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Posts tagged: NIFA

University of Kentucky Collaboration Empowers Louisville’s Homeless Youth

Homeless teenage girl on street with rucksack

University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment researchers are helping homeless youth in Louisville, KY using a NIFA Children, Youth, and Families at Risk (CYFAR) Sustainable Community Projects grant. Photo credit: iStock

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that every year more than 1.7 million teens experience homelessness in the United States.  According to the Coalition for the Homeless, Louisville, Kentucky, had 555 young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 stay in homeless shelters over the past year. When those young adults were surveyed about who they turned to for help in reaching their goals or fulfilling their basic needs, an alarming number replied:

“No one.”

Researchers from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment (UKag) are helping this underserved population with the help of a five-year, $660,000 Children, Youth, and Families at Risk (CYFAR) Sustainable Community Projects grant from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Read more »

Reaching and Educating Minority Teen Mothers Online with eBaby4U

The eBaby4U homepage on an iPad

Thanks to funding from NIFA’s Rural Health and Safety Education program, teen mothers are now able to find important, relevant information online to help them raise healthy babies. Photo credit: Stephanie Engle

Mothers want what is best for their children, no matter the age of the mother and child. But what happens when teenage or socially disadvantaged mothers do not have the life experience or access to education to make the most informed decision?

eBaby4U, a digital program run through Mississippi State University (MSU), is designed specifically to inform and support African-American teen mothers through an approach that is second-nature to youth: finding information online. Read more »

Improving the Safety of Leafy Greens

Sadhana Ravishankar with a bag of leafy greens

Sadhana Ravishankar, associate professor at the University of Arizona’s School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences, led a team of researchers at the University of Arizona that discovered natural methods to sanitize leafy vegetables.

Food safety is a top priority for consumers, especially when it comes to the leafy greens in salads. Researchers at the University of Arizona have discovered natural methods to sanitize these vegetables using ingredients commonly found in the kitchen, such as oregano, cinnamon, and vinegar.

Plant extracts, essential oils, and organic sanitizers have all proved effective in killing bacteria on leafy greens and extending their shelf life. When emulsified in the water used to wash these leaves, the approach compares to (and sometimes even works better than) bleach or hydrogen peroxide. Read more »

Red, White and Blue: Sustainable, Domestic Dye for Denim

Indigo plants

“Many farmers in the Southeast are planting indigo as a cash crop alternative to tobacco.” (Image courtesy of Sarah Bellos)

Blue jeans are a classic symbol of American fashion, but did you ever wonder how your blue jeans got their color?

Synthetic indigo dyes are used to give jeans their hue, but that was not always the case. Only two countries, China and Germany, currently manufacture the dyes that are used to color jeans, with China producing 90 percent.

Synthetic indigo is derived from coal tar and toxic chemicals that are fused together under conditions so extreme that making it in the United States is cost prohibitive, due to strict environmental and safety regulations. Read more »

Bioenergy, Bioproducts Education Program Builds Student Confidence, Equips Educators

Morina Ricablanca

Morina Ricablanca teaches bioenergy and other subjects to special needs students at East Hoke Middle School in North Carolina. (Image courtesy of Morina Ricablanca)

Being an educator is in Morina Ricablanca’s blood. Growing up in a family of teachers in the Philippines, she knew she would someday pursue a career in education. Ricablanca participated in an outreach program assisting troubled youth while attending Manuel L. Quezon University Law School in Manila. She realized then it was time to join the family business of teaching.

Her decision has led her to a successful career working with special needs students at East Hoke Middle School in rural North Carolina. Ricablanca was named the “2014 Teacher of the Year” for her school district, partly due to her work helping three of her students win the school’s science fair. Read more »

UTEP Researchers Take a Different Path to Tackle International Drought Issues

UTEP text and the state of Texas layered onto an image of a river

Scientists from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) are helping policy makers and residents manage their ever-shrinking water resources using new and different approaches. (Image by Stephanie Engle)

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.

Scientists from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) are working with stakeholders to determine the course their research will take.  The result, they say, is better science that is more useful to end users – and the scientists learn a lot, too.

Rather than have their own science-based questions direct their research, Dr. Josiah Heyman and his research partner Dr. William Hargrove will let stakeholders – the actual users of their science – point the way.  According to Heyman, this “participatory approach” is science for the public’s sake, not for the scientists’ sake.  The two lead a multi-institutional, multi-national project that is tackling drought-driven water supply issues in the Southwest. Read more »