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Independent science to help reimagine our food production system is needed today more than ever. Scientific censorship in the federal system has become blatant as science messaging is harmonized by bureaucrats that are dependent on industry funds. There are good scientists in large institutions, but these establishments are dependent on large sources of funds to keep running, and that money influences the scientific dialogue.
One year ago, farmers (croppers, beekeepers, ranchers), people who buy food, and those who care about our natural resources stepped forward. Through small donations of money, labor, and supplies, you helped to support a research facility in regenerative agriculture. That has never happened before!
To keep our science independent and continue serving you, please consider supporting us again!
Consider making a tax deductible gift!
Make checks payable to:
Ecdysis Foundation (5019(c)(3)) or Blue Dasher Farm
46958 188th Street
Estelline, SD, 57234, USA
Or donate through our website
(The word Ecdysis means metamorphosis- shedding the old skin- and is our non-profit company)
We certainly have not been idle; the contributions in 2016 were used to support some amazing accomplishments. Thanks to your support, Blue Dasher Farm was able to:
- Built a world-class research facility to service the needs of innovative farmers. There were four walls, a floor and a ceiling, but not much else. There are up to a dozen projects ongoing at any one time in our facility.
- Established a demonstration farm in regenerative agriculture. Farm equipment was purchased and maintained, crops were established and harvested, orchard trees planted, and poultry started.
- Raised 25 bee hives. Hive boxes were purchased, assembled, branded and painted. Then we experienced the “bee problem” first hand...
- Employed 10 young, enthusiastic scientists who are going to change the world.
- Published 12 peer-reviewed papers, three of which are in the top 3% of all scientific papers ever written in their social media impact.
- Presented 23 invited talks to farmer and scientific groups in five countries (Australia, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, and the U.S.), discussing agriculture-based solutions to the bee problem and regenerative food systems. At these events, we reached 5,000 face-to-face contacts.
- Keynoted the 2017 National Bee Conference.
- Presented on risks of GM crops to the United Nations Conference on Biodiversity.
- Was awarded the “Friend of the Farmer Award” by the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society.
- Blue Dasher Farm was featured in three documentary films.
- Amidst many other things…
Our agenda for 2017 that needs your support includes:
- Expanding our crop diversity, and establishing the orchard.
- Integrating sheep and additional poultry into our operation.
- Expanding to 100 bee hives (any nucs you can spare would be appreciated).
- Making progress toward building the education facility.
Research projects will include:
- Assess the risks of fungicide-insecticide synergisms on beneficial insects.
- Develop predators and essential oils as stop gaps to hive losses caused by Varroa.
- Evaluate the risks of neonicotinoid insecticides on grasslands and natural areas used by endangered butterflies.
- Examine the systems-level benefits of intercrops in corn fields on biodiversity and farm profitability.
- Assess the role of flowering Brassica cover crops on subterranean pests of soybeans.
- Determine the benefits to honey bees and native pollinators of a flowering oilseed crop (Brassica carinata) that is considered a potential revenue stream for farmers.
- Link nutritional status of honey bees with landscape features.
- Implement a farmer-driven, national research program on cover crop diversity and beneficial insect conservation.
Please consider supporting our ambitious agenda. The science that you produce will be delivered to you with transparency and integrity.
Dr. Jonathan Lundgren
Jenna Lundgren and the Blue Dasher Farm/Ecdysis Foundation team
Beekeepers and Farmers Oppose Pesticide Company Mergers
For Immediate Release: February 13, 2017
Michele Colopy, Pollinator Stewardship Council, 832-727-9492, email@example.com
Jeannie Economos, Farmworker Association of Florida, 407-886-5151, Farmworkerassoc@aol.com
Lisa Griffith, National Family Farm Coalition, 773-319-5838, firstname.lastname@example.org
Linda Wells, PAN, 563-940-1242, email@example.com
Kate Colwell, Friends of the Earth, 202-222-0744, firstname.lastname@example.org
Angela Huffman, Organization for Competitive Markets, 614-390-7552, email@example.com
Over 300 food and farm groups Urge Jeff Sessions to oppose agricultural mega- mergers
Call on new DOJ leader to put farmer, consumer, worker interests above corporations
(Washington, D.C.)— Nearly 325 farming, beekeeping, farmworker, religious, food safety, and conservation advocacy groups today urged the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct a thorough investigation into the proposed mergers of the world’s largest agrochemical and seed companies. Groups urged Jeff Sessions, the new Attorney General, to enjoin the mergers of Dow Chemical with DuPont, Monsanto with Bayer AG, and Syngenta with ChemChina on the grounds that they will drive up food and farming costs, threaten global food security, curtail innovation, threaten the health of farmworkers, and limit farmer choice. This letter comes on the heels of the Senate’s vote to confirm Senator Sessions to be the head of the Department of Justice. The letter was also delivered today to members of Congress and state attorneys general.
