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 »
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 »
This wildflower field at Dirt Works Incubator Farm, on John’s Island, in Charleston, S.C., provides important habitat for pollinator species. Photo by Nikki Seibert, Lowcountry Local First.
Eighty-five percent of all flowering plants depend on pollinators, like bees and bats, to reproduce.
But these critical pollinators are in trouble as habitat loss, disease, parasites and environmental contaminants are causing a decline of many species, including some of the more than 4,000 species of native bees in North America.
That’s why USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in South Carolina and the Xerces Society, with the support of a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant, are promoting the benefits of pollinators through hands-on workshops targeted to employees of NRCS, soil and water conservation districts, cooperative extension agents and many others involved in agricultural production. Read more »
A Tyrannosaurus Rex tooth found by Barb Beasley during a 2012 Passport in Time excavation in the Late Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation on the Custer National Forest in South Dakota on June 22, 2012. Unlike mammals that only possess two sets of teeth during their lifetime, dinosaurs replaced worn teeth by shedding them continuously throughout their lives. A single Tyrannosaurus may have shed hundreds or even thousands of teeth during its lifetime. U.S. Forest Service photo by Rhonda Fore.
The big female sniffed at the dry Late Cretaceous air as she trotted – delicately, considering her 7-ton frame – along a game trail through a stand of towering conifers, whose needled lower branches trembled slightly at her passing. Read more »
At the U.S. Department of Agriculture we’re working hard to strengthen the economy across rural America – and in recent years, we have seen positive signs of growth.
At the same time, we know that areas of high poverty still exist, and many of these are in our small towns and rural communities. In fact, nine out of ten persistent poverty counties in our nation are in rural America.
That’s why USDA launched the StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity initiative.
Through StrikeForce, we provide intensive care for communities that suffer from high poverty. USDA identifies areas with over 20 percent poverty for the StrikeForce effort. We join together with communities in these areas that are working to build opportunity for their citizens. Our staff partner with local organizations and civic leaders, providing them with technical support and assistance to help them successfully apply for USDA programs. Read more »