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Posts tagged: Alabama

Secretary’s Column: Fighting Rural Poverty in Appalachia and the Delta Region

Cross posted from the Huffington Post:

Rural America faces a unique set of challenges when it comes to combating poverty in our towns and communities. Too often, rural people and places are hard to reach or otherwise underserved—but not forgotten.

I believe that USDA and its partners have the tools and the wherewithal to expand opportunity and better serve those living in poverty, but it is imperative that these resources reach the areas where they are needed most.

That is why USDA has undertaken a broad commitment to rally available tools and technical assistance through our StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity initiative. Read more »

‘Ag in Action’ Lab on Wheels Brings the Farm to Alabama Schools

Many partners, including NRCS, helped create the Ag in Action, a traveling environmental education tool in Alabama. NRCS photo.

Many partners, including NRCS, helped create the Ag in Action, a traveling environmental education tool in Alabama. NRCS photo.

A new 26-foot learning lab on wheels enables Alabama’s elementary and middle school students to experience farming through hands-on activities and audio visual technology. The “Ag in Action” lab is the first of its kind in Alabama and one of only four in the nation.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency partnered with seven soil and water conservation districts and other groups to create this education tool.

“Ag in Action is an amazing way to bring agriculture to life and teach students about agriculture,” said the lab’s coordinator, Sarah Butterworth. “Using the lab, students will learn where their food and fiber grows and how it is produced.” Read more »

PLANTS Database Provides Answers for Vegetative Questions

Daucus:  Top-view of the flower structure of Daucus carota, Queen Anne’s lace or wild carrot, Bedford County, Virginia.  Doug Goldman, USDA-NRCS-NPDT

Daucus: Top-view of the flower structure of Daucus carota, Queen Anne’s lace or wild carrot, Bedford County, Virginia. Doug Goldman, USDA-NRCS-NPDT

Recently the PLANTS website crossed a milestone with the uploading of its 50,000th image. The database, managed by the National Plant Data Team at the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s East National Technology Support Center, hosts images of plants that grow in the U.S. and its territories.

The PLANTS site is one of USDA’s most frequently visited websites.

Besides images, PLANTS provides basic information on plants, including scientific names and distribution. It is used worldwide by scientists, educators, conservationists, students, farmers, horticulturists and others. All of this information assists people in identifying plants with the correct scientific names. Read more »

Farmers in Alabama Reach More Customers with Electronic Benefit Transfer

Bartenfelder Farms at Baltimore’s Farmers Market and Bazaar in Baltimore, MD. Vendors now accept Baltimore Farmers Market and Bazaar tokens, thanks to the new wireless connected electronic card reader that accepts the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Nutrition Service’s (FNS) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards, Baltimore Bucks, and debit cards. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

Bartenfelder Farms at Baltimore’s Farmers Market and Bazaar in Baltimore, MD. Vendors now accept Baltimore Farmers Market and Bazaar tokens, thanks to the new wireless connected electronic card reader that accepts the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Nutrition Service’s (FNS) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards, Baltimore Bucks, and debit cards. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

What Agriculture Under Secretary Concannon calls a win-win situation, is taking root in rural Alabama with help from USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service and state officials.  Local farmers’ markets are getting authorized to accept Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards which will allow them to expand their customer base and offer Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants healthy and local produce.

With federal grant money provided to states through September 30, 2013, eligible farmers’ markets and now direct marketing farmers are receiving free wireless point-of-sale (POS) devices. As part of the Food and Nutrition Service’s (FNS) StrikeForce efforts to reach out to communities in persistent poverty stricken areas, its Southeast Regional Office recently offered three farmers’ market sign-up days in Madison, Selma, and Robertsdale, Alabama. Read more »

Historically Black Colleges and Universities Help Feed Kids During the Summer

Ensuring disadvantaged children have enough to eat during the summer is a top priority for USDA. Historically Black Colleges and Universities can play a critical role in helping us achieve this goal.

Ensuring disadvantaged children have enough to eat during the summer is a top priority for USDA. Historically Black Colleges and Universities can play a critical role in helping us achieve this goal.

Although about 21 million children nationwide receive free and reduced-priced meals through our National School Lunch Program, only about 3.5 million meals are served through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) on a typical day. Closing this gap and ensuring that disadvantaged children do not go hungry during the summer months is a goal that USDA can only achieve through work with our partners.

One of the ways we’re strengthening partnerships is through our StrikeForce Initiative which helps us target state partners to work with across the country including universities and colleges. A great example of this initiative at work is the Alabama Department of Education teaming up with Tuskegee University, a Historically Black University in Alabama, which now sponsors four community-based summer feeding sites in Macon County where disadvantaged kids can get a free and nutritious summer meal. Read more »

A Father’s Day Tribute: The Time My Dad Took My Class on a Hike in the Woods

Noah Scott and his father Andy, a scientist with the U.S. Forest Service.

Noah Scott and his father Andy, a scientist with the U.S. Forest Service.

Recently, U.S. Forest Service scientist Andy Scott took his son’s first-grade class on a nature hike to talk about forestry, soil, and anything else the kids wanted to know. They walked along the newly created Bradford Creek Greenway behind Heritage Elementary School in Madison, Ala. Noah captured the day beautifully. We offer his words as our tribute to Father’s Day.

My Dad came to my classroom before we went outside. He told us to walk only on the path because there was poison ivy off the path and a lot of people thought everything with three leaves was poison ivy.

When we went outside we got to see some leaves from trees and my Dad told us what kind they were. One was pine, one was sweet gum, and one was sassafras. It smelled good when you crumbled it up. Then we found out how you tell how old a tree is. Read more »