Recently, I visited Tohono O’odham Community College, in Sells, AZ, one of the tribal colleges that the Department of Agriculture supports around the country to level the playing field and open the doors of higher education to more young people. The Tohono O’odham or “Desert People” live in the Sonoran Desert on tribal lands in the southern part of the state, bordering Mexico. The terrain is flat, dry desert and presents numerous agricultural challenges that USDA helps students address through research and hands-on training, teaching traditional scientific disciplines – but through the lens of the tribe’s needs and culture.
The college is doing a lot of work to keep their tribal language alive, providing language classes for all students. But science professor Dr. Teresa Newberry has taken that to a whole new level by building a Web-based database of plants that is built in three languages: English, Latin and Tohono O’odham. It’s the kind of project that integrates the native culture into learning in a practical, living way. Read more »
On my recent trip to Guatemala, I had the honor and pleasure to spend some quality time with my counterpart from Mexico, Dr. Enrique Sanchez Cruz and the Mexican Secretary of Agriculture, Francisco Mayorga.
We were in Guatemala to attend the MOSCAMED Med Fly Commission meeting and to sign an agreement between Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and the United States to continue the MOSCAMED program. The program is a cooperative effort with a focus on maintaining a barrier for the med fly pest in Central America through the production of sterile flies and the development of natural parasites and organic bait sprays. Read more »
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack speaks with elementary school students from Barnard Elementary in Northwest Washington D.C. about their participation in Project Learning Tree, a partnership conservation education program with the American Forest Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service (Photo by Chris Kleponis, LLC)
America’s forests and all the benefits they provide were cause for celebration at a special reception Wed., March 30 in Washington D.C. as part of America’s recognition of the U.N.’s Year of Forests 2011. Read more »
The LaFlammes in their greenhouse.
This winter, I had the opportunity to see an energy audit on a family farm near Amherst, Mass. Bruce LaFlamme and his son, Phil, had requested the audit to help them find ways to conserve heat and better insulate their greenhouse, where they grow vegetables year-round, as well as other plants during certain seasons. Read more »
Morning Star Foodie Brandon Brown inspects the donated cumquat bush he took charge of to ensure its proper care.
Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:
Back in January, we posted a blog about the Chefs Move to Schools initiative, called Chef Helps Special Needs School Children Explore New Foods. The story highlighted the efforts of Morning Star School, Orlando, Fla., and created a windfall of support in the local community for the Morning Star Foodies. The Morning Star Foodies are the special needs students involved in the school’s Let’s Move! program. Read more »
There is much we adults can learn from children, and one of them is being able to appreciate the simple things. I was at the Milwaukee Sign Language School in Milwaukee for a celebration of School Breakfast Week. I was thrilled by the students’ delight as Active Apple (Milwaukee Public Schools’ nutrition and fitness mascot) and Power Panther (USDA’s nutrition and fitness mascot) strolled into their classrooms.
The hearing-impaired students watched with rapt attention as their teachers signed to them about the mascots and special guests. All the children seemed thrilled with the Active Apple pins and bookmarks the special guests distributed to them. Best of all, they clearly liked the calming routine of picking up their breakfast bags and eating at their desks. The cold breakfast, served in a simple paper box, was simple yet satisfying, as evidenced by the disappearing Multi-grain Cheerios, milk, juice and cereal bars. Read more »