The NCAT Energy Services Team Helps Mitigate Climate Change
The new numbers through Jun. 30, 2011 show that the energy efficiency and conservation projects our staff have been working on since 2006 now are saving 45,216,823 kWh per year. According to our Energy Operations Director Stacie Barry, that number means 170 railroad cars full of coal will not be needed each year. That number is also equivalent to the CO2 emissions from the energy use in 2,704 homes each year, or the greenhouse gas emissions from 6,144 passenger vehicles annually. Business Development Director Dave Houser said that all of the projects are estimated to have a fifteen-year measurable life, so in 15 years the 170 railroad cars will total 2,550 railroad cars. For more information about NCAT's energy work, please follow this link.
Announcing the Home Energy Savers Workshop Series provided by Human Resources Council Dist. XII and presented by NCAT. The goal of these workshops is to teach individuals about energy use in the home and ways they can reduce their usage, and thereby reduce their energy costs. For more information about the workshop and upcoming dates and locations, please follow this link.
Please note: NCAT is no longer in the running for the fruit tree orchard giveaway. Thanks for your votes!
(4/22/11) NCAT is in the finals of an online competition that could bring a fruit orchard to its Butte, Montana, office. We need everyone's help to win the plum, apple, cherry and juneberry trees, which would be planted on NCAT's land near the office.
It's easy to help. First, go to www.CommunitiesTakeRoot.com. You need to register before you can vote the first time, but you can save the log-in information, which makes the process much easier for subsequent votes. The site will show you a state-by-state list of contenders, and you simply choose the NCAT project.
Getting in the habit of voting regularly is important. The competition will award orchards to the five top vote getters each month from June through September.
The Communities Take Root program is sponsored by Dreyer's Fruit Bars, marketed as Edy's Fruit Bars in the East, and the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation.
NCAT Seeks to Maintain Sustainable Agriculture Service
(4/23/11) We are committed to maintaining our sustainable agriculture services and are exploring other funding options for the project in the wake of last week's fiscal 2011 federal budget reductions, which eliminated funding for the project.
Kathleen Hadley, Executive Director of NCAT, said that the service, known as ATTRA, is critical to agricultural producers across the country and the organization is committed to finding both short-term and long-term funding solutions. "Since its inception in 1987, this project has helped farmers, ranchers and market gardeners produce sustainably, reduce energy usage and maximize profits," said Hadley. "We cannot just abandon those individuals who have come to rely on our expertise and research-based solutions to agricultural challenges."
Generating revenue to meet operating costs for the next six months while Congress debates the fiscal 2012 budget is the first priority, Hadley said. Some of the options include increasing private donations from corporations, foundations and individuals, and charging a minimal fee for access to technical publications. NCAT is a non-profit holding 501(c)3 status, and donations to the organization are tax deductible.
NCAT is headquartered in Butte, MT and has regional offices in Arkansas, California, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Texas. As reported earlier, more than 20 NCAT staff across all its offices were affected by the funding cuts, either through layoffs or reduced work hours. "In the short-term, we need to raise enough funds to get our people back to work helping producers. This is normally an especially busy time for our staff as farmers and ranchers move ahead with spring planting."
In 2010 alone, NCAT staff presentations reached 177,000 attendees from 45 states. More than 3.3 million unique visitors accessed the service's website and nearly 6 million technical publications on agriculture topics were downloaded from the website.
"This volume indicates how critical our service is to people growing our food," Hadley said. "In essence, we are helping to promote local and regional economies by assisting farmers and ranchers to become more profitable. We are also helping to protect our natural resources and mitigate climate change, by showing producers how to grow using more sustainable or even organic techniques, and through helping them reduce the amount of energy their farming activities consume."
Hadley said NCAT continues to work to persuade legislators of the vital work of the project, so that funding can be restored in the 2012 budget. "We will be asking our friends to help in this effort shortly. Those who wish to be of assistance in this effort can visit our website, www.ncat.org, for more information about the message to send to their Senators and Representatives in Congress."
(4/14/11) Funding was eliminated in the Continuing Resolution passed by Congress on March 18th for NCAT's ATTRA project. The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, known as ATTRA, had its $2.8 million allocation for the current year zeroed out. The Congressional action, which cut an overall $6 billion from the Fiscal Year 2011 federal budget, was crafted to keep the federal government funded until April 8th.
Congress is in the midst of debate about funding for the remainder of this fiscal year, with this Friday, April 8th, as the deadline to pass another Continuing Resolution. You can have an impact by calling or emailing your federal legislators and asking them to restore ATTRA to the Fiscal 2011 budget. It is easy to connect with your Senators and Representatives: visit www.senate.gov or www.house.gov, to find your particular representative and Senator's contact information.
In 2010 the staff assigned to ATTRA answered more than 60,000 individual requests for information, and had nearly 6 million copies of sustainable agriculture publications downloaded from its website (www.attra.ncat.org). ATTRA webinars, radio shows, and conference presentations reached an additional 177,000 people from almost every state in the Union.
