As part of Public Service Recognition Week, outstanding USDA colleagues and teams from around the country were honored at the Department’s 31st Annual Unsung Hero Award Ceremony in Washington, DC. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.
Every day, USDA employees are hard at work providing safe, nutritious food for our families and children; conserving our land and natural resources; supporting our nation’s farmers and ranchers; expanding market opportunities for American agriculture at home and abroad; and investing in our rural economies. Recently, Secretary Vilsack penned a moving essay as to why he dedicates his life to public service at the USDA.
Nearly 100,000 USDA employees serve our country with pride and dedication. As part of Public Service Recognition Week, I joined the Organization of Professional Employees at the Department of Agriculture to honor 12 outstanding colleagues and teams from around the country in our 31st Annual Unsung Hero Award Ceremony. I invite you to congratulate these extraordinary public servants for their dedication to their jobs and their communities. Read more »
Moving cattle on the Northern Plains. Photo Credit: Matt Mortenson
The Northern Plains Regional Climate Hub—encompassing Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Colorado— has a high diversity of land use types including the largest remaining tracts of native rangeland in North America. Substantial areas of both dryland and irrigated cropland and pasture, mosaics of cropland and grassland, and forested lands can be found across the region. With the publication of the Northern Plains Regional Vulnerability Assessment, the Northern Plains Hub is providing stakeholders with an introduction to the region, regional sensitivities and adaptation strategies for working lands, a greenhouse gas emissions profile with mitigation opportunities, and an overview of how partner USDA agencies are being affected by a changing climate. This vulnerability assessment is an important first step in establishing a baseline “snapshot” of current climate vulnerabilities, and provides region-specific adaptation and mitigation strategies to increase the resilience of working lands in the region. Read more »
In 2014, President Obama identified the first five communities to be part of the Promise Zone initiative — a new placed-based effort to leverage investments, increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities and improve the quality of life in some of our country’s most challenged communities. As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to Rural America and our tribal areas, eastern Kentucky Highlands and the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma were part of the first named Promise Zone communities. Yesterday, the Administration announced eight additional new Promise Zone communities including one rural area in the Low Country of South Carolina, and one tribal community, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
Through Promise Zone effort, the Obama Administration is working across all channels and with partners to address some of the unique challenges that rural Americans face. Cecilia Muñoz, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council and Luke Tate, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Mobility co-authored a blog on how Promise Zone partnerships help to increase economic mobility in the communities they serve.
Cross-posted on the White House blog: Read more »
Maine 4-H learn some knife skills as part of the University of Maine’s “iCook” program. Four other states are joining Maine in this childhood obesity prevention program. (Courtesy photo from Maine 4-H)
Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents over the past 30 years, leading to increased risks for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and breathing problems.
Researchers from the University of Maine have developed the 4-H iCook project to tackle this issue in the home. The program encourages families to cook, eat, and exercise together while improving culinary skills and increasing physical activity. Read more »
Patrick Binder is a 17-year-old Alliance for a Healthier Generation Youth Ambassador from Yankton, South Dakota.
The following guest blog is from a high school student from Yankton, South Dakota that was invited to discuss the implementation of USDA’s Smart Snacks in Schools rule at a meeting hosted by the Pew Charitable trusts last fall. The blog is part of our Cafeteria Stories series, highlighting healthy meals in schools and the impact of hard working school nutrition professionals who are dedicated to making the healthy choice the easy choice at schools across the country. We thank these students, parents, teachers, and school nutrition professionals for sharing their stories!
By: Patrick Binder, student, Yankton, South Dakota
Aristotle once said, “Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.” As a young person, I recognize the issues that face my peers. When the food service director at my school approached me about being on a wellness council, I was ecstatic. It was an opportunity presented by an adult to engage youth in decision-making. I continue to meet with the wellness council in my district, where we work to positively impact the wellness policy of my school. Read more »
Young people are made honorary junior paleontologists in the rotunda of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. (Courtesy The Smithsonian Institution)
When most folks think about our grand and beautiful national forests they probably don’t conjure up images of a fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex munching on his morning prey or a gentle Brachiosaurus chewing enough leaves to nearly fell a small forest just to fill her vegetarian stomach.
But millions of years ago this was exactly what was happening on lands that today comprise national forests and grasslands like the Thunder Basin National Grassland. Read more »