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Secretary’s Column: Decades of Partnership in Research

Nearly 150 years ago – on July 2, 1862, just two months after the creation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture – President Lincoln signed another historic measure, the Morrill Act, which created the land grant university system.

Over the years, land grant colleges and universities have had a tremendously positive impact on our nation, graduating more than 20 million students. And in partnership with USDA, more than 100 land-grant institutions and other research partners have helped conduct the groundbreaking research that remains the envy of the world. Read more »

A Little Bit of Wetland Paradise

Left to Right, NRCS biologist Kristen Westad visits the wetland restoration area with landowner Elsbeth Fuchs on her Wisconsin farm.

Left to Right, NRCS biologist Kristin Westad visits the wetland restoration area with landowner Elsbeth Fuchs on her Wisconsin farm.

Elsbeth and Siegfried Fuchs, immigrants from Prussia, known nowadays as Germany, bought a 138-acre farm in Waterloo, Wisconsin. It was here they started dairy farming in 1964 and the couple farmed together until Siegfried passed away in 2008. Read more »

Air Force Reservists, National Guard, fly to fight wildfires with Forest Service

A Modular Airborne Firefighting unit is loaded aboard a North Carolina Air National Guard C-130. US Air Force photo.

A Modular Airborne Firefighting unit is loaded aboard a North Carolina Air National Guard C-130. US Air Force photo.

Flying C-130 Hercules aircraft and equipped with roll-on Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems (MAFFS) which dispense retardant, U.S. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard crews have been training around the country to help suppress wildfires this season. Read more »

Leave the Gypsy Moth Behind

With an estimated 40 million people moving each May, it’s no wonder this “very merry month” is recognized as National Moving Month.  If you plan to move this year, please don’t make a move until you check for the gypsy moth.

This invasive pest has altered the landscape in 19 States and the District of Columbia, and without your help, it threatens many more.  Since 1970, 75 million acres in the United States have been defoliated by the gypsy moth.  It’s an all too common scene in our forests: a barren, wintry look in the middle of summer.  The gypsy moth is known to feed on more than 300 trees and shrubs.  Left unchecked, an infestation of gypsy moth can defoliate up to 13 million acres of trees in one season. Read more »

A Multicultural Let’s Move! Weekend

First Lady Michelle Obama was thinking of Sam Shihadeh and Rose Fakhoury when she challenged faith-based and community organizations to appoint wellness ambassadors.  Sam, a personal trainer and council member of the Saint George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Washington DC, and Rose, the Director of St. George’s Sunday School, joined forces to lead, organize and take action to improve health and wellness in their community.  St. George Church hosted a Let’s Move! event on May 5th to get their community members eating healthy foods, moving and working to combat childhood obesity.

As a congregation inspired to fight obesity, the church practices what it preaches.  The event kicked off with children racing through an outdoor obstacle course.  During the day attendees heard from a diverse group of panelists such as doctors, personal trainers, and a registered dietitian, on the importance of leading a healthy life.  I joined Paul Monteiro of the White House Office of Public Engagement to share more about the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative. Read more »

USDA Hosts Tribal Collaboration Meeting in Nome, Alaska

Recently, representatives of USDA and other federal agencies held a collaboration meeting with the federally recognized tribes of the Bering Straits/Norton Sound Region in Alaska.

The meeting was the second in a series of Tribal Collaboration Meetings scheduled with federally recognized tribes in Alaska. The venue for the dialogue was the beautifully restored Old Saint Joe’s Church Community Center in Nome. Old Saint Joe’s is situated in Nome’s town center and proved to be a perfect site for this historic meeting between federal officials and tribal leaders. Read more »