The letter points to the adverse and wide-ranging consequences of these mergers stating that, “Conglomerates of such massive scale, breadth and reach, such as those proposed by these mergers, pose a real risk to our economy, to our agricultural sector, to public health, to food security, to the environment and to the general health of the agricultural and food business climate. Dominance of this magnitude can pose both domestic and international consequences that would be irreversible, once set in motion.”
Farmers and their allies across the country implored the new Attorney General to block the merger.
"Farmers across the country know that these mergers will result in fewer options and higher prices for the inputs we rely on. Already, a third of what a farmer makes for a corn harvest goes to pay for the seed alone; in the end there is nothing left for the farm family. We’ve seen what happens when too few companies control too much of the market, and these mergers would only make a bad situation worse,” said Mike Weaver, president, Organization for Competitive Markets.
"The decline in the quality of plant breeding for conventional varieties and the corresponding increase in the use of crop chemicals will continue, as the merged companies narrow their interests yet further to a few number of products likely to bring in the greatest profit for those biotech companies. The past two decades have shown us that herbicide-resistant GMO seeds have been the favorite for companies like Monsanto, Dow and Syngenta because they boost the sale of pesticides, "said Aaron Lehman, a grain farmer and president of Iowa Farmers Union.
“These agrichemical company mergers would be harmful for our environment, farmers and the American public,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food futures campaigner, Friends of the Earth. “We call on Sessions to put the interests of the American people, workers and farmers above the interests of mega corporations and conduct an independent review process free of political interference.”
“These mergers will hurt honey bees and native pollinators by making it harder for farmers to secure diverse seeds that are not coated in bee-killing pesticides or engineered to withstand multiple doses of herbicide applications,” said Michele Colopy, program director, Pollinator Stewardship Council, a national group representing beekeepers and beekeeping organizations. “This merger makes it harder for farmers to gain access to the seeds they need to farm more sustainably. Seeds produced by a pesticide company may be engineered to cope with the pesticides, but honey bees cannot take increased pesticide exposure.”
“These mergers pose an ever greater threat to the health, livelihoods and human rights of farmworkers who are on the front lines of toxic agricultural chemical exposure,” said Jeannie Economos, Pesticide Safety and Environmental Health Project Coordinator, Farmworker Association of Florida. “These proposed mergers only puts more power and influence on the side of agribusiness, which contributes to but does nothing to pay for the health impacts on families of the chemicals they produce. People should not pay with their health and lives for the profits of these mega-corporations.”
"The concentrated corporate control of seed markets threatens farmers’ traditional practices of developing, saving and exchanging locally-adapted seed in the United States and around the world, practices that support the biological diversity and ecological resilience critical to addressing local and global food needs," said farmer Denise O'Brien, founder of Women's Food and Agriculture Network and Pesticide Action Network (PAN) North America board vice-president.
If all three deals were to close, the newly created companies would control nearly 70 percent of the world’s pesticide market, more than 61 percent of commercial seed sales and 80 percent of the U.S. corn-seed market.
“A Bayer AG-Monsanto company would control 70 percent of the Southeast cottonseed market, which would increase the price by over 18 percent. Soy and corn prices would also rise, putting farmers’ livelihoods at risk even more,” said Mississippi farmer Ben Burkett, National Family Farm Coalition president and Federation of Southern Cooperatives representative.
Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned Senator Sessions about his views on these mergers and his approach to anti-trust matters during his confirmation hearings. His answers were evasive and vague.