"It is distressing to see such a valuable and cost-effective program eliminated," said Kathleen Hadley, Executive Director of NCAT, which manages the ATTRA sustainable agriculture program. "For more than 25 years ATTRA has been the nation's leading resource for information on sustainable agriculture, covering a wide range of topics, including reducing pesticide use on cropland, promoting food safety in organic production, enriching soils with the use of cover crops, and providing technical assistance in the growing areas of local farmers' markets and urban gardening."
Hadley said that the justification for cutting ATTRA appears to be a misperception that it is an earmark program. "Unlike earmarks, ATTRA is a nationwide program, authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, and not directed to any Congressional Member's district or state. ATTRA has been included in presidential budgets through many administrations for over a quarter of a century. It is unfortunate that this cost-effective program was inappropriately labeled an earmark and targeted for elimination in the Continuing Resolution."
Hadley went to say that because ATTRA is a technical information service, it is a labor-intensive program and jobs were lost because of the lack of funding. "The funding cut has impacted jobs in Montana, Arkansas, Iowa and Pennsylvania. We are exploring revenue options for the ATTRA project for the long-term. However, in the short term we needed to reduce our staffing level, which unfortunately means some of our very talented and hard-working staff received lay-off notices this week. We have tried everything possible to avoid this situation but the real uncertainty of funding has forced us to make this move for the overall health of NCAT," said Hadley.
NCAT is working with other organizations nationwide that support ATTRA, to restore funding for the project this week when Congress considers yet another Continuing Resolution, this one likely to last for the rest of the fiscal year. Please help ATTRA by calling or emailing your legislators today.
(4/9/11) Just like many non-profit organizations across the country, the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) will be impacted by the funding discussions on Capitol Hill for both the remainder of this year and the 2012 budget. Several of our programs may experience funding cuts as a result of the cutbacks in agriculture and energy spending.
The United States Capitol Building
As an organization that has worked cooperatively with the federal government to revitalize communities, help people become self-sufficient and create new jobs, NCAT is concerned that the latest House budget proposal would negatively affect the efforts of many good institutions who offer on-the-ground, practical solutions that will solidify America's long term environmental and economic health.
As one example, NCAT manages the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, also known as the ATTRA program. ATTRA is a vital tool in assisting the fastest growing sector of the agricultural community – smaller sustainable family farms – become more ecologically and economically efficient and profitable. This small program, which is having a huge impact in revitalizing rural communities across the U.S., is authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill and has been funded since 1987.
Another example is our National Energy Corps AmeriCorps program, launched recently to provide hands-on energy assistance to low-income and disadvantaged communities and families in need, conduct energy education activities and help communities develop energy plans. In addition to providing critical services to communities and individuals, Energy Corps members have service and training opportunities that help them create pathways to future employment. The AmeriCorps program is not just funded by federal dollars; rather, it is a partnership between the government and local organizations. NCAT matches government funding with more than $500,000 in private funds to support its Energy Corps positions.
Both ATTRA and AmeriCorps have been targeted for elimination under the continuing resolution, H.R. 1, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on February 19th.
It is now a matter of bipartisan negotiations to develop a funding plan for the remainder of 2011 that addresses national, regional and state challenges. Because many friends of NCAT share our concern as Congressional dialogue continues, we will post updates about these and other NCAT programs that might be affected as information becomes available.
NCAT Recruiting Service Members for School Food Systems
Please note: The application deadline for the FoodCorps Program has passed. NCAT is no longer accepting applications.
(3/31/11) NCAT's Midwest office is now seeking six service members for the Iowa FoodCorps, part of a new and much anticipated national AmeriCorps service program. Those selected will work in school food systems to increase healthful local food for school cafeterias, expand nutrition education programs, and build and tend school gardens.
The national FoodCorps program grew out of the pioneering Montana FoodCorps program, which NCAT helped establish as part of a state-wide coalition called Grow Montana.
"We are thrilled to work with our partners to cultivate opportunities in rural and urban Iowa for FoodCorps members to dig school gardens, assist schools with local food sourcing, and teach kids about food, nutrition and agriculture," said Hannah Lewis, NCAT's Midwest region director. NCAT is partnering with Luther College in Decorah and Center for Energy and Environmental Education at University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls to place FoodCorps members.
FoodCorps is a national service program seeking young leaders for a year of public service. Visit foodcorps.org to learn more and apply!
FoodCorps is a scalable solution to the national obesity epidemic. Since 1980, the percentage of American children who are overweight or obese has doubled. With one in four U.S. children struggling with hunger and one in three obese or overweight, FoodCorps will work to address the root cause of both: access to healthy food.
"We hope to provide rich experiences for FoodCorps members while they assist us renewing a food culture around the pleasures of gardening, food preparations, eating a good meal, and knowing the source of our foods," said Kamyar Enshayan at University of Northern Iowa.
