Several Rural Development funded project sites in were visited by officials from Washington, D.C. in Texas recently to highlighted USDA’s commitment to strengthening rural communities.
A delegation featuring Deputy Under Secretary Cheryl Cook visited a USDA Rural Development funded facility and attend the Texas FFA state convention in Corpus Christi. On the first stop of her whirlwind tour Cook was accompanied by Programs Director Michael Canales and Area Director Jake Sheeran to present the City of Robstown with funds for a Community Facility loan that will be used to build a new 17,000 square foot, one-stop city hall.
The next stop for the group was the Riviera Independent School District, where they announced funding for an upgraded computer system and broadband access. Ms Cook also spoke about the many broadband initiatives the administration is putting into place.
“Today’s announcement represents the Obama Administration’s commitment to assisting rural areas,” Cook said. “This funding will be used to increase educational opportunities for students, who will be better equipped to contribute to business and economic opportunities within rural America.”
The $179,754 grant will be used to connect almost 500 students in Kleberg County to a regional education network operated out of the Education Service Center in Corpus Christi. With this new technology, the curriculum will now include the ability for students to attend virtual college and conduct virtual interviews. The students will also be able to connect to people in other countries and take virtual tours of locations that the majority of students have never visited. The opportunity for global learning will now exist for students of this small rural school in Riviera, TX.
The next morning, the Deputy Under Secretary, accompanied by Texas State Rural Development Director, Paco Valentin, joined FFA members for an early morning breakfast and group discussion before the kickoff of their state convention in Corpus Christi. Cook and Valentin attended the convention and spoke with FFA members about their accomplishments, future goals for the FFA and how the two organizations could work together for the betterment of farmers across the country.
Finally, on the last stop of the tour, Cook and Valentin, along with Rural Development Texas Program Director, Daniel Torres and Area Director Jake Sheeran, met with Sam Kane CEO, Jerry Kane, and others, to tour the Sam Kane Beef Processing Plant. Wearing stylish knee-high boots, hair nets, lab coats and hard hats, the group toured part of the facility and received information about the daily operations of the plant. USDA Rural Development had provided a loan guarantee which allowed the Sam Kane plant to upgrade its facilities and equipment and retain their current employees.