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Montana

USDA's Diversity Programs "Open New Doors" for Montana Student

Robert G. Bruton grew up on the Flathead Indian Reservation in northwestern Montana in a family that, like many others, was severely challenged by the rising college tuition costs. He is not a Native American, but he chose to attend Salish Kootenai Tribal College in Pablo, Montana, in part because of its reasonable cost.

He knew he liked chemistry and his grades were good enough to qualify him to serve as a science and math tutor for fellow students. The school was one of the few tribal colleges nationwide that offered four-year bachelor’s degrees. But as a first-year student, Bruton was like a lot of other people – he wasn’t quite sure what direction his life would take.

Students Get Involved in School Lunch through School Lunch Advisory Councils

There are many ways Team Nutrition schools are involving students in the development of school meal menus and health promotion activities.  These activities can help schools offer nutritious foods in a manner that appeals to children and can help students learn about nutrition and school foodservice.  This guest blog highlights promising strategies for involving students in school meals through the use of School Lunch Advisory Councils.  It also describes how Montana students are playing a role in helping their schools implement Smarter Lunchrooms techniques to reduce food waste and increase consumption of healthful foods.  

Interested in implementing Smarter Lunchrooms techniques at your school? Get started with this free self-assessment checklist from the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Program. Team Nutrition provides nutrition education materials, training tools, and grants to assist schools in creating healthier environments. Learn more about Team Nutrition and how to become a Team Nutrition school at http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/team-nutrition.

Good Land Management Helps Clean Waterways, Wildlife Rebound

You've seen those markers on storm drains that say: “No dumping. Drains to river.” Or to a “lake” or “creek.” It’s a reminder that what we do on the land has a direct impact on a body of water somewhere.

Many of our nation's farmers, ranchers and forest landowners are taking steps to ensure they're sending cleaner water downstream. The positive outcomes of this stewardship abound. From Oklahoma to Mississippi, we’ve seen once impaired streams heal. And in waterways from Montana to Minnesota, we've seen struggling species rebound.

Creeks, streams, rivers and lakes all provide critical wildlife habitat for many species.

The Science Behind Fire

In recent months, we have all become familiar with images in the media of wildland firefighters digging lines, air tankers dropping retardant and fire engines dispersing water. You may wonder “how do these firefighters know what it takes to fight fire?”

The short answer is: research.

Before a wildland firefighter sees his or her first fire, they are given the tools and training on how to fight fire and its behavior. The information passed onto them is not learned overnight but rather through years of research.

Citizen Scientists Help Monitor Nation's Watershed Health

What do adventurers, microplastics, and your national forests have in common?

Water.

Our national forests and the glaciers, lakes, and rivers running through them form the headwaters for the majority of America’s drinking water. This includes many of our big cities and growing urban centers, even those that are far away from national forests. Because of its importance, protecting clean, abundant water is a priority for the U.S. Forest Service, and thankfully, it’s a priority of a growing number of our partners.

Organic Study Uses Domestic Sheep to Facilitate Sustainable Farming

Environmental and economic management of weeds and pests is a priority for organic farmers and they typically use tillage to address these issues. However, frequent mechanical tillage can reduce soil integrity, which increases costs for farmers and negatively impacts future crop growth. Now, Montana State University (MSU) researchers are studying an alternate technique to manage these issues—domestic sheep.

Instead of using traditional tilling machinery or herbicides, MSU’s project features domestic sheep that graze farmland to eliminate the cover crop and control weeds. The study will determine if an integrated animal and crop production system is an economically feasible way to reduce tillage for certified organic farms.

46 Million-Year-Old Eocene World in a Forest

An intrepid fossil hunter on the U.S. Forest Service’s Flathead National Forest in northwest Montana doesn’t need to dig too deep to find exquisitely preserved fossil insects with traces of their original stomach contents. Amazing as this sounds you just need to visit rock outcrops of the Kishenehn Formation exposed on the banks of the Flathead River.

There, researchers affiliated with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History have discovered a treasure trove of tiny, 46-million year old fossil insects from the Eocene Epoch, which were deposited in sediments of an ancient lake early during the Age of Mammals. The preserved insects—over 7,000 specimens have been collected over the last several years—include fossil mosquitos. At least one specimen preserves an abdomen still engorged from its last meal.

High Five Series: Rural America is Home for the Holidays

Oh, there’s nooooo place like hooooome for the holidays… Every time I hear that song I get an extra spring in my step knowing that I work for an organization that helped more than 160,000 families afford to buy, rent, or repair their homes this year. That’s 160,000 families in rural America that are home for the Holidays.

This year, 50 New Hampshire families living in one of our rental housing facilities were on the verge of losing their homes, but because of local community action groups, and my amazing team of affordable rural housing professionals, USDA Rural Development is able to continue to provide rental assistance to 50 Granite State families for the next 30 years.  Last month, we were able to close a deal that will keep these 50 families, and an additional 50 elderly and disabled tenants in a neighboring affordable housing community in their homes affordably for the next 30 years.

2015: A Banner Year for School Meals and the Health of our Nation's Schoolchildren

It’s been another outstanding year for healthier school meals programs and the millions of American students that benefit from them.  Today, more than 97 percent of schools nationwide report they are meeting the updated school meal standards, which are based on pediatricians’ and nutritionists’ recommendations. The new meals provide children more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy, as well as less sugar, fat, and sodium.  There are numerous examples of how schools are providing a healthier school environment with more nutritious options to students across the country, but below are just a few:

A New Day for Healthcare in Livingston, Montana

When the first patient was admitted to the newly constructed Livingston HealthCare Hospital in late October, it marked a new era in state-of-the-art care for residents of Park County, Montana. The new critical care center boasts a Level IV Trauma Center with heli-pad, twenty-five beds, and 125,000 square feet to provide modern, high quality health care services to the over 15,000 people in the region.

And it's happening none too soon.