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Connecting with Students, Shaping the Future of Agriculture

Fresno State University students Caitlin Guest (far left), Aki Dionisopoulos (center), and Amanda Jo Bettencourt (right) receive plaques from AMS.   These students were the 2011 recipients of the AMS Assistantship.  All three currently work with AMS.

Fresno State University students Caitlin Guest (far left), Aki Dionisopoulos (center), and Amanda Jo Bettencourt (right) receive plaques from AMS. These students were the 2011 recipients of the AMS Assistantship. All three currently work with AMS.

Fall is just around the corner and students across the country are back in school. At the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), we are looking forward to our own school year activities. Read more »

Bringing Fresh Food to Hartford, Connecticut

MRP Under Secretary Edward Avalos with Bob Pellegrino, Director of Marketing, Connecticut Department of Agriculture at the Billings Forge Farmers Market, Hartford, CT.”

MRP Under Secretary Edward Avalos with Bob Pellegrino, Director of Marketing, Connecticut Department of Agriculture at the Billings Forge Farmers Market, Hartford, CT.

During my recent visit to Hartford, I toured the historic Billings Forge Farmers Market, which featured an assortment of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, baking foods, cheeses, meats and numerous other healthy foods.  Located in a food desert, the market positively compliments the “Bodegas” by providing WIC eligible food products. Read more »

Chinese Officials Learn About U.S. Soybean Industry in Week-long Agriculture Tour

The maintenance manager at Continental Grain & Barge (CGB) in Utica, Illinois explains how storage is done at their soybean facility.

The maintenance manager at Continental Grain & Barge (CGB) in Utica, Illinois explains how storage is done at their soybean facility.

Last week, six officials from China’s Ministry of Agriculture arrived in America’s heartland to begin an in-depth exploration of the workings of the U.S. soybean industry. Read more »

Youth Conservation Crew Clears a Path for Outdoor Learning in South Carolina

Forest Service Hydrology Technician Jay Swafford describes some of the unusual trail features the school envisions for the future.

Forest Service Hydrology Technician Jay Swafford describes some of the unusual trail features the school envisions for the future.

In today’s technological society, children have retreated from outdoor activities — bike riding, tree climbing or clinging to a rope swing to drop into a river -towards entirely virtual activities, indoor adventures at the end of a power cord.

A few years ago, researchers and educators gave this trend a name: nature deficit disorder. Read more »

USDA Addresses Greater Outreach to Asian American Pacific Islander Communities

Last week, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and the Office of Human Resources and Management hosted the USDA-Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Roundtable in Washington, D.C.

The USDA-AAPI Roundtable brought together over 70 participants, including over 35 AAPI community organizations and leaders, 6 Congressional offices, 5 AAPI business leaders and chambers of commerce, 3 media outlets, various academicians and 25 USDA officials. Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Judy Chu opened the event applauding USDA’s efforts to establish partnerships between Congress and USDA to better increase AAPI outreach. USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan made introductory remarks discussing the need for diversity at USDA and the developments at USDA to address greater outreach to AAPI communities.  USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack provided keynote remarks highlighting USDA’s plan to increase diversity efforts to better reflect the face of America through the implementation of the USDA Cultural Transformation Initiative. Read more »

Who Will Get the First Bath?

Recently, I had the pleasure to travel to the rural Alaskan communities of Kwigillingok, Kasigluk, and Pitkas Point.  The visit was made along with Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Administrator Jonathan Adelstein, Alaska State Director Jim Nordlund, and a few of our major program partners.  As with other trips, the site visits to these communities were a reminder of why the Rural Alaska Village grant program and other Rural Development programs are so vital to rural communities.

The water and wastewater conditions in these three villages and other Alaskan communities are staggering. Drinking water is hauled from local watering points, which clearly do not meet safe drinking water standards.  Wastewater is hauled by utilizing honey buckets.  The same path that kids play and walk to and from school, is the same route that individuals routinely walk with their five gallon buckets  of wastewater to honey bucket transfer stations. Read more »