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Posts tagged: Maryland

Connecting Schoolchildren to Healthy Food Choices

Concannon chats with Takoma Park Middle School’s eighth grade Family and Consumer Science class, where students examine food labeling and packaging.

Concannon chats with Takoma Park Middle School’s eighth grade Family and Consumer Science class, where students examine food labeling and packaging.

Last month, schools all across the nation celebrated National School Lunch Week, honoring the importance of healthy meals to education.  I was able to join in one of these celebrations right here in the national Capital area, and the great things I saw at Takoma Park (Md.) Middle School are still fresh in my mind.

I was already aware of the commitment that the Division of Nutrition and Food Services of Montgomery County Public Schools has made to serving healthy meals, as well some of the important strides they have taken across this large district.  But on this trip, I wanted to see first-hand how Takoma Park Principal Alicia Teeny and her teaching staff connect children in the classroom to healthy food choices. Read more »

U.S. Forest Service Harvests 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree in Minnesota

About 500 people attended the tree-harvesting ceremony to watch the 88-foot, 13,000-pound Minnesota spruce chosen as the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. The Chippewa National Forest is donating the tree, often referred to as the People’s Tree. The tree-lighting ceremony is scheduled for Dec. 2. (U.S. Forest Service)

About 500 people attended the tree-harvesting ceremony to watch the 88-foot, 13,000-pound Minnesota spruce chosen as the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. The Chippewa National Forest is donating the tree, often referred to as the People’s Tree. The tree-lighting ceremony is scheduled for Dec. 2. (U.S. Forest Service)

On a cold afternoon in late October, about 500 people, including local area third graders who had made ornaments for it, gathered to witness the cutting of the 88-foot, 13,000-pound 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree on the Chippewa National Forest in north central Minnesota.

To help stay warm and nourished, attendees were offered hot chocolate or coffee, a wild rice dish, fruit, sandwich wraps and cookies, all courtesy of the Leech Land Band of Ojibwe. The official festivities began with Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Spiritual Advisor Larry Aitken blessing the Tree, distinguished guests sharing their congratulations, and poignant drumming performances by two groups of tribal youth; one group was accompanied by young tribal dancers in full regalia. Read more »

USDA Partners with Maryland School for the Deaf in Work-to-Learn Program

APHIS Work-to-Learn Student Carroll Barnes and USDA Federal Disability Employment Program Manager Alison Levy converse about his work with the APHIS Professional Development Center in Frederick.

APHIS Work-to-Learn Student Carroll Barnes and USDA Federal Disability Employment Program Manager Alison Levy converse about his work with the APHIS Professional Development Center in Frederick.

Traditional classrooms aren’t the only place where high school students learn new things.  Every workday from 12:40 to 2:40 p.m., Maryland School for the Deaf (MSD) senior Carroll Barnes is learning outside the classroom through his school’s Work-to-Learn program.  He hitches a ride from the program’s van and arrives at the Professional Development Center (PDC) of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine, in Frederick, Maryland for two hours’ of on-the-job training.  He’s tasked with a broad range of general office duties, such as filing, shredding, and stocking printers.  He also assists with the PDC’s training support activities, including collating and distributing classroom materials and labeling laboratory equipment and supplies.

As the PDC Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Committee (EEOAC) Chair, I oversee his daily activities and coordinate the work needed by our staff with his availability.  In addition to gaining administrative and clerical work experience, Carroll is also exposed to the broader APHIS mission of safeguarding American agricultural and natural resources from invasive pests.  The PDC provides training, leadership and consultation to APHIS employees and others who work to protect the Nation’s agriculture and natural resources from plant pests and diseases.  Carroll believes that “all happiness depends on courage and work,” and adds he’s “learning about my new job, learning to schedule my time, to balance my budget…” which he suggests are good life lessons that everyone should learn. Read more »

Federal Employees Help to Knock Out Hunger

AMS Deputy Associate Administrator Karen Comfort, Feds Feeds Families’ 2014 National Program Manager, tells the crowd that the campaign delivered 14.8 million pounds of donated food that went to food banks and pantries across the country.

AMS Deputy Associate Administrator Karen Comfort, Feds Feeds Families’ 2014 National Program Manager, tells the crowd that the campaign delivered 14.8 million pounds of donated food that went to food banks and pantries across the country.

When I became National Program Manager for the 2014 Feds Feeds Families campaign—the sixth annual, nationwide food drive of Federal employees—I challenged Federal employees nationwide to help knock out hunger by supporting this year’s initiative.  I had every confidence that our Nation’s civil servants would step up in a huge way.  Feds have a tradition of generosity and answering the call whenever, wherever, and however they are needed.  Even so, this year’s results far exceeded my expectations:  14.8 million pounds of donated food went to food banks and pantries across the country.  That’s 7,400 tons of food this year.

Since 2009, the campaign has donated almost 39 million pounds of food to families and individuals in need.  All Federal agencies across the country participated.  Federal employees donated both perishable and non-perishable food items throughout the summer.  This year Feds Feed Families also encouraged employees to take advantage of gleaning (clearing fields of unused produce). Read more »

Celebrating America’s Newest National Monument: The San Gabriel Mountains

Today, President Obama used his authority under the Antiquities Act to establish 346,177 acres of USDA National Forest land in the San Gabriel Mountains in southern California as a national monument, permanently protecting the popular outdoor recreation destination to increase access and outdoor opportunities for the area’s residents.  For more information on USDA and Forest Service involvement go to the website or read the White House Blog posted here.

Cross-posted from the White House Blog:

Today, President Obama will travel to Los Angeles County, California to designate the San Gabriel Mountains as America’s newest national monument, and a timeless piece of our national heritage. In many ways, this nation’s story is etched into its land, and as the President is recognizing today, each of our monuments provides us with an important cultural bridge between our past and our future.

In his time in office, President Obama has preserved more than 3 million acres of public land, and he’s not done yet. Natural treasures like the San Gabriel Mountains are not only remarkably beautiful, as they frame the Los Angeles Skyline, but with this new designation, they will bring even more tangible benefits to the 15 million people who live in their shadow. Tourism in the area will be strengthened, as will local businesses as hikers, bikers, outdoor adventurists, and nature lovers make their way to enjoy all 346,177 acres receiving the President’s new designation. Read more »

Conservation Tools Help ‘Pick-Your-Own’ Farm Thrive

Wade Butler talks about how drip irrigation system benefits black raspberries on his farm.

Wade Butler talks about how drip irrigation system benefits black raspberries on his farm.

A farmer’s field is dotted with people busily picking blueberries off bushes and loading them into large red buckets. But they’re not at work. They’re picking for their own pantries.

Butler’s Orchard, located near Washington, D.C. in Germantown, Maryland, is a 300-acre family-owned farm that grows more than 180 crops including 25 different kinds of vegetables, fruits and flowers. For the past 60 years, this farm has opened its rows and orchards for people to pick their own. Read more »