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Oregon School Children, USDA “Energize” Earth Day

At the USDA Earth Day outdoor classroom in Boardman, Oregon, last month,  USDA program technician Renee Robinson tests the children on what they’ve learned about saving energy at home. USDA photo.

At the USDA Earth Day outdoor classroom in Boardman, Oregon, last month, USDA program technician Renee Robinson tests the children on what they’ve learned about saving energy at home. USDA photo.

Last month, USDA Rural Development employees and several partner organizations donated their Saturday to celebrate Earth Day with elementary and middle school-aged children at the Castle Rock farm worker housing complex in Boardman, Oregon.

Volunteers from Energy Trust of Oregon, CASA of Oregon, Sustainable Agriculture and Energy (SAGE) Center, Wind Turbine Industries Corporation, and Kardon Construction joined USDA to lead a variety of interactive educational activities about energy conservation and renewable energy alternatives.

“This event was a chance for USDA to join our community-based partners and residents by celebrating environmentally friendly growth and development in rural areas,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker, who joined in the activities.

USDA Rural Development provided a $2.4 million loan to the Umatilla County Housing Authority for the construction of Castle Rock Apartments, which opened in September of 2012 to provide additional rental options for the many farm and food processing workers who previously needed to commute long distances between their jobs and adequate, affordable housing.  The facility was constructed to meet Earth Advantage Gold and LEED Platinum standards, featuring added insulation to reduce heating and cooling costs, Energy Star appliances, low-flow faucets and toilets and solar panels.

USDA Rural Development delivers more than 40 programs that help rural communities, businesses and residents develop infrastructure, improve housing availability, and create jobs through a variety of economic development activities.

“In all of our work, whether it’s a new hospital, school, or a business development, USDA strives to incorporate earth-friendly designs and innovative energy solutions,” Walker said.

In addition to support for rural housing and community facilities, USDA Rural Development also provides grants and loan guarantees to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses save energy and install renewables to save money while reducing their overall carbon footprint. Last fiscal year, USDA Rural Development supported the installation of more than 1,600 renewable energy facilities, including wind turbines, small hydropower generators, geothermal systems, solar arrays, and anaerobic digesters across the country.

To learn more about USDA energy programs click here.

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