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NRCS Celebrates 75 Years by Honoring Its Founder

Robert Snieckus (left), National Landscape Architect, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Andree Duvarney (center), Special Assistant to the Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Brian Symmes (right), “Eight Oaks” plant a progeny of one of the original oaks at “Eight Oaks” the home of Dr. Hugh Hammond Bennett the first Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service then the Soil Erosion Service at Dr. Bennett’s home in McLean, Virginia on Friday, October 15, 2010  as part of the celebration for the 75th Anniversary of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The trunk of the oak tree behind has an approximate age of 350 years. USDA Photo 10di1524-4 by Bob Nichols.

Robert Snieckus (left), National Landscape Architect, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Andree Duvarney (center), Special Assistant to the Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Brian Symmes (right), “Eight Oaks” plant a progeny of one of the original oaks at “Eight Oaks” the home of Dr. Hugh Hammond Bennett the first Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service then the Soil Erosion Service at Dr. Bennett’s home in McLean, Virginia on Friday, October 15, 2010 as part of the celebration for the 75th Anniversary of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The trunk of the oak tree behind has an approximate age of 350 years.

Seventy-five years ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Soil Conservation Service, now the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), was established largely because of the efforts of one determined individual—Hugh Hammond Bennett. Bennett served as the agency’s first chief for more than 15 years, tirelessly working to educate others about the seriousness of soil erosion. On Friday, October 15, nearly 20 NRCS employees and friends took time off from work and to be Earth Team volunteers, planting oak seedlings, azaleas and phlox in Hugh Hammond Bennett’s memory at his former home. Read more »

Cooperative Development Provides ‘Last Chance’ for Rural Montana Café

Last Chance Café manager Peggy Tobin shows off a homemade apple pie baked by a volunteer co-op member.

Last Chance Café manager Peggy Tobin shows off a homemade apple pie baked by a volunteer co-op member.

It is an iconic fixture of rural America – the local diner. Not just a restaurant, but a social hub for a community, and when the local café in Sunburst, Montana closed in 2007 it seemed one more nail in the coffin of a small town facing decline. Read more »

Settlement with Native American Farmers and Ranchers Another Indication of a New Civil Rights Era at USDA

The announcement last week that USDA and the Department of Justice have reached an agreement with Native American farmers and ranchers to settle alleged incidents of discrimination by USDA marks the start of a new civil rights era.  This isn’t just talk.  It is meaningful action on the part of the Obama Administration. Read more »

Making a Difference

Secretary Tom Vilsack (right) constructs playground equipment at Hyde Leadership Charter School in Northeast D.C.  In the foreground is Housing Secretary, Shaun Donovan, Education Secretary Arne Duncan (left) and National Service Director Patrick Corvington looks on.

Secretary Tom Vilsack (right) constructs playground equipment at Hyde Leadership Charter School in Northeast D.C. In the foreground is Housing Secretary, Shaun Donovan, Education Secretary Arne Duncan (left) and National Service Director Patrick Corvington looks on.

Saturday, October 23, 2010 — This morning dawned a beautiful, crisp, autumn day here in the District of Columbia.  As the sun climbed above the horizon, over 500 volunteers gathered to build a playground at the Hyde Leadership Charter School in northeast DC.  Among the volunteers were Secretary and Mrs. Vilsack along with Education Secretary Arne Duncan and his wife, Karen.  Mrs. Duncan works with a non-profit group called KaBoom which advocates development of play areas for children and openspace for communities.  Both Mrs. Vilsack and Mrs. Duncan are teachers and have gained an excellent rapport over the past year advocating healthy, nutritious meals in the National School Lunch Program and also promoting the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative.  Read more »

The Heart and Soul of USDA Rural Development’s Business – Cooperative Programs is the Business and Industry (B&I) Guaranteed Loan Program

Congressman Leonard Boswell; Judy Canales, USDA Rural Business Programs Administrator; and Bill Menner, USDA Rural Development State Director in Iowa (Next to Canales on Right), listen to Pat Weiler (left) as he talks about upcoming changes at Weiler's manufacturing facility.

Congressman Leonard Boswell; Judy Canales, USDA Rural Business Programs Administrator; and Bill Menner, USDA Rural Development State Director in Iowa (Next to Canales on Right), listen to Pat Weiler (left) as he talks about upcoming changes at Weiler's manufacturing facility.

During the past year, nearly $3 billion in guaranteed loans were issued through The USDA Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program to lenders across the country as they worked with local businesses to help create jobs in rural America.

Read more »

Wood-to-Energy Efforts Expanding, Restoring Economies and Ecosystems

In mid-October, USDA’s Under Secretaries for Natural Resources & Environment, Rural Development, and Farm & Foreign Agriculture Services launched a major new Wood-to-Energy Initiative that seeks to build a forest restoration economy by integrating wood-to-energy activities within the larger forest products sector.  Consisting of a broad-scale effort to coordinate USDA technical and program support to stimulate the wood-to-energy sector, the initiative takes its cue from the Administration’s emphasis on the role of renewable fuels and forest restoration in sustaining rural jobs and prosperity, which has been expressed in numerous contexts by senior Administration officials including Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Read more »