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Secretary Vilsack Honors USDA Employees for Service in Iraq and Afghanistan

Patrick Broyles, a U.S. Department of Agriculture employee, cleans a locally grown potato Dec. 18, 2008, during a visit to a new irrigation project in Muehlah, Iraq. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Wendy Wyman/Released)

Patrick Broyles, a U.S. Department of Agriculture employee, cleans a locally grown potato Dec. 18, 2008, during a visit to a new irrigation project in Muehlah, Iraq. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Wendy Wyman/Released)

Since 2003, more than 200 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) employees have sacrificed months – sometimes years – away from loved ones to live and work in war zones, voluntarily lending their skills and knowledge toward the betterment of people halfway around the world.

On Monday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack honored nearly 70 of these men and women, all of whom have returned from serving as agricultural experts in Iraq or Afghanistan in the past year. These employees hail from across the United States and represent several different USDA offices and agencies. In their roles as agricultural advisors, they have worked side-by-side with everyone from top officials with Iraq and Afghanistan’s ministries of agriculture to the U.S. military, from farmers, ranchers and students to widows and children.

USDA’s mission is helping bring about stability and economic viability by improving each country’s agricultural sector and improving the capacity of their agricultural ministries.  In order to achieve this, agricultural experts in Afghanistan and Iraq have contributed to a wide range of projects, including improving food and animal production and marketing systems, introducing new veterinary practices, improving soil and water conservation, assisting with reforestation, expanding agricultural education and more. Agricultural advisors are an important part of the approach to help bring about stability, peace and success to these countries.

To all of the men and women who have returned – and to the more than 60 employees still contributing to USDA’s efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan – we offer our most sincere gratitude for your hard work, dedication, service and sacrifice.

To see who was recognized during this year’s ceremony, please see the list below. Visit the FAS Web pages about Iraq and Afghanistan for more information and to learn how to get involved in USDA’s efforts.

Individuals Recognized for Service in Afghanistan

Jaime Adams, Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)
Jim Butler, FAS
Caroline Clarin, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
Jim Conley, FAS
James Cullman, FAS
Gary Domian, NRCS
Kelan R. Evans, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
Feridoon Mehdizadegan, APHIS
Richard Fite, APHIS
Anthony Gilbert, FAS
Wes Harris, FAS
Gary Hart, APHIS
Paul Heidloff, FAS
Ron Hemmer, FAS
James Hoffman, Forest Service (FS)
Paul Kanninen, APHIS
Richard Kell, FS
Dan Kugler, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
Richard Lasko, FS
Dane Marley
James McCord, APHIS
Rod McSherry, FAS
Anthony Miller, FS
Robert Moore, FAS
David Mull, Rural Development (RD)
Donna Mull, RD
Arnold Norman, NRCS
William O’Donnell, NRCS
Morgan Perkins, FAS
Darren Richardson, USDA
Fred Salinas, FS
Wilmer Snell, APHIS
Gary Tietz, Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)
John Van Horn, FAS
Thomas Vermeersch, FSIS
Mike Ward, FAS
Neal Westgerdes, FSIS
Iraj Motazedian, FAS
William Rhodes, FAS
Richard Whitten, FSIS

Individuals Recognized for Service in Iraq

Faris Al Assadi, FAS
Rodrigo Brenes, FAS
Patrick Broyles, FAS
Sainey Ceesay, APHIS
Sean Currans, FAS
Lance Daugherty, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)
Wendy Flatt, FAS
Art Gaffrey, FS
Robert Glasgow, FS
James Helm, NRCS
Mary Kerstetter, NRCS
Tim Lowery, FAS
Jessica McCoy, FAS
Alex Miller, FAS
George Melton, FAS
Thomas Pick, NRCS
John Schnittker, USDA
Omar Shwani, FAS
Bob Smith, FAS
George Stickels, Farm Service Agency (FSA)
William Tierney, FAS
James Vancura, NRCS
Ron Verdonk, FAS
Marcus Wayne, FAS
Thaddeus White, FAS
Russell Williams, FAS
Franklin Johnson, FAS
Eric Dolbeare, FAS
Justin Whitmore, FAS
David Nisbet, Agricultural Research Service (ARS)

USDA at work In Iraq and Afghanistan

Ryan Brewster served as an agricultural expert in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ryan Brewster served as an agricultural expert in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

U.S. Department of Agriculture representative Dr. Eric Grant, and a Afghan, livestock specialist, Mahamed Nasor examine new greenhouses in Qarghayee District, at Laghman province, Afghanistan, Jan. 27, 2010. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Victor Egorov/Released)

U.S. Department of Agriculture representative Dr. Eric Grant, and a Afghan, livestock specialist, Mahamed Nasor examine new greenhouses in Qarghayee District, at Laghman province, Afghanistan, Jan. 27, 2010. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Victor Egorov/Released)

NRCS employee Jeff Sanders meets with a village elder of the Deh Yahke in Uruzgan Province in Afghanistan.

NRCS employee Jeff Sanders meets with a village elder of the Deh Yahke in Uruzgan Province in Afghanistan.

Ed Tallyn, left, and Bruce Dubee, members of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Konar Provincial Reconstruction Team, collect soil samples in Marawara, Afghanistan, Jan. 12, 2009. The samples are sent to the United States to be added to a global database documenting soil types around the world. (U.S. Navy photo by U.S. Navy Lt. j.g. James Dietle/Released)

Ed Tallyn, left, and Bruce Dubee, members of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Konar Provincial Reconstruction Team, collect soil samples in Marawara, Afghanistan, Jan. 12, 2009. The samples are sent to the United States to be added to a global database documenting soil types around the world. (U.S. Navy photo by U.S. Navy Lt. j.g. James Dietle/Released)

A group of Iraqi women work with vegetables during a Food Preservation Project course offered in Baghdad. Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) agricultural advisor Thaddeus White and the Baghdad Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) he was assigned to worked with local non-governmental organizations to offer the course to widows and women in need. Photo credit: Thad White

A group of Iraqi women work with vegetables during a Food Preservation Project course offered in Baghdad. Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) agricultural advisor Thaddeus White and the Baghdad Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) he was assigned to worked with local non-governmental organizations to offer the course to widows and women in need. Photo credit: Thad White

Maggie Rhodes, pictured in Afghanistan, has been a USDA agricultural advisor there since December 2009.”

Maggie Rhodes, pictured in Afghanistan, has been a USDA agricultural advisor there since December 2009.”

Jim Dehart, left, an advisor from the U.S. Department of State, Jim Hoffman, right, an agricultural adviser from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and members of the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team meet with Afghan locals on a hill top in the Anaba District of Panjshir Province, Afghanistan on Jan. 02, 2010.  PRT members were surveying a possible location for a water reservoir. One of the problems within the Panjshir Province is the lack of potable water. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Teddy Wade/Released)

Jim Dehart, left, an advisor from the U.S. Department of State, Jim Hoffman, right, an agricultural adviser from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and members of the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team meet with Afghan locals on a hill top in the Anaba District of Panjshir Province, Afghanistan on Jan. 02, 2010. PRT members were surveying a possible location for a water reservoir. One of the problems within the Panjshir Province is the lack of potable water. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Teddy Wade/Released)

One Response to “Secretary Vilsack Honors USDA Employees for Service in Iraq and Afghanistan”

  1. David Speidel says:

    Great Work!

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