July is a busy month for most…bringing with it Independence Day; declared National Picnic, Ice Cream, Hot Dog, and Blueberry Month; as well as the continuation of the agency’s summer Feds Feed Families Food Drive and the very first Rural Development Cultural Transformation Day.
To observe the many facets of July, the USDA Rural Development State Office Staff in South Dakota hosted a picnic on Thursday, July 12. Admission was a donation of 10 pounds of non perishable food as the “ticket” for the summer picnic. Staff were also asked to bring a unique recipe that depicted their heritage/culture and/or a favorite family recipe. A Cultural Transformation recipe sharing site will be created on SharePoint for all employees to access. Participants feasted on chicken, salads, strawberry shortcake and iced tea. The food was provided through the volunteer members of the Rural Development Coffee Fund. The state office staff collected 300 pounds through the noon luncheon.
The United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development partnered with sister agencies Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency, along with the Office of Personnel Management to participate in the Feds, Feed Families Food Drive for all federal employees. This food drive will benefit local food banks identified by state and area/local USDA offices. With the times being economically stressed and winter just around the corner, the food drive is being conducted during a period of high need.
State Director Elsie Meeks encouraged area and field offices to think outside the box and engage staff in celebrating our differences. Across the state, the USDA Rapid City service center parking lot had the cleanest cars and trucks after the first annual car wash and BBQ celebrating Cultural Transformation Day (CTD). Rural Development staff came up with the idea that would bring camaraderie amongst the agencies, be a fun yet productive idea, and something that would not be a typical day at the office. All employees in the service center were offered the opportunity to pull the car up to the washing station and then enjoy a full dinner including brats and homemade treats/deserts. The fascinating part of the day was that seven employees, from Rural Development, the Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service spent their personal time (noon hour) washing cars and many additional employees preparing the food for the picnic. Take away for the day – working together gets things done faster and makes the activities more fun for all participants.