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Celebrating 100 Years of Washington, DC’s Cherry Blossoms

Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Arboretum – Inspection of original shipment of cherry trees in January 1910

Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Arboretum – Inspection of original shipment of cherry trees in January 1910

Since 1912, the beautiful pink and white blossoms of the Tidal Basin’s Japanese cherry trees have been one of our national Capital’s most iconic images. For Washingtonians, cherry blossoms herald the beginning of spring and a reprieve, albeit brief, between frosty winter weather (although this winter, not so much) and the sweaty, swampy conditions of summertime. Tourists flock from around the world to the National Cherry Blossom Festival, snapping photographs and attending events across the city. Yet few people realize that DC’s now ubiquitous cherry trees would never have reached America without a little help from USDA. Read more »

Minnesota FSA Collaborates on $2 Million Project to Reach Minority Farmers

The Minnesota Farm Service Agency (FSA) wants to overcome the obstacles faced in reaching minority farmers and ranchers. So they have collaborated with area businesses and non-profit organizations to help meet their goal.

“We realize that this will not be a fast process but we are hoping to make steady progress,” said FSA State Executive Director Linda Hennen.

Minnesota FSA has teamed up with AgStar Financial Services and Farmers Legal Action Group (FLAG), to provide capital to small and socially disadvantaged producers that want to start or expand their agricultural operation. AgStar set aside $2 million toward the initiative and has been working with FSA to reach the minority population in the state. Read more »

Arizona Ranching Family Are Long-Time Conservationists

John King standing with wife, Pat, son Joe, and daughter-in-law Sarah.

John King standing with wife, Pat, son Joe, and daughter-in-law Sarah.

Anvil Ranch, one hour southwest of Tucson, Ariz. in Altar Valley, is a fourth-generation operation in the heart of cattle country.

“Ranching is what we do,” says Joe King, who is the youngest of the four children of owners John and Pat King. All four of the kids ranch, although Joe and his wife, Sarah, are the only ones who live and work on Anvil Ranch. Ranching is what the Kings do—and so is conservation. Read more »

USDA Participates in the UN Commission on the Status of Women

Rebecca Blue, Acting Deputy Undersecretary for MRP; Janie Hip, Senior Advisor to the Secretary on Tribal Affairs; and Kisha Davis, White House Fellow were excited to represent USDA on the US delegation to the UN for the 56th Commission on the Status of Women. The theme this year was the empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication.  Agriculture plays a key role in the lives of rural women both domestically and abroad and it is important that USDA be at the table when these discussions are taking place.

The central product of the conference is to create Agreed Conclusions on the theme which provides recommendations for action by government, intergovernmental bodies, civil society, and other relevant stakeholders.  These can and should be implemented at the international, national, regional and local levels.  The main themes from this year’s Agreed Conclusions are to recognize and strengthen the role of rural women in agriculture; ensure rural women’s access to production resources, technology, markets and financing; to promote decent and productive employment and income-generating opportunities for rural women; enhance infrastructure and service-delivery that benefits rural women; recognize rural women’s role in natural resource management and climate change adaptation; and create effective institutions and enabling policy environments that promote gender responsive rural development.  The goals are far reaching, but attainable. Read more »

Relationships Can Make a World of Difference in a Home Owner’s Life

Home owner Clara High Elk (l) with Rural Development Area Specialist Paula Corcoran.

Home owner Clara High Elk (l) with Rural Development Area Specialist Paula Corcoran.

Home owner, Clara High Elk, Dupree, SD was thrilled to see the new fixtures installed in her bathroom.  Through a USDA Rural Development 504 Rural Housing Repair and Rehabilitation loan and grant, updates were made to the 90 year olds house to make the bathroom handicapped accessible, replace storm doors and fix broken windows. Read more »

Smokey Bear to Appear at 2012 White House Easter Egg Roll Event on South Lawn

For nearly 70 years, Smokey Bear has been a fixture in America’s history as the stalwart defender of our forests and his “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires” resonates no matter how young or old you are.

So it is apropos that Smokey will help entertain children during the 2012 White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn. The 134th annual event kicks off April 9 with the theme, Let’s Go! Let’s Play!, Let’s Move!, a reference to First Lady Michelle Obama’s initiative to encourage healthy activities for children.

More than 35,000 people are expected to attend the day-long event. Activities will include egg rolling, sports courts, cooking demonstrations and “meet and greets” with Smokey and a host of other characters.

Smokey has been immortalized as a wildfire prevention symbol since 1944.

The Forest Service Conservation Education Program works closely with Smokey and other programs, such as the Junior Forest Ranger, to instill in young people their responsibility in helping to protect our natural resources. To find out more about the many programs designed for children and young adults, contact the Forest Service Conservation Education office.