Local media had a glimpse into one of the largest biofuels plants in the United States and the high-profile biofuels production industry last week. Inside HERO BX in Erie, Penn., camera crews rolled video and snapped photos of energy’s future—the conversion of materials like animal fat and vegetable oil into bio-diesel.
HERO BX received over $275,000 in payments from USDA Rural Development’s Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels to support and ensure an expanding production and distribution of advanced biofuels in rural areas. Through programs like this, we are working to increase the production of biofuels to help meet the President’s goal of achieving a one-third cut to foreign oil imports and in turn, out-build and out-innovate global competitors. Read more »
Connor Stack, a youth volunteer for the National Children's Forest in California, teaches other children about coyotes. Stack and other children help to operate the National Children's Forest, a collaboration between the San Bernardino National Forest and the National Forest Association. It is the oldest among four Children's Forests associated with the Forest Service. On April 4, the agency and the USDA announced plans to add nine Children's Forests to create a national network.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Monday the infusion of $1 million from the current U.S. Forest Service budget toward projects and programs that get kids outside to experience the great outdoors, connect with nature and help nurture future land stewards.
The two programs receiving funding through this announcement will reach tens of thousands of young people this year, and support the goals of both President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative.
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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 »