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Supporting the Next Generation of Agriculture

All universities engage in research and teaching, but the nation’s more than 100 land-grant colleges and universities, have a third critical mission—extension.  “Extension” means “reaching out,” and—along with teaching and research—land-grant institutions extend their resources, solving public needs with college or university resources through non-formal, non-credit programs.

These programs are largely administered through thousands of county and regional extension offices, which bring land-grant expertise to the most local of levels.  And both the universities and their local offices are supported by NIFA, the federal partner in the Cooperative Extension System (CES). Read more »

USDA Georgia Staff Kicks off 2011 Growing Season by Planting a People’s Garden

Employees at the Stephens Federal Building in Athens, Georgia, celebrated the People’s Garden planted in April with an educational lunch session in the garden.

Deborah Callahan of USDA Rural Development and a recent graduate of Georgia’s Master Gardener program demonstrated composting and explained the function of red worms. Amanda Tedrow of Cooperative Extension Service answered questions about vegetable gardening. Kathy Peters A Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Earth Team volunteer was available to discuss plant propagation and distributing information on backyard conservation. Read more »

USDA Funding Improves Water Quality in a Nebraska Rural Community

USDA Rural Utilities Service Administrator Jonathan Adelstein joined USDA Rural Development Nebraska State Director Maxine Moul and staff in commemorating Earth Day last month with the residents of the City of Bayard, Nebraska.  The event celebrated the recent financing of a water improvement project that will serve the 1,200 residents of the city.

A water pipe was signed by each person instrumental to the project.  The city received a plaque from the administrator recognizing the awarding of funding from Rural Development.  Bayard school children participated in the event with a coloring contest and Earth Day readings. Read more »

U.S. Exporters Score in London, Thanks to USDA Programs

The United Kingdom (UK) has long played an important role in U.S. agricultural exports. This history dates back to the completion of the Erie Canal in the early 1800s, which linked the Great Lakes to the Atlantic seaboard, significantly increasing the export of food, particularly Midwestern wheat, to England.

To this day, the United Kingdom offers tremendous opportunities for U.S. agriculture and the United States exports more than $1.6 billion annually in agricultural, fish and forestry products to the UK. Many of these products are showcased each year during USDA-endorsed trade shows, such as the International Food Exhibition (IFE), which took place in London in March. Read more »

Finding Common Ground for Salmon and Sitka Deer

Newly hatched salmon.

Newly hatched salmon.

What do wild Alaskan salmon and Sitka black-tailed deer have in common? Other than playing starring roles on many Alaskans’ favorite dinner menus, they also both thrive in forests with large open canopies of hardwood and conifers with thick plant undergrowth. Such characteristics exist in mature forests but not in clear-cut areas.

Historically rich in fish and wildlife species, the Starrigavan Creek watershed in Sitka, Alaska, was clear-cut about 40 years ago by the state of Alaska for timber production, impacting fish and wildlife habitat in this popular local recreation area. Read more »

Michigan Chef Embraces First Lady’s “Chefs Move to Schools” Initiative

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:

In March 2011, USDA Special Nutrition Programs Regional Director Julie Mikkelson and I met Chef Paul Penney at a HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) award celebration in Canton, Michigan. Chef Paul, a volunteer with the First Lady’s Chefs Move to Schools initiative, was in the kitchen at Dodson Elementary School helping school foodservice staff prepare mashed sweet potatoes and apples and Michigan cherry chili.

Both dishes, recipes he created for the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools, were making their debut at Dodson that day. At the lunchroom entrance, Chef Paul greeted each student and handed out 2 ounce “tasting cups” of the chili and the sweet potatoes. (He credits Plymouth-Canton foodservice director Kristen Hennessey with the idea.) Read more »