Skip to main content

March 2014

MyPlate On Rutgers Campus

The MyPlate On Campus initiative, USDA’s effort to promote healthy eating on college campuses nationwide through peer-to-peer education, launched 1 year ago. In that time, nearly 2,000 students, representing all 50 states, have joined the cause by becoming MyPlate On Campus Ambassadors. It has been exciting to watch it grow and see the creative ways that students are bringing nutrition education to life on their campus. Read below about how one group of passionate students is helping to spread the MyPlate message:

By Rebecca Tonnessen and Alex Essenfeld, MyPlate On Campus Ambassadors at Rutgers University, New Jersey

As nutrition students at Rutgers University, we are all excited and passionate about being MyPlate On Campus Ambassadors. Working with dining services and the nutrition department in a joint effort to educate our peers, the RU Healthy Dining team strives to educate the Rutgers community through nutritional booths, newsletters, and outreach programs. As MyPlate Ambassadors and nutrition leaders, we integrate MyPlate into our activities. Our newsletters incorporate MyPlate tips and are distributed to our student body in the dining halls.

USDA to Co-Host Pacific Northwest Wood-to-Biofuel Conference

In conjunction with Washington State University Extension, USDA is co-hosting the Northwest Wood-Based Biofuels/Co-Products Conference in late April. The conference will be April 28-30, 2014 in Seattle, Wash.

The goal of the conference is to bring together the community of researchers, business leaders, government agencies, and economic development personnel to share and exchange research findings, ideas, and strategies for the common goal of sustainable development of wood-based bio-refineries for production of biofuels and co-products in the Pacific Northwest.

National Forest Works With Florida Officials, Off-Highway Vehicle Users, to Build Trailhead

For many, the “great” in “the great outdoors” answers the call to hit the open road with body, soul and little else except their motorcycle. That got a little easier on the Apalachicola National Forest in Florida with the opening of a new trailhead beckoning riders with easier trail access and opportunity to ride for recreation.

The grand opening of the new Springhill Motorcycle Trailhead south of Tallahassee, Fla., highlights the U.S. Forest Service policy to develop a system of roads, trails and areas designated for motor vehicle use.

The project includes a new, single-span aluminum bridge to connect the forest’s separate motorized northern and southern trails. The prefabricated 90-foot Fisher Creek Bridge, shipped in two sections, replaces an older, antiquated bridge that stretched across the waterway.

The Modern Farmer and USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service

For generations, children have been singing about the farmer, his wife and kids, and even the mouse and the cheese. But today, a modern farmer is more likely to be using the mouse on his computer (or more realistically, a smartphone or tablet) than dancing around a small wooded valley with his family and farm animals.

The website of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service,, has been evolving to keep pace with the needs of today’s farmer. Our mission is to provide American farmers, ranchers and other visitors with the tools and resources they are looking for on a site that is easy to use and navigate.

Grandparents Help Kids Develop Good Eating Habits

Grandkids are a grandparent’s greatest treasure.  From time to time during grandchildren’s young lives, grandparents may have the pleasure of being their caregiver.  Show them how to be healthy, including how to make healthy food choices--an important way grandparents show how much they love and care about their grandchildren.

As a proud grandmother, I can attest that grandkids learn by example!  They mimic everything you do, so be a healthy role model by taking care of yourself and they will learn to value healthy habits.  Use to guide your food choices and better understand the nutrition needs of young children in your life.  Take your grandchildren shopping at a farmer’s market and the grocery store.  Talk about the choices you are making—choosing the juicier oranges or the fresher vegetables.  Help them learn cooking skills, which will benefit them throughout their lives. Encourage them to be active throughout the day.

The Women of Agriculture: Paving the Path for a New Tomorrow

During this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama laid out an important call to action for our country:

"This year let's all come together, Congress, the White House, businesses from Wall Street to Main Street, to give every woman the opportunity she deserves, because I believe when women succeed, America succeeds."

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, I would like to call attention to the remarkable work of women of agriculture. Not only are women the heart of many family farming operations across the country, women are starting and growing their own agricultural businesses– creating opportunity and economic growth for their families and in their local communities.

Honoring Fallen Law Enforcement Heroes in Western North Carolina

Law-enforcement peers, U.S. Forest Service employees, dignitaries and friends gathered at the McDowell County High School in Marion, N.C. last week to honor Forest Service law enforcement officer Jason Crisp and his K-9 partner, Maros. Among the memorial service attendees were 75 K-9 officers and their partners who paid tribute to both fallen officers.

U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory were among the thousands who filled the school’s gymnasium.

Crisp and Maros were shot and killed on March 12 pursuing a suspect who, just hours earlier, had allegedly killed his father and step-mother. As they had so many times before, Crisp and Maros were working to keep the Grandfather Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest, and surrounding area safe.

USDA Staff Receive National Award for Conservation Efforts

Check into any hotel in Connecticut and look around the front desk or the gift shop, and you’ll see postcards with pictures familiar to all “Nutmeggers” – the ones that let Connecticut residents know they’re home. They often show scenic vistas filled with assorted shades of yellow, gold, and red of trees during fall – a paradise for the “Leaf Peeper.”

But it isn’t only about beauty. The residents of Connecticut depend on the state’s woodlands every day to build and heat homes, take hikes, observe wildlife and breathe air. We need the goods, service, and protection trees provide.

That’s why USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), U.S. Forest Service and other conservation partners work to protect forests.

USDA Foods Get Even Greener

St. Patrick’s Day might be over, but at USDA we’re still sporting our green.  That’s because of the success of one food in particular—a vegetable underdog: broccoli!  As one of the newest additions to the USDA Foods lineup, AMS purchased 6.87 million pounds (nearly $7.6 million) of broccoli during FY 2013, and FY 2014 purchasing has been even more robust.

Each year, the AMS Commodity Procurement Staff (AMS-CP) spends nearly $2 billion on 2 billion pounds of frozen, processed, and fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish and eggs, otherwise known as USDA Foods.  The AMS-CP mission is to support American agriculture and promote domestic production by purchasing commodities, while meeting the needs of federal food assistance programs across the country.

Secretary's Column: Our Nation's Wilderness: Yours to Enjoy and Protect

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. When he signed the Act in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson said, “If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it."

His foresight, along with the work of many of his contemporaries, has allowed generations of Americans to enjoy the natural beauty of our nation.

The Wilderness Act itself was landmark legislation that formally established protections for undeveloped tracts of land across the United States and created the country’s National Wilderness Preservation System.