-kind steam boiler fueled by spent grain, the Alaskan Brewing Company in Juneau will reduce its use of fuel oil by over 65 percent.  The boiler was funded in part through the USDA Rural Energy for America (REAP) Program.   Photo credit: Alaska Brewing Company photo.

Using a first-of-its-kind steam boiler fueled by spent grain, the Alaskan Brewing Company in Juneau will reduce its use of fuel oil by over 65 percent. The boiler was funded in part through the USDA Rural Energy for America (REAP) Program. Photo credit: Alaska Brewing Company photo.

In Alaska, it’s all about great beer and the Alaska Brewing Company, LLC (ABC) in Juneau is the 12th largest craft brewery by sales volume in the U.S.  According to their website, the Alaskan Brewing Company became the 67th operating brewery in the United States and the only brewery in Alaska in 1986. Read more »

Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Aldo Leopold

Aldo Leopold seated on rimrock above the Rio Gavilan in northern Mexico while on a bow hunting trip in 1938. (Photo courtesy Aldo Leopold Foundation)

Aldo Leopold seated on rimrock above the Rio Gavilan in northern Mexico while on a bow hunting trip in 1938. (Photo courtesy Aldo Leopold Foundation)

Over his 40-year career as a forester, scientist, teacher, and writer, Aldo Leopold brought a greater understanding of our relationship with the natural world at a time when the technological advances of the 20th century increasingly shut people off from their surroundings. Read more »

NRCS Staff Brings Mississippi Needles to Oregon Native Americans

NRCS Soil Conservation Technician Allen Hughes mails longleaf pine needles from the forest in his Miss. backyard to Oregon to be used to make baskets, a Native American tradition across the U.S.

NRCS Soil Conservation Technician Allen Hughes mails longleaf pine needles from the forest in his Miss. backyard to Oregon to be used to make baskets, a Native American tradition across the U.S.

Members of the Puget Salish Tribe in the Northwest are now using Southeastern longleaf pine needles from Mississippi to build baskets, all because of a connection made between two employees of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)—from the Gulf Coast to the West Coast. Read more »