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Food for Thought Exhibit: Putting the Dietary Guidelines into Action at the Koshland Science Museum

On November 15, 2012, the National Academy of Sciences Koshland Science Museum here in Washington, DC, premiered its new Food for Thought exhibit. This engaging experience offers an interactive and thought-provoking opportunity for visitors to explore the practical how-to of healthy eating.

To kick off the grand opening of the exhibit, the Koshland held its second Healthy Plate Cook-Off, which featured healthy meals prepared by teams of students from the DC Central Kitchen culinary training program. The student teams were required to follow the guidance that supports MyPlate (at in preparing their recipes and meals. The teams’ meals were judged by a panel of nutrition and health professionals for taste, appearance, and nutritional value.  I was honored to represent the Department and serve as a judge at this event.

In Sandy's Wake, Partners Work to Save Pets

Hurricane Sandy brought together an un-tested coalition of animal welfare groups, local governments and federal agencies focusing on one primary goal: Using already established human assistance networks to help states feed pets impacted by the massive storm.

A team of animal care experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service (APHIS) responded to the urgent need. Inside the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Response Coordination Center in Washington, they pulled long shifts before, during and after Sandy’s devastation to locate tons of available pet food throughout the United States -- overcoming nature’s torrential fury and cutting through delays.

Tribal College Program Fills Veterinary Void in the Southwest

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA's rich science and research profile.

USDA honors the achievements of American Indians during Native American Heritage Month and year-round.  With educational funding and support from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Navajo Technical College in Crownpoint, N.M., is one of the many tribal colleges and 1994 land-grant institutions doing considerable work in the scientific fields.

Native American Heritage Month Observance at USDA

I was honored last week to participate in the annual Native American Heritage Month observance at USDA’s Jefferson Auditorium.  A near-capacity crowd watched as the Vietnam Era Veterans Intertribal Association presented the colors. That gesture was especially fitting, given this year’s theme of “Serving with Honor, Pride and Devotion: Country, Land and People.”

Following the blessing, given by Bahe Rock of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources Arthur “Butch” Blazer, a member of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, read a letter of support on behalf of Secretary Vilsack and noted that “When President Obama issued a proclamation designating November as Native American Heritage Month, it made me proud to be an American and a Native American.”  He spoke of the continuing efforts of the Secretary to promote diversity in hiring at USDA.

Thursday #AskUSDA Twitter Chat: USDA Conservation Efforts and Reconnecting with the Great Outdoors

Do you have questions about national conservation or wildlife preservation efforts? Have you ever wondered about the effect of wildfires in our national forests? Wondering how you can give back to the great outdoors? You’re in luck!

USDA Senior Advisor to the Secretary for Environment and Climate Change Robert Bonnie will be hosting a live Virtual Office Hours session on Twitter this Thursday to answer your questions about USDA’s record conservation achievements and efforts to reconnect Americans to the great outdoors.

Special Delivery: Colorado Christmas Tree Arrives at U.S. Capitol

Every year, the Forest Service plays an integral role in providing the annual Capitol Christmas Tree, known as “The People’s tree”, from one of the agency’s 155 national forests to bedazzle the U.S. Capitol lawn. This year’s tree, a 73-foot Engleman Spruce, comes from the White River National Forest, in central Colorado.

Have you ever wondered how this tree gets transported from one of our many national forests to the nation’s capital?

South Dakota USDA Staff Observes Native American Heritage Month

USDA Rural Development in South Dakota is celebrating the Annual Native American Heritage Month of November through traditional stories, original Native American artwork and friendly competition, helping those inside and outside of USDA to learn and enjoy Native American history and culture. This sharing will continue throughout the month of November, culminating with a Native American interactive day on Wednesday, November 28, which will include traditional teachings, a light meal, and fun-filled games for all participants.

Jamaica and the United States Team Up to Keep Out Invasive Pests

The “Don’t Pack a Pest” campaign went international last month as Jamaica enthusiastically kicked off its own version of the outreach initiative in Montego Bay and Kingston.  The Florida-based program warns the public about the risks of bringing undeclared agricultural products—and hitchhiking invasive pests—from one country to another.  It’s a cooperative effort among the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and now the Jamaica Ministry of Agriculture.

Secretary's Column: Recognizing Native American Heritage Month

This November, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has joined Americans across the country in recognizing Native American Heritage Month. We’ve taken time to honor the contributions of more than 5 million Native Americans across the United States. We’ve also reaffirmed our special relationship with those who live, work and raise their families in rural America.

Rural America provides so much to all of us – abundant food, clean water, beautiful outdoor spaces, renewable energy and more. The positive impact of our rural areas is further strengthened by the diversity, knowledge and tradition of Tribal communities.  

Today, more than 55 million acres across America is Tribal land, much of it in rural areas. Agriculture is a leading employer in Tribal communities. The number of Native American producers is on the rise, up almost 90 percent.

Forest Service International Programs Leads Study Tour for Chileans

During an eight-day trip, Toby Bloom, Forest Service International Programs specialist, led four delegates from the Chilean Forest Commission to the Southwest Region to learn ways to involve indigenous groups in public use planning and environmental outreach.  The group visited the Jemez Pueblo Visitor Center, Zuni Pueblo, and several national forests and reserves with significance to Native American tribes. The visitors met with the Kaibab National Forest Cooperative Management team to discuss their roles in collaborating and communicating with the seven tribes bordering the forest.

Local and regional Forest Service staff shared with the Chileans the types of conflicts or concerns they deal with on a daily basis, such as how to manage sacred sites and cultural resources/plants within the forest, how to keep tribes informed about Forest Service activities, and how to solicit feedback on management activities including fuel reduction, concession infrastructure, hunting and other permits.