News Release

USDA Programs Featured At Smithsonian's Annual Folklife Festival On National Mall

Agriculture Secretary Johanns Kicked Off Festival With Smithsonian Officials Highlighting Forest Service and Food Culture in the U.S.

Washington
June 23, 2005 -

U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service is featured this year as part of the Smithsonian Institution's 39th annual Folklife Festival, showcasing Forest Service occupational culture and heritage during its centennial year and highlighting the many unique contributions the Forest Service and its more than 30,000 employees have made to the nation.

"It is a tremendous and unique honor to have a federal agency highlighted at the Smithsonian's festival," said Johanns at the opening ceremony kicking off the 10-day festival. "This year the Forest Service marks its centennial of preserving our nation's greatest resource, our national forests. This is a fantastic opportunity for all of us to learn about the rich history, traditions, core values and dedication of the Forest Service and its employees in caring for the land and serving people."

"Forest Service, Culture and Community" brings more than 100 participants to the National Mall, including tree pathologists, wildlife biologists, law enforcement officers, horticulturalists, botanists, bird banders, archaeologists, firefighters, smokejumpers, recreation specialists, backcountry rangers and camp cooks. An "interactive forest" on the Mall, featuring two dozen live trees, provides an area for tree doctors, rangers and interpreters to conduct hands-on tours for visitors. The "Sounds of the Forest" stage features bluegrass, country-western and folk music, much of it performed by current Forest Service employees.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Forest Service, which was created by President Theodore Roosevelt to sustain healthy, diverse and productive forests and grasslands for future generations. During the festival, visitors will be able to see a timeline that displays highlights of Forest Service history; a house constructed with energy-efficient materials developed by the agency's Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisc.; and dozens of employees discussing the camaraderie and culture of working for the Forest Service. For a detailed schedule of Forest Service program activities taking place during the festival, visit: http://www.folklife.si.edu/

In addition, USDA is collaborating with the Smithsonian on the Food Culture USA program also being featured at the festival. At the Food Culture USA exhibit, visitors get a first hand look at the various ways USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service and Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) help provide the American people with safe, wholesome and affordable food products. AMS will provide a narrative demonstration featuring four commodity program areas. For example, dairy programs will demonstrate and discuss techniques used in the grading of cheeses. Visitors to this exhibit will gain an appreciation of dairy product grading as a vital link in the marketing chain. More information about AMS commodity programs can be found at http://www.ams.usda.gov

Attendees have the opportunity to participate in food safety demonstrations and learn about the ways to protect themselves from foodborne illness. In addition to hands-on learning and interaction with USDA food safety experts, visitors have the opportunity to participate in four narrative sessions including, Links in the Food Chain: Food Safety. Information about USDA's food safety efforts can found at www.fsis.usda.gov

Also, USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service and the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) will participate in the Food Culture USA exhibit. CNPP will participate on the Edible Schoolyard Ramada narrative stage at the Food Culture USA program at 3 p.m. on June 23, 27, July 2 and 4. They will answer the public's nutrition questions and highlight http://www.choosemyplate.gov/, the new tool to help consumers use the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The Smithsonian's Folklife Festival is an annual outdoor event that will take place on the National Mall and runs from Thurs., June 23 through Mon., June 27 and Thurs., June 30 through Mon., July 4. Admission is free. Festival hours are 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day, with concerts, dance parties and special events continuing into most evenings.