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Strategic Partners Collaborate for Jobs and Healthy Communities in Southeast Alaska

“Heaven on Earth” – it’s the popular sentiment of residents living in Southeast Alaska.  If you’ve ever taken an Alaskan cruise no doubt it was through the Southeast Panhandle where miles of wild beauty delights the eye.

It’s no wonder Southeast Alaska is a premier destination for U.S. and international travelers.  With that in mind, it may come as a surprise this singularly picturesque region has endured an economic hardship that continues to loom over its residents.  Since the downturn of the once thriving timber industry the majority of rural communities in Southeast have experienced a downturn in their local economy along with declining populations, fewer job opportunities and increasing energy costs. Read more »

Food Safety This Holiday Season

Cross posted from the White House blog:

With the holiday season in full swing, many of us are thinking about the meals we’ll soon be sharing with family and friends.  Whether it’s turkey and egg nog, or latkes, or a New Year’s buffet, food is always a central and cherished part of the festivities. Of course, we all know that a necessary ingredient for any meal is food safety.

When the President came into office, he said that “protecting the safety of our food and drugs is one of the most fundamental responsibilities government has.” He pledged to strengthen our food safety laws and to enhance the government’s food safety performance. Read more »

DC Quake Rocked the District, but the Tweets Rolled On

Number seven on our list of Social Media Moments was our August Twitter chat with Food and Nutrition Service’s Under Secretary, Kevin Concannon and ABC’s Dr. Richard Besser.  This edition of Dr. Besser’s weekly live chat addressed hunger in America and allowed audience members to pose questions to Under Secretary Concannon via Twitter. This was a great opportunity for us as we opened our virtual doors to many individuals who might not otherwise be able to “speak” directly to our key official on the issue.

Although the Under Secretary and other agency leadership often travel to schools, food banks, community centers and other venues to talk about hunger and nutrition issues, this Twitter chat was a little bit different.  This wasn’t a planned speech or a more common scheduled Tweet from our blog. The Twitter chat was Concannon having a conversation with people he had never met but who gathered virtually around an important issue. Sitting in the room around our laptop with the Tweet-stream projected on the wall, we were able to use our well-established Twitter channel in a more nimble and free-flowing manner, rather than just a broadcast. Read more »

Ag Producers Improve Two Coastal Bayous in Mississippi Through New Gulf of Mexico Initiative

Mississippi’s Gulf Coast is a major environmental and economic resource. Conservationists have worked to improve beaches and coastal rivers, including the planting of sea oats in past years.

Mississippi’s Gulf Coast is a major environmental and economic resource. Conservationists have worked to improve beaches and coastal rivers, including the planting of sea oats in past years.

For Kiln, Miss. resident David Koch, there’s a lot of truth to the expression “everything runs downstream.” Koch’s land borders Rotten Bayou, and he has made great strides to ensure no pollutants wash off his land and into the bayou, which feeds the Gulf of Mexico. Read more »

A Year in the Office of the Chief Scientist

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

2011 is the first full calendar year that the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) has been staffed and running. First established by the 2008 Farm Bill, the OCS has since been filled out with senior advisors and agency scientists working with USDA’s Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics (REE) Dr. Catherine Woteki. Together, they coordinate and translate the science of USDA research agencies into meaningful products and communicate to USDA stakeholders and the general public about USDA science. Here is what OCS has achieved this past year: Read more »

USDA Course Improves Training for Agricultural Development in Afghanistan

USDA agricultural advisors, members of the Wisconsin National Guard and members of the 401st Civil Affairs Battalion learn about irrigation techniques used in Afghanistan while participating in Agricultural Development for Afghanistan Pre-deployment Training (ADAPT) in San Luis Obispo, Calif. from Dec. 12-16.  The week-long course taught the students about farming practices currently used in Afghanistan and ways to help improve efficiency and increase production. Photo by Ryan Brewster, USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service

USDA agricultural advisors, members of the Wisconsin National Guard and members of the 401st Civil Affairs Battalion learn about irrigation techniques used in Afghanistan while participating in Agricultural Development for Afghanistan Pre-deployment Training (ADAPT) in San Luis Obispo, Calif. from Dec. 12-16. The week-long course taught the students about farming practices currently used in Afghanistan and ways to help improve efficiency and increase production. Photo by Ryan Brewster, USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service

This year, USDA helped create and is funding a standardized training course for individuals going to Afghanistan to support agricultural revitalization efforts. Read more »