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Upstate South Carolina Community is Safeguarded from Flooding

The finished dam.

The finished dam.

Residents who live in the Whitewater Lake Watershed in upstate South Carolina are now protected from dangerous flood waters after heavy rain events, thanks to the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program. Read more »

California Wine Industry Celebrates 35th Anniversary of the ‘Judgment in Paris’

If we’ve learned anything from the ‘Judgment in Paris,’ it is that competition is a good thing and it pushes producers to improve their products overtime. On May 20, the Wine Institute of California partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) office in Berlin to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the ‘Judgment in Paris’.

The tasting in Germany took place at the picturesque U.S. Embassy in Berlin, overlooking Berlin’s Brandenburg gate. It was led by sommelier Gunnar Tietz from Berlin’s Palace Hotel and Christine Berthold from the Wine Institute of California. U.S. Ambassador Philip D. Murphy kicked off the event, noting that global competition has made good wines available to more people than ever before. Participants included German wine trade journalists, bloggers, and culinary press. Read more »

A Renewable Energy Program Helps a Wisconsin Farm Family Conserve and Make a Profit

View of the Priske Farm, with USDA funded wind generator, from the restored prairie field.

View of the Priske Farm, with USDA funded wind generator, from the restored prairie field.

Last week I had the opportunity to witness, firsthand, a good example of how rural farm families can overcome the challenges of a changing rural economy and create a promising and sustainable future on the land. Read more »

South Dakota USDA Staff Unites to Fund Fight Against Cancer

The USDA Rural Development, Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service staff in Rapid City, South Dakota, combined efforts to raise money for Relay for Life in memory of a former co-worker and friend, Rural Development Specialist Jim Jirsa.  He was diagnosed with cancer in June 2010 and died on October 31, 2010.  In memory of Jim, local staff donated food and served lunch at the USDA office earlier this month.  The staff also participated in a variety of other fundraising events.

The staff raised approximately $4,200 for the event and the funds will go toward cancer research and cancer patient services.  The USDA staff was awarded a silver medal for their efforts in fund raising. Read more »

USDA Forest Service Helping to take Sting out of Bugs

How do you turn biting, stinging, pantry raiding, picnic ruining pests into pollinating, irrigating, aerating, fertilizing, ecosystem balancing helpers? … By educating as many people as possible about the role of bugs in the environment.

One of the responsibilities of the U.S. Forest Service is to inform the public about the value of insects in helping to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands.

With many people either afraid of or grossed out by bugs, changing their negative image is a challenge. However, a partnership between the Forest Service Southern Research Station and Kent House, in Alexandria, La., is demonstrating a growing public interest in insects. Read more »

Chicago Celebrates “Go for the Gold” in Food and Fitness

How many mascots does it take to turn a school assembly into a celebration?  Well, on June 7, not one, not two, but a total of SEVEN mascots rocked the Chicago Public Schools’ “Go for the Gold” HealthierUS School Challenge celebration at Walsh Elementary School. Three major Chicago sports teams sent their mascots to delight the kids and support the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative. Benny the Bull of the Chicago Bulls, Staley Da Bear (Chicago Bears) and DIBS (De Paul University Blue Demons basketball) brought down the house, with Benny shooting a basket from clear across the gym and Staley and DIBS battling it out on the drums.

Joining the merriment were USDA’s Power Panther and three mascots from Chartwells Hospitality (CPS school meals provider). Univision TV reporter Enrique Rodriguez and emcee extraordinaire kept the mascots on their toes and had the entire gym shouting “Eat Smart…Play Hard…Let’s Move!…Go for the Gold!” Read more »