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Posts tagged: Maryland

Breadfruit: Bad News for Mosquitoes

A female Aedes aegypti mosquito feeds on an artificial membrane loaded with a blood substitute as part of tests that have shown that natural compounds found in breadfruit flowers are highly effective at repelling biting bugs. (Photo by Peggy Greb, ARS)

A female Aedes aegypti mosquito feeds on an artificial membrane loaded with a blood substitute as part of tests that have shown that natural compounds found in breadfruit flowers are highly effective at repelling biting bugs. (Photo by Peggy Greb, ARS)

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

Breadfruit has been a hit in Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia for more than 3,000 years because of its many pluses:  This tropical staple food crop is plentiful and packed with nutrients.  It’s hailed by some as a possible solution to world hunger, but it could play a totally different—but equally important—role in saving lives.

Scientists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have found that breadfruit flowers contain three chemicals that work wonderfully for repelling flying insects, including mosquitoes.  In Hawaii and other regions, people have known for years that burning dried clusters of the flowers, known as “male inflorescences,” can keep bugs at bay. Read more »

Packing the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree for Ride ‘Home’ is no Easy Feat

In a staging area, workers carefully begin the process of wrapping the tree to protect it during the 5,000-mile journey from Colville National Forest to the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

In a staging area, workers carefully begin the process of wrapping the tree to protect it during the 5,000-mile journey from Colville National Forest to the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

The 88-foot Engelmann spruce tree that will grace the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol as a gift from the people must first get from Colville National Forest in Washington State to Washington, D.C.

That means careful packing with special attention paid to cocooning the 2013 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree so the thick branches stay intact and nothing hangs over the side of the trailer it is placed on.

“What does it take to wrap an 88-foot-tall Engelmann spruce?” said Franklin Pemberton of the Colville National Forest. “Also a lot of hard-working volunteers, 4,000 feet of parachute cord with a 550-pound breaking strength and a huge building.” Read more »

Agricultural Coexistence: Fostering Collaboration and Communication

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has published a notice in the Federal Register asking the public to comment on how agricultural coexistence in the United States can be strengthened.  Comments are due by January 3, 2014.

U.S. farmers in the 21st Century engage in many forms of agriculture, including conventional, organic, identity-preserved, and genetically engineered (GE) crop production.  USDA is unequivocal in its supports for all these forms of agriculture.  We need all of them to meet our country’s collective needs for food security, energy production, carbon offsets and the economic sustainability of rural communities.  Our goal is to promote the coexistence of all these approaches through cooperation and science-based stewardship practices. Read more »

Making Moves in Maryland

Last week, I met up with Washington Redskins linebacker Darryl Tapp to help kick off Fuel Up to Play 60’s new Make Your Move effort and see how kids at Kenilworth Elementary School in Bowie, Maryland are eating healthier and getting active at school and at home. Fuel up to Play 60 is a partnership between the National Football League (NFL) and the National Dairy Council.

Tapp and I challenged students to “Make Your Move” by having fun and playing hard while fueling their bodies with healthy foods. My favorite part? Hearing a resounding chorus of “YES!” when I asked students if they liked the healthier breakfasts and lunches served in their cafeteria. Read more »

U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, a Gift from the People, Headed Toward Washington, D.C.

The 88-foot Engelmann spruce selected as the 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree is hoisted onto a flatbed truck, where it will be secured for the 5,000-mile journey across the country. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

The 88-foot Engelmann spruce selected as the 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree is hoisted onto a flatbed truck, where it will be secured for the 5,000-mile journey across the country. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

More than 300 people gathered on in 25-degree weather to witness the harvesting of the 88-foot 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree from the Colville National Forest, the first step in its 5,000 mile journey from Washington State to the U. S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

More than a dozen spotters and equipment operators manipulated the tree into position as the Mack Truck pushed the trailer underneath. The enormity of the Engelmann spruce became apparent as the tree floated above the trailer while a few extra feet from the trunk had to be removed.

Every December, the Speaker of the House hosts a lighting ceremony on the U.S. Capitol grounds. With a simple flip of a switch roughly 10,000 lights bring the tree to life. But first it has to make the journey. Read more »

Ag Statistician Goes from NCAA to NASS

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.

2013 is the International Year of Statistics. As part of this global event, every month this year USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will profile careers of individuals who are making significant contributions to improve agricultural statistics in the United States.

Growing up in Texas, you’re never far removed from agriculture. Even though I grew up in Houston, my grandparents had a beef operation and I’ve always believed that agriculture is simply in my blood. I also knew that I had a passion for numbers, so when time came for me to pick a college major, Agricultural Economics seemed like a great combination of my two passions.

I earned my degree from Prairie View A&M University in Texas. During my junior year, I joined USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Texas Field Office as an intern, which ended up transforming into a full time position with the agency’s Arkansas office after my graduation. Read more »