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Ninety one-Year-Old Kansas Woman Receives Assistance from Rural Development to Repair her Home

Submitted by Jessica Bowser, USDA Kansas Public Information Coordinator

What makes a house a home?  That answer can vary, depending on who you ask, but to one Kansan it’s much more than the furnishings or the structure that makes her house a home.

Sarah Heckel of Hiawatha, Kansas, has lived in her home for 25 years.  Heckel and her husband moved to Hiawatha from South Dakota to be closer to her family.  Shortly after they moved to Kansas, Heckel’s mother passed away. Heckel and her husband moved into her mother’s house, where she still lives today.  The house has remained in the family for more than 55 years. Read more »

USDA Announces Streamlining of Program to Improve Water Quality in Alaska Rural Villages

Yesterday, USDA Rural Development in the State of Alaska hosted the official signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Rural Alaska Village grant (RAVG) program partners.  The MOU partners, which include the State of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (SOA DEC), Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC), and the Indian Health Service (IHS), are essential in the continued effort to bring safe water and waste systems to rural Alaskan communities. Read more »

Let’s Move! Across Missouri

Anyone can be healthy “if you eat right and try to get moving,” said a young participant in Move Across Missouri, a program developed in partnership with University of Missouri Extension 4-H and the Missouri Beef Industry Council. Move Across Missouri encourages 4-Hers to increase their physical activity and track the time they spend moving through the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA), which challenges kids to log 60 minutes of physical activity for five days out of the week for six out of eight weeks. Read more »

In Arizona, Rural Development Housing Programs Provide a Stable Environment for Families

The parents were leery about another rental, fearing having to move yet again. Rather serendipitously, the mother saw information on line about USDA Rural Development housing programs. She made a call that changed their lives. As it turned out, the house that they eventually found and qualified for was part of a “green home” renovation in conjunction with other local agencies. The family was able to purchase their home with a loan direct from Rural Development, give their four children a stable home and neighborhood, and the home itself has proven to be so efficient that they are saving monthly on their utility bills.

The family received homebuyer education classes and credit counseling as part of the programs they participated in. The mother said “We are lucky to have found out about you! We have nothing but high praise for the process. Thank you for your dedication to helping families like ours purchase a home.” Read more »

APHIS Administrator Dr. Gregory Parham, a Second Generation Veterinarian, Reflects on World Veterinary Year 2011

I’m Dr. Gregory Parham and I’m the Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).  As a proud member of the veterinary profession, I’m happy to share with you that 2011 has been declared World Veterinary Year in honor of the 250th anniversary of the founding of the first official school of veterinary medicine.

The veterinary profession is one I have been close to for decades.  In fact, my father served as a veterinarian for APHIS.  During his career, he worked in the field, assisted in disease eradication efforts, and even worked internationally.  Seeing what he did every day was a strong influence on me.  I learned early in life that becoming a veterinarian could be an interesting career.  I followed through with my goal of studying veterinary medicine and have determined that I was right.  Being a veterinarian is most certainly an interesting and fulfilling career, one that has exposed me to all sorts of experiences and opportunities. Read more »

Administrator Judith Canales Speaks To Graduating Class of Texas A&M International University

As Administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture- Rural Development’s Business and Cooperative Programs, I travel throughout the country, promoting the President’s and Secretary’s vision of revitalizing rural America.  Of the many talks that I have given this year, one of the most exciting and memorable moments for me occurred on Saturday, May 14, 2011, when I had the honor and privilege of giving two commencement speeches to graduating classes totaling 500 students at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) in Laredo, Texas.

As a native of south Texas, you can imagine how excited I was to have this opportunity to share my educational roots and professional experiences with these inspiring new graduates.  Many of these students are the first in their families to graduate from college; therefore, the experience was not only a major accomplishment for the graduates but a monumental achievement for their families who were present at this event.  So, as I shook the hands of each of the graduates as they came up on stage to receive their diplomas, I couldn’t help but think to myself how very proud I was of these students and their families. Read more »