Groups expressed concern during the confirmation process that Senator Sessions would allow politics to interfere with the review of these mergers; especially given Donald Trump’s meeting with Bayer and Monsanto Executives in January and Trump’s appointment of Dow CEO Andrew Liveris to lead the American Manufacturers Council in December.
Despite few taste genes, honey bees seek out essential nutrients based on floral resources
February 9, 201
Despite having few taste genes, honey bees are fine-tuned to know what minerals the colony may lack and proactively seek out nutrients in conjunction with the season when their floral diet varies.
This key finding from a new study led by Tufts University scientists sheds light on limited research on the micronutrient requirements of honey bees, and provides potentially useful insight in support of increased health of the bee population, which has declined rapidly in recent years for a variety of complex reasons.
The research, published in Ecological Entomology, suggests that beekeepers should provide opportunities for their bees to access specific nutrients, possibly through a natural mineral lick, to support their balanced health because the bees will search for the minerals when they need them. It is also an opportunity for the general public to support the bee population by planting a diverse range of flowers that bloom throughout the year.
"Currently, there are micronutrient supplements for managed bee hives on the market but there is little research backing up which minerals the bees actually need," said Rachael Bonoan, the lead study author and a Ph.D. candidate in biology in the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts. "The fact that honey bees switch their mineral preferences based on what is available in their floral diet is really exciting. This means that somehow, honey bees know which nutrients the colony needs. This insight helps us support honey bees and other pollinators by providing access to diverse nutrient sources all year long."
The findings show that honey bees forage for essential minerals that aid their physiological health, even though they have relatively few taste genes. In the fall, when floral resources dwindle, the study showed that bees seek out specific nutrients - calcium, magnesium, and potassium, all commonly found in pollen - by foraging in compound-rich or "dirty" water. When flowers and pollen are abundant in the summer, the bees prefer deionized water and sodium, ultimately suggesting that bees are foraging for minerals in water based on what is lacking in their floral diet.
Bonoan and her research team studied eight honey bee hives that were located about 100 yards from the research area. The bees were trained to come to the research site because researchers placed jars of sugar water at staged intervals until the worker bees became accustomed to the ready food supply.
Researchers set up water vials with different minerals such as sodium, magnesium or phosphorus and catalogued the number of bees that visited each vial. At the end of the day, they also measured how much the bees drank from each vessel to determine which minerals were most in demand.
The researchers also tracked the hive each bee belonged to by dusting worker bees with different colored powders as they left the hives. The team noted which colored bees were drinking from which mineral-laden water source, and later measured the amount of brood to determine whether there is a connection between bee health and specific minerals.
The study results related to hive health were inconclusive. While stronger colonies do tend to visit more minerals than weaker colonies, it was difficult to determine which came first, being a stronger colony or accessing mineral resources. Additional data is necessary to assess colony fitness.
More information: RACHAEL E. BONOAN et al, Seasonality of salt foraging in honey bees, Ecological Entomology (2016). DOI: 10.1111/een.12375
Journal reference: Ecological Entomology
Provided by: Tufts University
Bees give up searching for food when we degrade their land
Jess Reid (UWA Media and Public Relations Adviser)
Wednesday, 8 February 2017
A new study into honey bees has revealed the significant effect human impact has on a bee’s metabolism, and ultimately its survival.
Researchers from The University of Western Australia in collaboration with Kings Park and Botanic Garden, Curtin University and CSIRO have completed a world-first study on insect metabolism in free flying insects, focusing on the honey bee. The study funded by an Australian Research Council linkage award has revealed the significant effect human impact on the environment had on bees, which are crucial for the planet, pollinating one-third of everything we eat.
Landscapes that have been degraded mean a reduction in the availability of resources which affects the metabolic rate of the honey bee and puts more strain on its body’s ability to function.
Emeritus Professor Don Bradshaw from UWA's School of Biological Sciences said the researchers wanted to find out how honey bees’ metabolism was impacted by human made changes to the environment such as clearing of land.
To do this they used a unique method to measure the energy expenditure of bees, originally developed by Professor Bradshaw and used in his research on honey possums. Through this method they were able to measure the metabolic rate of bees when they are in their natural environment, and compare pristine environments rich in resources to degraded environments.
“Before conducting the experiment we thought the bees would have a much higher metabolism in degraded areas because they would need to travel further in search of food," Professor Bradshaw said.
