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Posts tagged: Montana

Nationwide Census on Farm to School Activities Shows Promising Results

USDA Census shows healthy habits are taking root across the country.

USDA Census shows healthy habits are taking root across the country.

When students have experiences such as tending a school garden or visiting a farm they’ll be more likely to make healthy choices in the cafeteria. And when schools invest their food dollars in their local communities, all of agriculture benefits, including local farmers, ranchers, fishermen, food processors and manufacturers.

Good news: these healthy habits are taking root all across the country.

USDA released today results from a nationwide Census of farm to school activities. We found that 43 percent of all public school districts have an existing farm to school program in place. Another 13 percent of school districts surveyed are committed to launching a farm to school program in the near future. With purchasing local food as a primary farm to school activity, in school year 2011-2012, schools purchased and served over $350 million in local food. Read more »

Finding the Future of Agriculture

During the North American Indian Days Celebration in Montana, Under Secretary Ed Avalos (foreground), witnessed the pride and commitment of youth as they celebrated their cultural and agricultural roots.

During the North American Indian Days Celebration in Montana, Under Secretary Ed Avalos (foreground), witnessed the pride and commitment of youth as they celebrated their cultural and agricultural roots.

Agricultural producers in rural America represent less than 1% of the U.S. population, yet they produce almost 75% of the food we eat in this country and much of the food eaten throughout the world. Among that 1%, the average age of the American farmer is 57 years old—making it imperative for us to engage and encourage young people to pursue agricultural careers.

Earlier this summer, while visiting Browning, Montana, I had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Billie Jo Kipp, President of the Blackfeet Community College (BCC) and Mr. Terry Tatsey, Director of Agricultural Programs at the college.  Their efforts and commitment to educate local students and keep young people in agriculture is inspiring. Read more »

Smokejumpers – Out of the Sky and Into the Fire

A smokejumper exits a plane. (US Forest Service photo)

A smokejumper exits a plane. (US Forest Service photo)

This blog is part of a series from the U.S. Forest Service on its wildland firefighting program to increase awareness about when and how the agency suppresses fires, to provide insights into the lives of those fighting fires, and to explain some of the cutting-edge research underway on fire behavior. Check back to the USDA Blog during the 2013 wildfire season for new information. Additional resources are available at www.fs.fed.us/wildlandfire/.

Imagine jumping from a plane into a fire, with enough provisions to last for several days.  That’s what highly trained Forest Service smokejumpers do to provide quick initial attack on wildland fires.

The attack is a well-choreographed scenario.  Aircraft can hold anywhere from eight to 16 jumpers, a ‘spotter’ who stays with the plane, the pilot and provisions to make the jumpers self-sufficient for 72 hours. The spotter is responsible for the safe release of the jumpers.  Once the jumpers have landed, the aircraft will circle around and drop their cargo by parachute from just above treetop height.  The spotter also is responsible for communicating essential information about the wind, fire activity and the terrain to the jumpers, the pilot and to dispatch centers. Read more »

Back to Healthy School Meals: USDA Congratulates Six States for Nearly 100% of Schools Meeting New Meal Standards

School cafeterias across the country are at the heart of offering great nutrition for our kids.

School cafeterias across the country are at the heart of offering great nutrition for our kids.

As we continue to combat childhood obesity in America, I am proud to say that this Back to School season our school cafeterias are at the heart of offering great nutrition for our kids. Students and schools are embracing the healthier lunches offered through the National School Lunch Program that, together with the healthier breakfasts offered through the School Breakfast Program beginning this school year and the recently announced “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards that kick in next year, continue our children on the path towards future health and happiness.

So how are school cafeterias faring with all the meal updates across the nation? Like I said, they are putting their hearts into it. Read more »

Back to School: New Opportunities for the Virtual Classroom

The front entrance of Anderson Public School in rural Gallatin County, Montana. USDA photo.

The front entrance of Anderson Public School in rural Gallatin County, Montana. USDA photo.

Back to school means a fun and exciting way to learn for students of Anderson Public School in rural Gallatin County, Montana. Using a Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant from USDA Rural Development, Anderson Public School and nine other rural schools in Montana installed the necessary equipment to connect their students to share and expand learning opportunities.

Through the web-based portable videoconferencing equipment, the students in this community southwest of Bozeman, Montana have already been able to move beyond the walls of their classroom. The 4th grade class made a virtual visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and as the 8th grade students rode the ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, their classmates in the 7th grade were able to join from back in Montana thanks to the equipment. Enterprising students are already coming up with new curriculum to share with their peers, including a student-led class on using a green screen to make your own videos. Read more »

USDA Serving Montana Ranchers, Farmers

Ben Hofer, Rockport Colony Secretary, with a Kangal. NWRC researchers are studying the potential of these livestock guard animals for use where large predators include wolves and grizzly bear. The Kangal breed is gentle and trustworthy with their people or animals, but if the need arises they can become very protective. (USDA Photo by Under Secretary Edward Avalos)

Ben Hofer, Rockport Colony Secretary, with a Kangal. NWRC researchers are studying the potential of these livestock guard animals for use where large predators include wolves and grizzly bear. The Kangal breed is gentle and trustworthy with their people or animals, but if the need arises they can become very protective. (USDA Photo by Under Secretary Edward Avalos)

USDA plays an important and vital role in supporting rural communities throughout the country.  On my recent trip to Montana, I saw firsthand how the work, services and programs provided by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) directly impact stakeholder day-to-day operations.

After a listening session in Cut Bank, I was invited to the Rockport Colony, by Ben Hofer, the Secretary for the Hutterite community near Pendroy, Montana.  This impressive communal farming/ranching operation includes sheep, cattle, hog and poultry production, a dairy, and meat-processing facility, as well as fruit, vegetable, and grain production.  I quickly learned USDA is an important partner, providing support for water lines, fencing, and wildlife damage management. Read more »