This year marks the 40th anniversary of the passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 addressing gender equity in educational programming. For the first time, this groundbreaking legislation mandated equal opportunity for women in all fields of federally funded public education. The passage of Title IX changed the American education system in ways unimaginable just decades earlier.
The Wisconsin USDA Interagency Conference, hosted by the Federal Women’s Program (FWP), is also celebrating its 40th year of existence.
The USDA Interagency Conference is held annually during the month of March. The conference often takes on a theme, but always has the primary goal of providing training in the areas of career advancement, communication enhancement, service improvement, and interpersonal skills enrichment. By bringing together employees from the various agencies, it creates an opportunity for networking.
This year, the one-day conference took place in Wausau, Wis., with more than 115 attendees from around the State.
Pat Leavenworth, State Conservationist for Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the 2012 conference lead agency, opened the conference highlighting the 40th Anniversary of Title IX of the Education Amendments. She also shared with attendees her own experience as a student at Mount Holyoke College. The college was the first women’s college to provide educational opportunities to women equal to the opportunities available to men. Mount Holyoke College was model for a multitude of other women’s colleges throughout the country after the passage of the new legislation.
The day’s keynote speaker was a fellow USDA employee, NRCS Engineer Caroline Clarin, who shared her experiences while living and working in a war zone. Clarin spent 24 months as an Agricultural Advisor on a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Paktika Province, Afghanistan. Clarin worked to support dedicated Afghans to provide training and extension services at the district centers. Over a 14-month period, the team trained several thousand farmers in subsistence farming techniques, mentored the local sub-governors, and worked with elders’ shuras to connect the communities to the local government through small irrigation infrastructure projects. The work had a positive impact on the security in the province. Clarin received multiple awards for her service in Afghanistan, including a Commander’s Award for Civilian Service, a Superior Civilian Service award from the Department of Defense, a Meritorious Honor Award, and a Superior Honor Award from the US Department of State.
“We support this event because it makes a positive impact on the culture of the federal workplace,” said Stan Gruszynski, USDA Rural Development state director. “The contribution that each of you and your counterparts make everyday not only ensures that we meet our missions, it also completes the contract and guarantees the trust citizens place with their government. A unique privilege of a democratic system of government is the service of citizens by citizens.”