Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker staffing the USDA booth at the Eugene/Springfield Pride Festival along with representatives from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Forest Service on August 13.
I recently had the privilege of representing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development at the Eugene/Springfield Pride Festival in southwestern Oregon. We stood side-by-side with our counterparts at the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Forest Service. When this festival began 25 years ago, the idea of a government agency participating was unthinkable. At that time, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals had no assurance of equal treatment when requesting government services or financial assistance. In fact, it was not so long ago that federal employees suspected of being gay were fired from their jobs. This sad chapter in our history saw careers destroyed and lives irreparably damaged.
I am deeply proud of the tremendous progress we have made nationally and at home here in Oregon to correct those past mistakes. USDA has been among the first federal departments to participate in Pride festivals across Oregon, and we have been leading the way nationally in the arena of LGBT civil rights. We were one of the first federal departments to enact protections specifically on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. USDA has instituted training for our employees, and we have been making a concerted effort to reach out to our LGBT customers, partners, and potential future employees. As I handed out information on the financial programs in Rural Development and the career opportunities available with USDA in a park festooned with rainbows, I experienced first-hand the incredible strides we have made in recent years toward a new era of civil rights. Read more »
Natalie and Donald Love use sustainable forestry practices to improve early successional habitat on their land in central Pennsylvania.
Natalie Love wakes up each morning to the sounds of songbirds. “What a good way to start your day,” said Love, who lives in the Appalachian Mountains in central Pennsylvania.
Natalie and her husband Donald are working to improve the healthy, structurally diverse forests that provide many benefits for wildlife. By doing so, they’ve also improved their access to their forests, fought off undesired invasive plants and improved the aesthetics of their forest land.
“Sustainable forestry is benefitting our personal lives as well as wildlife,” she said. “We want to build an inviting place for the golden-winged warbler.” Read more »
(L to R) Mark Denk, CVTC; Dan Prestebak, Dunn County Land & Water; Katie Wantoch, UW-Extension; John Sippl, USDA-NRCS; and Leah Nichol, Dunn County Land & Water proudly promote soil health and water quality through education and demonstration at the Red Cedar Demo Farm.
In Menomonie, Wisconsin, there is a 155-acre, three-parcel farm, whose purpose is to educate and demonstrate natural resources conservation. As part of their curriculum, Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) Agricultural Program students perform farm work there in an outdoor classroom environment.
“The Red Cedar Demonstration Farm gives students a hands-on opportunity to plant, scout fields, monitor growth, harvest, write nutrient plans, take soil samples. Really, it’s a full farm laboratory for students,” said John Sippl, Dunn County Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) District Conservationist. Read more »
At an urban agriculture conference, Barker learned that USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service helps growers with irrigation efficiency, so she reached out to NRCS District Conservationist Dan Lenthall for help.
When Amanda Barker arrived in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 2009 to start graduate school at Clark University she knew that she wanted to grow food and build community. “My hope was to figure out a way to connect people with food, get people talking to each other,” said Barker.
Seven years later, she is one of the nation’s urban agriculture pioneers who raises crops on tiny patches of land wedged between city buildings, used car lots, highways and railroad tracks, and even on rooftops. Read more »
Steve Siverling narrates his journey in soil health.
NRCS thanks Steve for sharing his firsthand successes with cover crops. Our goal is to share ideas on how to implement soil health principles and cover crops on your farm. Steve Siverling has seen many benefits on his farm through the use of cover crops including increased soil structure and organic matter, less soil compaction and erosion, improved water holding capacity in the soil, improved quality of crop test weights and protein, less purchased fertilizer inputs, potential grazing during fall and spring, increased wildlife habitat, weed suppression, and breaks in pest cycles. “Steve is an active member of our NRCS farmer network with cover crops in Chippewa County and has done a great job networking with other farmers and helping NRCS advance the soil health movement one farm at a time,” said Tammy Lindsay, Chippewa County District Conservationist.
My name is Steve Siverling, and I plant corn, soybeans and a few small grains on 350 acres in northern Wisconsin. But what I am growing is soil health; I am a biological farmer.
I began my soil health journey and evolution to a biological farmer 20 years ago when I purchased 80 acres near my farm. The soil pH was low, around 5.5, and there was less than one percent organic matter. I couldn’t make immediate improvements to the land that would allow me to plant a crop that could tolerate those conditions, but I had to try something. Read more »
Misha Rosado’s superior skills in math, knowledge of surveying with the use of a transit and laser level, and her preference for working with adults has made her the quintessential engineering assistant.
At 5’1”, Misha Rosado is a tiny, 16-year-old powerhouse whose least favorite thing is to sit around with nothing to do. So, in addition to school and a part-time job, she donates 60-80 hours each year as an Earth Team Volunteer for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
You may wonder how this bright and very funny teen—whose interests include gymnastics and playing the flute—got involved in the agency. To her, the NRCS staff in Connecticut are like family. They practically are, seeing as how her dad has worked there for 32 years. Read more »