"Surprisingly we found the opposite. The metabolic rate of bees in natural woodland was actually significantly higher than in a degraded environment," Professor Bradshaw said.
"Rather than travel in search of food in degraded areas, the bees foraged less and depended on stored resources inside the hive."
"We were also able to measure their intake of nectar which showed that the bees in the degraded landscape were feeding less." The research has important implications for understanding environmental impacts on bees which will help preserve bee populations in the future and may offer insight into the way other insects’ metabolism works and how it affects their behaviour. This is the first time the metabolic rate and feeding rate of a free-flying insect has been measured in its natural environment and paves the way for future research on pollinators other than bees.
"Bees are vital for human beings, the environment and agriculture," Professor Bradshaw said.
"They pollinate one sixth of flowering plants world-wide and help to produce a third of what we eat, but unfortunately over the past few decades there has been a dramatic decline in global bee populations.
"Continual research in this area is vital in understanding their behaviour, how we as humans can impact their survival, and what we can do in the future to protect them."
The research has been published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society
The North American Beekeeping Conference Was a Huge Success!
The joint conference with American Honey Producers Association, American Beekeeping Federation, and Canadian Honey Council met in Galveston, Texas on January 10-14, 2016. The final counts are not in yet, but early estimates are that we had approximately 1300 people attending.
There were 104 exhibitors in the trade show, classes for beginner through advanced beekeepers, workshops, and many very informative speakers. Our special night out activity at the Moody Gardens included a dinner and a fun show with a professional country singer and trick roper. Our AHPA banquet was elegant and the auction was especially fun and competitive, bringing in a record of over $52,000! The 2017 Bee Charmer Award was given to Kelvin Adee, the award for 2017 Beekeeper of the Year was presented to Mark Brady and our 2017 Friend of the Industry Award was presented to Christi Heintz.
Our yearly General Assembly meeting, Executive Board meetings, and Board of Directors meetings were held at the conference also. Our new president, Kelvin Adee, and vice president, Chris Hiatt were elected, as well as Ryan Cosyns elected for another three year term as board member and Mark Jensen as a new board member. Our thanks to Darren Cox for his service as president for the last two years. A list of all officers and board members can be found on our website: http://www.ahpanet.com/page/OfficersExecBoard
Christi Heintz & Danielle Downey Randy Verhoek & Mark Brady
Cunniff/Beeline Honey BeehiveTheft
On January 17, 2017, our 488 honey bee hives, which were at a holding yard near Yuba City/Meridan, California, were stolen. These bees had been shipped to California to aid in the almond pollination and then were to return to Montana for summer honey production.
We are a third-generation, family commercial beekeeping business from a small community in Montana and this theft devastated us. We have struggled for the last several years with Colony Collapse Disease and our 1000 hives were reduced to these last 488 live colonies.
So, with the theft of our remaining hives (including the bees themselves as well as the equipment), the pollination, and the honey production, we anticipate losing over $400,000 in 2017. And, without this pollination income, we are unsure if we will be able to pay wages and fund the daily operations of the business for the rebuilding of the hives, which will take multiple years to fully recover.
Insurance coverage for the equipment is possible; however, there is no coverage for loss of income from pollination or honey production. And, the amount of help from insurance for equipment replacement is still unknown.
So, we find ourselves in a position where we are asking for your help to cover the costs of $100,000. All donations will be used to pay our employees and cover daily operation costs during this rebuilding year.
The LA Times reported on our loss in their January 20, 2017 edition. Here's a link to the article.
Thanks so much for your support which will help us recover from this loss. We are hopeful and confident that, with your help, we can rebuild.
Lloyd Cunniff/Beeline Honey Company
Protecting Honey Bees During Bloom
Posted on January 24, 2017
Written by Emily J. Symmes, UCCE Sacramento Valley IPM Advisor
With almond bloom on the horizon, it is time to revisit best management practices for protecting pollinators (e.g. honey bees) during this critical time. Remember that communication is key during the bloom period. All parties should be kept informed so that beekeepers are aware of impending applications and applicators are aware of the requirements related to notification, materials, timing, location, and method of application. This includes growers, beekeepers, land owners-lessees, PCAs/CCAs, pesticide applicators, and county Agricultural Commissioners.
