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USDA employees volunteer for healthier communities

The Obama administration has called on Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life to work to improve their communities as part of the United We Serve project. Here at USDA, many of our more than 100,000 employees are doing their part. They are driven to serve, and proud to identify ways to use their skills to support their own communities.

Here’s some work two USDA employees are doing to improve the health of their communities:

One of the children served by Mike and his family rides a horse in Virginia

Horseback riding for people with special needs — Mike (Annandale, VA)

Mike and his family have long been involved with the equestrian sport of vaulting (gymnastics on horseback). Over the past year they have hosted a regular outing for special needs children and adults from their church, giving each an opportunity to ride a horse and to learn the freedom of movement and confidence the experience brings. Nothing can compare with the sheer pleasure of seeing these individuals, often initially nervous and scared, beaming as they ride triumphantly…and often for the first time in their lives. Perhaps the most meaningful experience was last October when, during local pony rides Mike was helping with, he saw a mother with an infant whose many tubes and blank stare evidenced the severity of his condition. He asked the mother if her baby wanted a chance to ride and he was soon up on a horse in the secure arms of an experienced rider. After a 5-minute ride his mother thanked Mike and later told him that her baby was normally mostly uncommunicative, but that after riding he seemed to be alert and aware for days!

The Relay for Life Fundraiser in Steele, North Dakota, coordinated by a local USDA employee

Raising money for a cure — Nancy (Steele, ND)

Nancy coordinated the local USDA Service Center’s team for the American Cancer Society’s “Relay for Life” fundraiser in Steele, North Dakota. They named their group “Team USDA” and over a few short months raised over $4000. “Team USDA” was the top fundraising team from within the 23 teams that participated. Some of the ways they raised funds were by serving dinners for local events, selling sweets and treats, and family and friends making donations. The 23 teams for this event raised over $40,000. It was a great success and they plan to participate again next year.