Developing a modern USDA for a stronger rural America means equipping USDA’s employees who work in every American state and U.S. territory, as well as in over 50 countries, with information technology tools that ensure they are better informed, better engaged and better able to provide critical feedback to policy makers in real-time.
Mobile devices, enterprise e-mail, video teleconferencing, online employee forums, social media and instant messaging allow employees who fight against hunger, food-borne illness and wildland fires to deliver their mission as well as serve the American public, while coordinating efforts with co-workers and decision makers across vast geographic distances. By remaining connected to both customers in the field and to regional and national government leaders, the on-the-ground knowledge of customer needs can much more quickly drive needed changes in policies and procedures that make USDA’s programs more accessible to the American public. Read more »
Today, USDA proposed the establishment of minimum national professional standards and training requirements for school nutrition professionals who manage and operate the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.
The standards, another key provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA), aim to institute education and certification standards for school nutrition professionals. These new standards will ensure that school nutrition personnel have the training and tools they need to plan, prepare and purchase healthy products to create nutritious, safe and enjoyable school meals.
As a former school nutrition director I can tell you that school nutrition professionals across the country are pleased with the new meal patterns established by the HHFKA, which requires schools to prepare healthier meals for 32 million children each day. Schools are at the forefront of national efforts to improve nutrition and reduce obesity in our Nation’s children. Read more »
California Conservation Corps Veterans Green Jobs members receiving training and hands-on work experience in forestry and firefighting skills. (CCC photo)
The U.S. Forest Service actively recruits eligible veterans for multiple occupations. Currently, veterans make up over 12 percent of the Forest Service workforce. The agency values the experience, commitment and work ethic that veterans bring to the job, as well as their significant skills and abilities.
Two programs are of particular importance to veterans who are seeking an opportunity to get their boot in the door and improve their chances of being hired by a land management agency.
In its third year, nationally, the Veterans Fire Corps program is operated as a partnership with the Student Conservation Association. It’s a collaborative initiative that builds upon the knowledge, leadership experience and training of men and women who served in the armed forces, retraining them and refocusing their mission to protecting public lands from the threat of wildfire. Read more »
It’s no secret that agricultural work is tough work – and as America’s farm families know, it can be dangerous. Last year, agriculture recorded the highest fatal injury rate of any industry, with the rate of on-the-job fatality in agriculture nearly seven times the rate for all U.S. workers.
Adding complexity to this challenge is the unique role that youth play on the farm and ranch. Many farms and ranches are a family business. This important tradition strengthens American agriculture and instills important life skills for our young people.
Unfortunately, this means that young people also share in the hazards of farm work. On average, more than 100 youth die each year in farm-related accidents. Thousands more are injured on the farm or ranch. Read more »
Boxelder Job Corps certified culinary essentials educator, Dave Levesque, center, works with culinary arts students, Trevor Robertus, left, Mathew McGirr and Duanna Martin, right, as they create cherry puffs with chocolate sauce on June 1. Levesque was chosen as Chef of the Year for the American Culinary Federation's South Dakota Chapter. (Rapid City Journal Photo/ Tim Appel)
For the past eight years, students in the Boxelder Job Corps Center culinary arts program have benefited from chef Dave Levesque’s wide-ranging cooking experiences.
Located in the Black Hills National Forest near Nemo, the Boxelder Job Corps Center has 24 students in its culinary arts curriculum, which is one of 10 different trades taught at the school. Read more »
When the first Europeans settled in what is now the United States, they found a continent of extensive wildlands. In less than 500 years, the undeveloped nature of these wildlands has been reduced significantly. As they became increasingly scarce and a fledgling conservation movement lost natural treasures like Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley to development, Americans began to appreciate their value.
View of the Sawtooth Range in Idaho. U.S. Forest Service photo.
With passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964, a new course in history was chartered — to preserve some of the country’s last remaining wild places and protect their natural processes and values from development. Read more »