This week, USDA and other federal departments and agencies are recognizing the huge success of the 4th annual Feds Feed Families Food Drive. USDA employees, farmers, and friends raised a total of 2.77 million pounds of food this summer! The U.S. Forest Service was a big part of this effort and the stories below captures a snapshot of how several different Forest Service offices helped fill the shelves of food banks and food pantries in their communities.
In Duluth, Minnesota, the Superior National Forest Supervisor’s Office set a goal of 2,500 pounds for the food drive. As an incentive to encourage their team, Forest Supervisor Brenda Halter and Deputy Supervisor Tim Dabney promised they would wear Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl costumes and greet people in Duluth’s Canal Park if they reached their goal. The staff pulled together and donated 4,500 pounds of food to Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank. With the goal met and far exceeded, the Forest Supervisor and Deputy Supervisor put on the Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl costumes! Read more »
USDA Support helps Mrs. Gerry’s, an Albert Lea, Minn. Business grow and create jobs. ( From left its Colleen Landkamer, USDA Rural Development Minn. State Director; Chad Vogt, Mrs. Gerry’s, Inc.; and Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager.
What started as a small operation almost 40 years ago has grown into major contributor to the economy in Albert Lea, Minn.
Mrs. Gerry’s Kitchen, Inc., started on Dec. 4, 1973, in a building that occupied 1,100 square feet. Today, Mrs. Gerry’s is adding a 36,500 square-foot addition that will bring its building to over 100,000 square feet and help meet growing customer demand for its real (no flaky stuff here) mashed potatoes and other products. Read more »
Last week it was my privilege to attend the annual United Tribes Tribal Leaders Summit and associated conferences in Bismarck, North Dakota. This annual gathering is an opportunity for tribal leaders from around the region to exchange information about current issues in Indian Country.
While there, I discussed the importance of the recently-appointed Council for Native American Farming and Ranching. The Council was selected by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to suggest changes to USDA regulations and to provide internal guidance or propose measures that would promote the participation of American Indian farmers and ranchers in USDA programs and support government-to-government relations between USDA and tribal governments. The Council is a discretionary advisory committee established in furtherance of Keepseagle v. Vilsack, which was a lawsuit alleging past discrimination by USDA against Native American farmers and ranchers in the way it operated its farm loan program.
I also met with Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Charles Murphy and shared that USDA will fund a water quality project to rehabilitate and expand a failing sewage treatment system serving members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Read more »
American Indian youth ricing. The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe rely on water to preserve their culture, their agriculture and their overall quality of life
When Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe water resource professionals discovered that 60 percent of the Minnesota reservation’s septic systems were sub-standard or failing, they feared for the reservation’s health, indigenous rice fields, and fish populations.
Shirley Nordrum, a Leech Lake Extension educator with the University of Minnesota, responded with an extensive education program. She explains to homeowners how having the sanitation department pump their septic systems could protect their health and contribute to the safety of the environment and their community. She uses funds from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Federal Recognized Tribes Extension Program (FRTEP) to conduct this outreach effort. Her program has become a model for other communities. Read more »
Kyle Oldre, Rock County Administrator speaks at the dedication as State Director Colleen Landkamer and other dignitaries look on.
As construction crews were busy putting the finishing touches on New Vision Co-op’s new grain elevator and feed mill in Magnolia, Minn., last month, USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer and other area leaders visited the site to highlight the economic impact of the project.
“This investment by USDA means jobs and economic development opportunities,” Landkamer said. Read more »
Throughout Minnesota, women are increasingly responsible for the stewardship of private forestlands, as the number of women owning and managing land across the country increases. To address this trend, the Minnesota Women’s Woodland Network (WWN) was formed in 2010. WWN provides resources to women to help them effectively care for and enhance their private forestland.
Minnesota Women’s Woodland Network members visited Camp Vermillion on May 16 for a “Walk in the Woods.”
Read more »