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Escargot? More like Escar-No!

Giant African snails can reach up to 8 inches in length and nearly 5 inches in diameter—about the size of an average adult fist—and can live up to nine years. In a typical year, mated adults lay about 1,200 eggs.

Giant African snails can reach up to 8 inches in length and nearly 5 inches in diameter—about the size of an average adult fist—and can live up to nine years. In a typical year, mated adults lay about 1,200 eggs.

For the past several months, USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)  and its partners at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) have been fighting to stop the spread of the giant African snail—a nasty invasive pest that threatens Florida’s agricultural sector. Read more »

Life is a Truck Farm

DC Truck Farm is a collaborative effort between D.C. Central Kitchen (DCCK) and USDA’s People’s Garden Initiative. Now in its second year, this garden on wheels travels around the Nation’s Capital teaching urban youth about agriculture, soil science and nutrition education. It got moving thanks to the support of many partners in the DC metropolitan area.

We recently caught up with the District’s very own truck farmers at DCCK to capture their first planting of the season, to ask about lessons learned last year and to talk plans for 2012. Read more »

United We Stand—In Support of Fish Habitat

The new box culvert and open channel to Long Island Sound, which restored fish passage and tidal flows to the salt marsh. Volunteers installed the dune grass plantings.

The new box culvert and open channel to Long Island Sound, which restored fish passage and tidal flows to the salt marsh. Volunteers installed the dune grass plantings.

We have a lot to learn from nature about teamwork. In fact, natural systems prove time and again that the intricate partnerships between air, water, soil, nutrients and plant and animal species breed success. So why, whether a singular agency, organization or landowner, would we ever think that we could “fix” a problem like fish habitat degradation alone? Read more »

Dedicated Volunteers Help Care for Alabama’s Talladega National Forest

Volunteers on the Talladega National Forest work to help keep forest recreation areas like the Pine Glen campgrounds clean and ready for visitors.  U.S. Forest Service photo.

Volunteers on the Talladega National Forest work to help keep forest recreation areas like the Pine Glen campgrounds clean and ready for visitors. U.S. Forest Service photo.

Volunteers play an integral part in helping the Forest Service reach its annual goals in managing healthy national forests.  And on Alabama’s Talladega National Forest, three exceptional volunteers have dedicated countless hours towards this work:  John Calhoun, Ray Bittle and Charles Laminack. Read more »

Got (Enough) Vitamin D?

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

April, the springboard to warm, sunny weather, is National Minority Health Month—a good time to focus on the sun, vitamin D insufficiency for African-Americans, and the ways that monitoring its intake have improved.

Vitamin D is primarily produced by exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. However, African-Americans have more melanin in their skin, resulting in the reduction of the body’s ability to make the vitamin from sun exposure. Read more »

Michigan Earth Team Volunteer Enjoys Giving Back

Twice a week, Susan Anderson volunteers a morning or afternoon at the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Big Rapids, Mich. She calls it “giving back.” As a member of NRCS’ Earth Team, the agency’s volunteer workforce, Anderson assists clients, files and helps staff inventory and analyze the resource concerns of area farmers and landowners.

Anderson started volunteering with NRCS seven years ago, shortly after retiring from the Michigan Department of Education, where she was director of School Support Services, with statewide responsibilities and a budget of $500 million a year. She administered Michigan’s non-academic education programs, including child nutrition, food distribution, drivers’ education and pupil transportation. Read more »