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Chef Lovely Helps Chicago Students Win the Future

Students at Chicago’s Mark Sheridan Math & Science Academy sampled—and enjoyed—nutritious food prepared by Chef Lovely Jackson as part of a Chefs Move to Schools event on April 5th.

Students at Chicago’s Mark Sheridan Math & Science Academy sampled—and enjoyed—nutritious food prepared by Chef Lovely Jackson as part of a Chefs Move to Schools event on April 5th.

Chicago is fortunate to have a bevy of talented chefs and also to be the hometown for the Healthy Schools Campaign, a national organization that advocates for policies and practices that allow students, teachers and staff to learn and work in a healthy school environment. Read more »

Faces of the Forest Celebrates Warren Heilman

Warren Heilman is riveted by numbers, especially those that tell the story of how weather affects wildfires.

Heilman is a U.S. Forest Service meteorologist who conducts studies at the Northern Research Stations’ East Lansing, Mich. office. His work on how weather impacts fire behavior helps firefighters and fire managers better understand how fires spread across the landscape.

His research leads him down seemingly endless lists of questions for which answers are sometimes elusive. Read more »

Wood to Energy – Removing Woody Biomass from National Forests Helps Local Economies

The USDA Forest Service Woody Biomass Utilization Team promotes and guides the removal of woody biomass from national forests. Removal of woody biomass from forests provides a variety of critical benefits for rural economies from wood to energy projects to overall ecosystem health. Woody biomass is used in bioenergy facilities that use commercially proven technologies to produce thermal, electrical or liquid/gaseous bioenergy.

Because climate change is having profound and significant impacts on the nation’s forests and rangelands, demands for renewable energy and bio-based biofuels products is increasing exponentially. Forests also play an important role in sequestering carbon, thereby reducing the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Read more »

Earth Team Turns a Neglected Area of a Fairground into a Native Plant Demonstration Garden

California Earth Team volunteers plant some of the 250 species of native trees and shrubs planned for a 2,000-sq.-foot demonstration garden in Mariposa County. The garden will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and is expected to host thousands of visitors.

California Earth Team volunteers plant some of the 250 species of native trees and shrubs planned for a 2,000-sq.-foot demonstration garden in Mariposa County. The garden will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and is expected to host thousands of visitors.

Earth Team volunteers have helped transform a neglected area at a county fairground into an attraction experts say will help boost tourism and the local economy in Mariposa, Calif.

Earth Team is the name given to USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service volunteers. They work side by side with NRCS employees on conservation projects to improve their local environment. Read more »

Getting Kids off to the Right Start with Water and Milk!

When the First Lady kicked off the Let’s Move! initiative last year, she said that her primary goal is to end childhood obesity. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act gets to the heart of this effort by helping schools, parents, and communities make health and nutrition a priority for kids.  Among the law’s many reforms, schools that participate in the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) school lunch program will have to make drinking water available for free to students in the cafeteria during lunch.  With this change we want to make the healthy choice the easy choice for our kids.

Schools must also offer at least two choices of low fat or fat free milk.  These changes are consistent with what is recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, just updated earlier this year. The Dietary Guidelines are a set of science-based recommendations that include many tips for improving health and wellness. Read more »

Renewable Energy Flex Fuel Options Discussed in Missouri

To “flex” or not, that is a good question.  I own a flexible fuel vehicle and have for several years and as a Government Agency, Rural Development has government owned vehicles that accommodate flexible fuel.  As State Director, I travel throughout Missouri and even though I have the appropriate vehicle and even though there is an adequate supply of renewable fuels, there is an inadequate number of service stations that have flexible fuel pumps.  Compound this with the desire to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and make our nation more environmentally clean, you can imagine my reaction when Rural Development announced a program as part of the solution to address these issues.

There was excitement in Jefferson City, Missouri’s State Capitol, when Judith Canales, Administrator for USDA Rural Development Rural Business-Cooperative Programs kicked off  Rural Development’s  Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) workshop on flex-fuel options.  Canales informed the 45 people in attendance that grants are available to provide fuel station owners with incentives to install flexible fuel pumps that will offer Americans more renewable energy options. Read more »