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Smokejumpers as “Beetle Busters”

USDA Forest Service Smokejumpers are trained to climb trees in case they, or their supplies, land in them.  When Smokejumpers aren’t fighting wildfires, the USDA Forest Service calls on them to use their tree climbing skills to complete a variety of natural resource management projects, such as harvesting pine cones and constructing owl nesting boxes.

USDA Forest Service Smokejumpers are trained to climb trees in case they, or their supplies, land in them. When Smokejumpers aren’t fighting wildfires, the USDA Forest Service calls on them to use their tree climbing skills to complete a variety of natural resource management projects, such as harvesting pine cones and constructing owl nesting boxes.

While many USDA Forest Service employees spend their summers working as Smokejumpers fighting wildfires in the west, they in turn spend their falls in the east working as Beetle Busters, helping the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) combat the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). Read more »

2011 Ag Outlook Forum Renewable Energy Sessions

USDA’s 2011 Agricultural Outlook Forum, Feb. 24-25, will present 25 breakout sessions, including two on energy: “Renewable Energy Policy Perspectives” and “Renewable Energy: Next Steps.”

The first session is policy oriented and will present an overview of existing policy such as implementation of the RFS2 and related issues such as the E15 and meeting future mandates.  The second speaker will focus on climate change and carbon sequestration related to the growth in renewable energy. A third speaker will discuss future directions, particularly the next farm bill and pending energy legislation. The speakers include: Paul N. Argyropoulos, Senior Policy Advisor, Office of Transportation & Air Quality, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency;   Bill Hohenstein, Director, Office of Global Climate Change, OCE, USDA; and Jerry Hagstrom of The Hagstrom Report. Harry Baumes, Director, OEPNU, OCE, USDA, will moderate the session.  Read more »

Looking Back on USDA’s Recovery Efforts in Haiti

Team in field (L-R): Emmanuel Prophete, MARNDR; Emily Spiegel, FAS; Jimmy Moore, NRCS; Denise Hann, Forest Service; and Mike McGahuey, FAS assigned to USAID.

Team in field (L-R): Emmanuel Prophete, MARNDR; Emily Spiegel, FAS; Jimmy Moore, NRCS; Denise Hann, Forest Service; and Mike McGahuey, FAS assigned to USAID.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti. The earthquake devastated the already fragile and poor country, killing more than 300,000 people, and brought economic activities to a standstill leaving the capital of Port au Prince in a condition that is almost unfathomable to most Americans. In the aftermath of the disaster, the focus on the U.S. government gradually switched from response to recovery. Read more »

Philipsburg, PA Residents Enjoy Downtown Library

The Children’s Library at the New Holt Memorial Library

The Children’s Library at the New Holt Memorial Library

Glowing smiles from the residents of Philipsburg, PA adorned the scene of a ribbon cutting ceremony marking the grand opening of the new downtown location of the Holt Memorial Library on a blustery evening in January. Through $261,500 in loans and $213,500 in grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act delivered through USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program, the Holt Memorial Library finally has a home to call its own. Read more »

New Geospatial Data Service Now Available

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) proudly serves as the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. What some may not realize is that NASS provides statistical information in a variety of formats beyond the traditional paper report, which dates back more than a century.

Just yesterday, NASS launched a new geospatial data service called CropScape. Operated by my team in NASS’s Research and Development Division, CropScape significantly eases users’ access to agricultural geospatial satellite products. By applying the best practices in science and technology, this service links space and agriculture. Read more »

Hoop House Hoopla

Sometimes those of us in Washington DC take ourselves too seriously.  I’ve fallen into that trap more than once.  So, when it came time to shoot our video on the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) hoop house offering, launched last year as part of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative, we decided to have some fun.  On a beautiful late November day, I joined White House chef Sam Kass to put small hoops over the garden beds at the First Lady’s garden.  This video captures the fun we had.

Dan Glickman, former Secretary of Agriculture, has always placed high value on humor.  Writing last August in the Wichita Eagle, he wrote:

One of the most underestimated tools in politics, leadership and life is a sense of humor — the ability to laugh not just at others but at ourselves. More than ever, we need humor’s deflationary influence in the nation’s capital. It’s an essential release valve, a check on all the overheated rhetoric and a bridge to real dialogue.

Mark Twain got it right when he said, “against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”

Humor alone can’t solve our problems. But it can open the door to greater civility, a little more humanity and some much-needed productivity in our nation’s governance.