A Red-cockaded woodpecker flies from its natural nest cavity on the Francis Marion National Forest in September, 2009. (Photo credit: Martjan Lammertink)
Many stories emerging from the Francis Marion National Forest share a common genesis in Hurricane Hugo, the massive storm estimated to have knocked down nearly a billion board feet of timber on the coastal South Carolina forest in 1989.
But in a comeback success story, there was no knock-out for the red-cockaded woodpecker.
Before Hugo, the Francis Marion had the densest, second-largest, and only known, naturally increasing population of red-cockaded woodpeckers in the country. Prior to 1989, an estimated 475 breeding pairs lived on the forest. Read more »
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 »
Angeliz Vangas and Hanniah Rodriguez made a big impact serving as interns on the National Forests in North Carolina and are now heading back to school and continuing on their road to success.
As part of the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP), this summer Vangas and Rodriguez interned in the U.S. Forest Service’s engineering department in Asheville, N.C. SCEP provides work experience that is directly related to the student’s academic program or career aspirations and gives students exposure to public service while enhancing their educational goals.
The civil engineering majors are rising seniors at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez and have a passion for engineering. Both are members of the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers, where they serve as treasurer and secretary, respectively. Read more »
Ensuring disadvantaged children have enough to eat during the summer is a top priority for USDA. Historically Black Colleges and Universities can play a critical role in helping us achieve this goal.
Although about 21 million children nationwide receive free and reduced-priced meals through our National School Lunch Program, only about 3.5 million meals are served through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) on a typical day. Closing this gap and ensuring that disadvantaged children do not go hungry during the summer months is a goal that USDA can only achieve through work with our partners.
One of the ways we’re strengthening partnerships is through our StrikeForce Initiative which helps us target state partners to work with across the country including universities and colleges. A great example of this initiative at work is the Alabama Department of Education teaming up with Tuskegee University, a Historically Black University in Alabama, which now sponsors four community-based summer feeding sites in Macon County where disadvantaged kids can get a free and nutritious summer meal. Read more »
Military veteran Tyler Price, left, of the Student Conservation Association, and Josh Carr of Historicorps scrape lead paint off of historic window sashes of a Thornburg Farm historic building during a restoration project on the Uwharrie National Forest. (Photo courtesy Michael Salisbury)
Under a new program to help veterans re-enter civilian life and find career-oriented employment, eight military veterans visited the Uwharrie National Forest near Asheboro, N.C. as part of their summer program to gain experience in developing historic preservation skills, they restored a historic site of farm buildings on the forest.
“I recognized the importance of preserving these buildings for generations to come and am grateful to be just a small part of the process,” said Tyler Price, a veteran and history and anthropology student at California University at Fresno. Read more »
West Virginia State Director Bobby Lewis and others visited Tucker County High School near Hambleton West Virginia as part of ARC’s tour through Appalachia. The group met with local educators and students to discuss the farm to school program; school, community and industry relationships; local farmers markets and greenhouse and high tunnel operation. While there, the group toured a high tunnel currently under construction. Photo Credit: Savanna Lyons of the WV Food & Farm Coalition
West Virginia and Appalachian Ohio have a lot in common beyond their shared state border. With a strong agricultural heritage, these vast rural areas are known for their forest and timber industries, and they are integrating food systems into local economic development.
Earlier this month, I joined Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Co-Chair Earl Gohl and Ohio’s State Rural Development Director Tony Logan to take a look at local food in the Buckeye state. My colleague, Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Joani Walsh, recently made a similar trip to West Virginia. Organized by ARC, the visits were an opportunity to discuss how local food is diversifying the economy, developing a more competitive workforce and generating opportunities within regions like Appalachia. “Through our work on the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative, we know that there are lots of ways that local foods are providing economic opportunities in rural communities,” said Walsh. “These visits with ARC gave us a clearer picture of how that is happening in Appalachia.” Read more »