- Employ sound IPM practices:
- Always provide adequate clean water for bees:
- Do not spray hives directly with any pesticide. Ensure the spray-rig driver turns off nozzles when near hives.
- Do not spray flying bees with any applications. Aside from toxicity concerns, bees will not be able to fly because of the weight of spray droplets on their wings. Even water can impact their flight ability (and will also cause pollen grains to burst affecting pollination).
- Avoid pesticide application or drift onto blooming weeds in or adjacent to the orchard.
- Avoid applying systemic pesticides or those with extended residual toxicities pre-bloom.
- Agree on proper hive removal timing:
- After removal of bees from an orchard, communication with neighbors remains important since other bees may still be foraging in the area.
- Do not apply insecticides during bloom. Much of the information and labeling related to honey bee toxicity is based on acute toxicity of foraging adults. In recent years, more research has indicated adverse effects of pesticides on developing brood, so even materials with “softer” reputations toward honey bees should be avoided.
- Rely on other effective timing options (delayed dormant, post-bloom, in-season) for pest management. UCIPM Pest Management Guidelines for almonds provide monitoring information and insecticide and treatment timing options:
- Avoid tank mixes with insecticides, adjuvants, other fungicides. Increasing evidence shows that synergistic effects among materials can be more detrimental to both adult bees and the developing brood than applications of individual materials.
- Know the impacts of particular fungicides on honey bees and choose materials accordingly.
- The University of California IPM Program has published a new online resource, “Bee Precaution Pesticide Ratings.” ucanr.edu/beeprecaution/
- Apply fungicides in the late afternoon or evening when bees and pollen are not present. Each morning new flowers and anthers open to release pollen. Pollen-collecting bees often collect all of this pollen and leave the almond blossoms by mid-afternoon. Pollen that will be collected the next day is still protected inside closed flowers or anthers, which will not open until morning. It is important to ensure that fungicides have time to dry before new flowers open, anthers shed pollen, and bees begin foraging the following day.
If you suspect pesticide-related damage to honey bees, immediately report this to your county agricultural commissioner. Preserving some adult bees, brood, pollen, honey, nectar, and/or wax by immediately collecting and freezing in clean, labeled containers may be helpful for follow-up on the incident. Signs to look for:
- Excessive numbers of dead or dying adult honey bees in front of hives
- Dead newly-emerged workers or brood (developing larvae) at the hive entrance
- Lack of foraging bees on a normally attractive blooming crop
- Adult bees exhibiting stupefaction (dazed, unconscious, etc.); paralysis; jerky, wobbly, or rapid movements; spinning on the back
- Disorientation and reduced efficiency of foraging bees
- Immobile or lethargic bees unable to leave flowers
- Bees unable to fly and crawling slowly as if chilled
- Queenless hives
Major research development to help honey bees
Wisconsin State Farmer 2:12 a.m. CT Jan. 28, 2017
St. Louis — A new honey bee testing service announced this week will allow beekeepers to more effectively identify and address diseases plaguing bee colonies, according to the National Agricultural Genotyping Center (NAGC).
NAGC conducted the research and developed the testing panel with the support of the National Corn Growers Association and the North Dakota Department of Agriculture. The testing service called “Bee Care” will launch in February 2017.
“It’s the first time we have a panel of the most common honey bee diseases in North America all in one test,” said Pete Snyder, president and CEO of the NAGC. “So we can diagnose problems, get results in 30 days and allow beekeepers to pursue the right treatment.”
NAGC has begun contacting beekeeper groups nationwide with information on the BeeCare testing service and how to submit samples for testing.
“Supporting this research work at the NAGC is just part of Corn Growers overall effort to assure healthy bee populations. BeeCare is an important tool that will allow beekeepers to evaluate and address health issues in a timely manner,” said Carson Klosterman, a farmer from Wyndmere, North Dakota and member of NCGA’s Stewardship Action Team. “We are also actively engaged in the Honey Bee Health Coalition (HBHC) which has the goal of reversing recent declines in honey bee health and ensuring the long-term health of honey bees and other pollinators.”
