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Scholarly Pursuits

Established in 1992, the 1890 National Scholars Program is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the 1890 Land-Grant Universities. College students accepted into the program receive valuable on-the-job training with USDA agencies and are often eligible for conversion to full-time employment after successful completion of degree requirements.

Trillion Trees: Reducing Wildfire Risk, Protecting People and Wildlife

An opaque, autumn haze smothers much of the western United States from the millions of acres burning across forests in the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains. Fire size and severity are rising in tandem with record heat, low winter snowpack, decreased summer rains, and abundant forest fuels. Wildfires in the West doubled in total size between 2000-2015 compared to the previous 15 years, burning an average 6.8 million acres annually in the last decade. This trend has wide-ranging consequences on the health and productivity of our national forests, our drinking water supplies, and wildlife habitat.

An Important Action to Take: Check Your Trees!

Did you know that USDA has declared August as Tree Check Month? That’s because August is the peak time of year to spot the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB)—an invasive wood-boring beetle that attacks 12 types of hardwood trees in North America, such as maples, elms, horse chestnuts, birches and willows. Checking trees for the beetle and the damage it causes is one way residents can protect their own trees and help USDA’s efforts to eliminate this pest from the United States.

During COVID-19, Central PA is Fighting Hunger One Bus at a Time

In 2018, Mel Curtis, Branch Director of the Moshannon Valley YMCA of Centre County and Pauline Rabb, CEO with Cen-Clear Child Services, joined forces to retrofit a 72-passenger bus with a kitchen and appliances and dubbed it The Travelin’ Table Mobile Feeding Bus. The initiative was created to serve the children of Centre and Clearfield Counties not only with food, but also medical and dental care from Penn State University. In addition, the bus offers educational enrichment and physical activities.

Promoting Pollinators with Agroforestry

Plant pollination by animals is critical for healthy ecosystems and an estimated 85% of the world’s flowering plants depend on animals, mostly insects, like bees, for pollination.

Value-Added Ag Products Help Home Cooks and Bakers Experiment in the Kitchen

In recent months, people around the world have found new ways to spend time at home. Many Americans have picked up hobbies like arts and crafts, working out, and – of course – cooking and baking. You may not know that many popular recipes feature value-added products. A value-added product is one that has had a change in its original physical state or form – such as milling wheat into flour and making fruit into jam. The method of production (organic, for example) and the way it is marketed can also enhance value. According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, 33,523 farms produced value-added products in 2017, totaling $4.04 billion in sales.

Hope One Mobile Unit on the Frontlines of COVID-19 Fight with Rural Development’s Support

I knew that the delivery of the Hope One Mobile Unit in March was going to be an exciting event. Born out of USDA Rural Development’s (USDA RD) partnership with the Hansen Foundation, the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office and AtlantiCare, and with the help of a $134,000 Community Facilities Grant in the summer of 2018, Hope One was expected to be staffed by medical and law enforcement personnel who would provide recovery services to people struggling with opioid addiction.

Shopping Online? Look for the USDA Grade Shield

Whether you are shopping online or in the grocery store, the USDA grade shield on meat, poultry and eggs is a sign that the product meets certain voluntary national quality standards and has been graded by an USDA employee based on those standards.

Today’s Lesson: Prepare Safe Lunches

With the 2020-2021 school year approaching, many parents are preparing for changes to their routine. Many students may be returning to school for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began and others may be distance learning. Don’t let foodborne illness – commonly called food poisoning – keep your child from learning. Take the time to plan and prepare your children’s lunch meals safely.

Three RD Partners in Virginia Meet the Challenge of COVID-19

During COVID-19, I’ve been touched to see so many examples of Americans making sacrifices for the health and safety of their fellow citizens. I’m proud to say that rural Virginians also extended helping hands in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to share three such examples of our Rural Development partners who are combining compassion with ingenuity to serve their neighbors.