"This is a great new program that aligns perfectly with our work on school wellness and sustainability," said Jon Jensen, Director of Environmental Studies at Luther College. "Food Corps will provide unique work opportunities for young people while promoting local food in schools and educating kids about the food system."
(2/9/11) Volunteers across the country were asked to honor the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by observing a day "ON" rather than a day "OFF," and our Energy Corps AmeriCorps members turned out on Monday, January 17th, to do just that. Energy Corps members in Arkansas, Montana and Pennsylvania performed service activities that improved local communities.
Energy Corps members gather to honor Dr. King by performing service activities geared toward improving local communities.
In Arkansas, Energy Corps members were joined by volunteers from the local Home Depot store, the Fayetteville Boys and Girls Club and the Fayetteville Green Team students for a crew of more than 75 individuals (pictured above). This group concentrated their efforts at the Willow Bend affordable housing site in south Fayetteville. The 7-acre development site will eventually boast 40-45 sustainably built, energy efficient homes and Monday's work involved preparing the site for survey work. Tasks included trimming brush, clearing out invasive species, piling up brush for mulching and removing trash. Some nice media coverage at: http://nwahomepage.com/.
In Pennsylvania, our Energy Corps team partnered with the Energy Coordinating Agency of Philadelphia to conduct two energy education workshops at the agency's Green Jobs Training Center. About 20 members and volunteers went door to door in the city's Kensington neighborhood handing out fliers about the workshops. They also distributed information on winter readiness and energy saving tips. The 50 workshop attendees received free weatherization materials, and information on how to install the materials and save energy. Part of the team is pictured at left.
In Montana, Energy Corps members gathered in Helena to participate in the Dr. King Diversity Day event planned by the AmeriCorps Vista program of Helena. Energy Corps members distributed winter readiness information, energy-savings educational materials and handed out compact fluorescent light bulbs. Members also provided hands-on weatherization assistance to several area homes with materials donated by the Montana Conservation Corps. With the help of a variety of community volunteers, including seniors, the Energy Corps weatherized 12 homes in the Helena area throughout the day. More excellent community services provided by our staff.
(2/2/11) On February 17, NCAT will host a day-long workshop in Billings, Mont. on energy efficiency and renewable energy gants, loans, and rebates for Montana farmers, ranchers and businesses. The training will include a special focus on the USDA-RD Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant and loan program.
Deadline to apply for the Clean Energy Funding Workshop is February 11.
"The purpose of this workshop is to show what funding is available for clean energy projects, and to remove some of the mystery and difficulty associated with applying for these funds," said Al Kurki, NCAT program specialist and workshop coordinator. "We also wanted to expand the support network of people who could help applicants find their way through all the paperwork and succeed."
This workshop is brought to you by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) along with the Joliet Food and Ag Center at Beartooth RC&D, Montana DEQ's Renewable Energy Program, Harvesting Clean Energy, Montana Economic Developers Association, Montana Dakota Utilities, Northwestern Energy, and the Montana Department of Agriculture in partnership with USDA Rural Development in Montana.
The workshop takes place February 17, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., at the MetraPark in Billings, Mont. Cost to attend is $50. This fee includes workshop materials, lunch, and admission to the 35th Annual Montana Agricultural Trade Expo and Home & Health Expo.
For more information, including a detailed agenda and registration form:
NorTrac 25HP NT254B tractor with loader and backhoe.
Do you need a new toy for your farm? Thanks to a generous donation from our board member Maricela Gallegos and her husband, Herman, NCAT has a tractor for sale. The tractor is a NorTrac 25HP NT254B, model number 188014. It comes with a 60" Amerequip loader (model number NT700), a 13" Amerequip backhoe (model number NT660), and PTO three-point wood chipper.
All of the equipment is in excellent condition. The tractor was puchased new in June 2009 and has less than 60 hours of use. Asking price for the tractor, loader and backhoe is $15,000, and $1,400 for the wood chipper. Suggested retail price for this tractor in brand new condition, without the wood chipper, is $19,000.
The tractor is currently being stored south of Pueblo, Colo. in Trinidad, Colo. at H&M Implement Company. H&M Implement can provide you with technical specifications and details. They can be reached at (719) 846-6095.
The tractor can be picked up directly by the purchaser if he or she has a vehicle capable of pulling a flatbed, or can be shipped via truck freight -- carrier or flat-bed (not UPS). In addition to the shipping fee, there may be an unloading fee if the truck driver has to drive the tractor off the truck at the delivery site
If you are interested in purchasing the tractor or have any questions, contact Sandra Booth, (406) 494-4572 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR) is a free service for persons who want information on where to apply for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which may pay a portion of the energy bills of eligible low-income persons. Call 1-866-NRG-NEAR
(866-674-6327) or TTY 1-866-367-6228.
Keys to Successful Solar Design
Take-to-the-field guides designed to help homeowners and builders successfully plan and implement energy efficient homes using solar energy.