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AMS Continues Successful Relationship with Local School

As part of a flourishing partnership, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) recently hosted students from Columbia Heights Educational Campus (CHEC) in Washington, D.C., for what proved to be an action-packed shadowing day at USDA Headquarters.

From this local high school to the most remote rural areas, AMS is answering Secretary Tom Vilsack’s call to develop a diverse workforce by teaching students about careers in agriculture.

During their visit, the college-bound high school students were introduced to available academic and career opportunities within the department and the agency.  They were given a warm welcome from AMS Deputy Administrator for Compliance and Analysis, Ellen King.  Throughout the day students met with several high-ranking USDA representatives, including Under Secretary Ed Avalos and Deputy Under Secretary John Ferrell from the department’s Marketing and Regulatory Programs mission area.

Many AMS employees took time out of their busy schedules to tell the students how their office helps the USDA make a difference in the lives of people every day. Individual students were also paired with AMS employees for a more personal glimpse of daily work at the USDA.  From information technology to food product testing, there was much to learn from employees representing an agency that offers an array of career opportunities.

As a testament to the department’s commitment to healthy eating, nutrition was also on the agenda.  Senior Advisor to the Secretary Anne MacMillan discussed USDA’s role in supporting First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to end childhood obesity. Alicia White, a nutritionist with the Food and Nutrition Service, encouraged everyone to be creative and find ways to develop healthy recipes for their school lunch program. Students also met with Associate Administrator of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Kevin Shea.

This interaction with students from CHEC was not the first for AMS.  Earlier in the year, Administrator Rayne Pegg and other employees traveled to the school to participate in evaluating senior portfolio projects.  One of Pegg’s priorities for the agency is to connect with our local communities and especially local youth.  After viewing many of the projects, it was clear that the students are very talented and could be USDA employees one day.

Currently, plans are being made to help the students develop their own People’s Garden on the school’s campus.  There will also be a CHEC Career Day on Thursday, May 19, 2011, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  For more information about this event, please contact

AMS strives to foster a relationship with the communities that it serves; this partnership with CHEC exemplifies the agency’s commitment to this goal.  More importantly, the agency hopes to make an impact in the lives of these students — one that they will never forget.

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