HBHC, comprised of beekeepers, researchers, government agencies, agribusinesses, growers, conservation groups, manufacturers and consumer brands, seeks to improve and sustain honey bee health at all levels of beekeeping, identifying and implementing novel and proven solutions to major honey bee health challenges, enhancing effective communications, and collaboration among diverse private and public sector stakeholders with interests related to beekeeping, pollination, and agriculture production.
“American agriculture relies upon healthy pollinators. Recent problems like Colony Collapse Disorder are very complex and have a multitude of possible causes. Unfortunately, some groups are quick to blame row crop farmers and immediately attack crop protection products,” Snyder said
The BeeCare disease panel has been validated through test samples from Central North Dakota and Eastern Missouri. It includes testing for: Acute Bee Paralysis Virus, Black Queen Cell Virus, Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus, Deformed Wing Virus, Israeli Acute Bee Paralysis Virus, Kashmir Bee Virus, Lake Sinai Virus #1, Lake Sinai Virus #2, Slow Bee Paralysis Virus, American Foulbrood Bacteria, and European Foulbrood Bacteria.
New research debunks honey bee pesticide study
January 23, 2017
A study by a global agrochemical company that concluded there was only a low risk to honey bees from a widely used agricultural pesticide has been described as "misleading" in new research published by statisticians at the University of St Andrews.
Pesticides called neonicotinoids or neonics may be implicated in losses of honey bees and other pollinators. The economic value of honey bees and bumble bees on the pollination of commercially grown crops has been estimated at over £200 million a year in the UK alone.
A major study conducted by Swiss agrochemical company Syngenta on the effects of the neonic thiamethoxam on honey bees in the field concluded that there was only a low risk to honey bees.
New research conducted at the Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling (CREEM) by Dr Robert Schick, Professor Jeremy Greenwood and Professor Steve Buckland shows even large and important effects could have been missed because the Syngenta study was statistically too small.
Their findings are published today in the international journal Environmental Sciences Europe.
The Syngenta study involved two experiments: an oilseed rape experiment conducted at two locations and a maize experiment at three locations. At each location the experiments used pairs of fields – in one field the crop was treated with thiamethoxam at levels normally used by farmers, in the other field the crop was untreated.
The Syngenta study concluded that because the experiments involved so little replication (two cases for oilseed rape and three for maize) a formal analysis of the data "would lack the power to detect anything other than very large treatment effects, and it is clear from a simple inspection of the results that no large treatment effects were present. Therefore a formal statistical analysis was not conducted because this would be potentially misleading".
The St Andrews team believe this is fundamentally wrong because formal statistical analysis is only potentially misleading if the wrong method is used and because the mere inspection of the results is always potentially misleading because it is an entirely subjective procedure.
Professor Greenwood said: "In order to reach valid conclusions about the results of an experiment such as this, one needs not just to estimate the effect of the treatment but also to measure the precision of the estimate. That is what we have done, using standard statistical techniques.
"What we found was that the estimates of the treatment effects were so imprecise that one could not tell whether the effects were either too small to pose a problem or, in contrast, so large as to be of serious concern.
"In effect, the experiments were on such a small scale that little useful could be concluded from them."
Honey Bee Scientist Position at ARS-Poplarville
Agricultural Research Service
1 vacancy - Poplarville, MS
Work Schedule is Full-Time - Permanent
Closes Thursday 1/19/2017
Salary Range $71,012.00 to $92,316.00 / Per Year
Who May Apply: US Citizens and Nationals; no prior Federal experience is required.
Find Solutions to Agricultural Problems that Affect Americans Every Day, From Field to Table.
The mission of the Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory (TCSHL) located in Poplarville, Mississippi, is the development of cultural practices, pest management strategies, and cultivars that improve small fruit, vegetable, and ornamental plant production in the Gulf coast States.
Vacant research positions may be filled at one of several grade levels depending upon the scientific impact of the person selected. For this reason, you are encouraged to apply at all grade levels in the announcement, if multiple grades. A peer review will be required for selections made at grades GS-13 and above and the selectee will be required to submit supplemental materials.
Research scientists have open-ended promotion potential. Research accomplishments and their impact on the duties and responsibilities of positions are evaluated periodically. The grade level is limited only by the individual's demonstrated ability to perform research of recognized importance to science and technology. *Final grade level may be determined by a peer review panel.
Full description and how to apply: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/461173300/#btn-add-info