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Tapping Renewable Energy Potential at Airports

Converting airport grasslands to biofuel, solar or wind production may not only provide more environmentally sound alternative energy sources, but also increase revenue for airports and reduce the local abundance of wildlife hazardous to aircraft.  U. S. Department of Agriculture research is helping shed light on this promising concept. USDA photo by David Bergman.

Converting airport grasslands to biofuel, solar or wind production may not only provide more environmentally sound alternative energy sources, but also increase revenue for airports and reduce the local abundance of wildlife hazardous to aircraft. U. S. Department of Agriculture research is helping shed light on this promising concept. USDA photo by David Bergman.

Most people are familiar with the weekly summer ritual of mowing the lawn.  At best, the smell of fresh cut grass is appealing, but often the task is considered time consuming, tiring and expensive.  What if your “lawn” was actually hundreds of acres in size, and how often you mowed it, what type of grass you had, and if you used pesticides greatly impacted the safety of nearby residents?  “Mowing the lawn” is just one of the tasks airport managers and biologists confront as they work to keep wildlife away from runways and aircraft. Read more »

NCAA Final Four Basketball Court Comes from American Indian Reservation

Forest to Final Four Floor. Photo by Jack Gruber, USA TODAY Staff

Forest to Final Four Floor. Photo by Jack Gruber, USA TODAY Staff

It’s time for the NCAA Men’s Final Four — and all eyes are usually glued to the action on the court.  But this year special attention is being paid to the actual court itself.

This ‘Court of Champions’ comes from the Menominee Forest and Menominee Tribal Enterprises in Wisconsin.  It all began with a maple tree which provided the amazing physical properties that are perfect for the court.  The wood is beautiful, tough and does not splinter or sliver. Read more »

Farmer Does as Teacher Says – All in One

If you teach it, you must live it.  That is the wisdom Steven R. Kochemba adheres to.

Kochemba is a science teacher and the athletic director for the Joseph Badger School District in Trumbull County north of Youngstown, Ohio.  He’s also a farmer.

Among his other science courses, Kochemba teaches 8th and 9th graders about energy conservation.  While doing research for his classes, “I ran across information about BCAP,” says the educator. Read more »

Rural Energy for America Program Helps a Minnesota Lumber Company Cut Energy Costs

Freeborn Lumber Company owner John Miller and USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer inside the room that operates Freeborn’s geothermal system.  The system was installed with support from USDA Rural Development.

Freeborn Lumber Company owner John Miller and USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer inside the room that operates Freeborn’s geothermal system. The system was installed with support from USDA Rural Development.

John Miller got the call at 12:45 a.m. on Sept. 7, 2007.

Freeborn Lumber Company – the business John’s grandfather bought in 1946 and John purchased from his father in 1986 – was burning to the ground.  Less than 30 minutes later, the nearly 100-year-old building was destroyed. Lightning struck a phone line next to a gas line and that was it. Firefighters arrived less than five minutes after getting called, but there was nothing they could do. Read more »

Urban Farm Supports Local Community

Located in the heart of a “food desert” in the city of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Joshua Farm is a unique one-acre operation that is growing produce for locals through the use of a seasonal high tunnel.

Founder Kirsten Reinford and daughter Havah at Joshua Farm, a unique one-acre operation in Harrisburg, Penn., that grows over 40 varieties of fresh produce for local families.

Founder Kirsten Reinford and daughter Havah at Joshua Farm, a unique one-acre operation in Harrisburg, Penn., that grows over 40 varieties of fresh produce for local families.

The high tunnel (also known as a “hoop house”) makes urban farming possible and extends the growing season. Joshua Farm installed its high tunnel with the help of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Read more »

USDA Works to Reduce Its Environmental Footprint – Here’s How

Did you know that USDA manages 193 million acres of land; occupies approximately 89 million square feet of office and laboratory space and operates over 23,000 buildings?  And if this isn’t enough, USDA also operates a fleet of over 40,000 motor vehicles and equipment.

Photo of green roof on court 5 of the South Building.  Saves energy and reduces excessive stormwater runoff (which supports our efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay).

Photo of green roof on court 5 of the South Building. Saves energy and reduces excessive stormwater runoff (which supports our efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay).

With statistics like these, it is no wonder that USDA remains focused on reducing its rather significant environmental footprint by using clean energy while working towards improving the environment.   To accomplish this, USDA conducts its operations in a sustainable manner, complies with environmental laws and regulations and walks its talk. Read more »