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USDA education grant opens door to agriculture career opportunities

Former Montana State University student Ashley Williams meets with residents of Sanambele, Mali, to discuss water quality issues affecting the community.

Former Montana State University student Ashley Williams meets with residents of Sanambele, Mali, to discuss water quality issues affecting the community.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio. 

In 2004, as a junior at Montana State University (MSU), Ashley Williams knew she wanted to use her geography degree to make a difference internationally. She had no idea that agriculture would ever play a role in making that dream come true.

But that’s what happened when Williams found herself in a small farming village of 1,000 people in Sanambele, Mali, after a chance encounter with MSU entomology professor Florence Dunkel. Read more »

Secretary Calls on University Community to Encourage Employees to Serve as Agricultural Experts in Afghanistan and Iraq

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack hosted a conference call with leaders from more than 70 of the country’s land-grant institutions on Thursday afternoon, Aug. 14, to request assistance in helping to rebuild the agricultural economies of Afghanistan and Iraq. The Secretary asked all of those on the line to “reach out to your respective university communities – the academic side, the research side and the extension side,” to encourage experienced and eligible employees to apply to serve as Agriculture Experts with USDA in Afghanistan and Iraq. Read more »

New Mexico Broadband & Smart Grid Summit Working to Overcome Digital Divide and Harness Broadband Technologies

Earlier today at the New Mexico Broadband and Smart Grid Summit in Moriarty, I had the opportunity to tell policymakers, issue experts and industry leaders about Rural Utilities programs (RUS) that are contributing to creating economic opportunity and increasing energy independence through broadband and smart grid deployment.  

Others speaking at the event included: National Telecommunications and Information Administration Deputy Administrator Anna Gomez, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, and Federal Smart Grid Task Force Director Eric Lightner.   Together and with participants at the event, we opened a dialogue to help inform on future policy decisions regarding these important issues and the challenges we face in meeting them. Read more »

A Blue Ribbon in the Fight to Feed the Hungry

2010 Wisconsin State Fair – The WI Maple Syrup producers booth, in the WI Products Pavilion - Kevin Concannonm, USDA - Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, Brad Pfaff, USDA, Wisconsin , State Executive Director for the Farm Service Agency, Randy Romanski, Deputy Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and Perry Brown, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection

2010 Wisconsin State Fair – The WI Maple Syrup producers booth, in the WI Products Pavilion - Kevin Concannonm, USDA - Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, Brad Pfaff, USDA, Wisconsin , State Executive Director for the Farm Service Agency, Randy Romanski, Deputy Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and Perry Brown, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection

August 5th marked the opening of the Wisconsin State Fair, an event that brings in over 800,000 visitors, and perhaps more impressively, donates 180,000 pounds of food to the Hunger Task Force, a community supported organization that has fed hungry Milwaukeeans for over thirty years.

I had the pleasure of attending the opening ceremonies to celebrate Hunger Task Force Day alongside Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle. After the ceremonies, I enjoyed a tour of the fairgrounds with Farm Service Agency State Director Brad Pfaff, where we saw educational exhibits, cooking demonstrations using healthy foods you can buy on a budget, and vast displays of Wisconsin agriculture. Everywhere we turned, the fair was abuzz with hunger and nutrition education. Read more »

Illinois Feds Feed Families

USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Callahan presents food (on cart, foreground) donated by the state office in Champaign, Ill., to staff at Eastern Illinois Foodbank:  (from left) Cheryl Precious, director of marketing and development; Jim Hires, executive director; State Director  Callahan  and Matt Pieper, transportation supervisor.

USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Callahan presents food (on cart, foreground) donated by the state office in Champaign, Ill., to staff at Eastern Illinois Foodbank: (from left) Cheryl Precious, director of marketing and development; Jim Hires, executive director; State Director Callahan and Matt Pieper, transportation supervisor.

Would you leave corporate America to work for a non-profit?  Jim Hires did when he became the Executive Director of the Eastern Illinois Foodbank.  How did I meet him?  We met when I accompanied Illinois Rural Development State Director Colleen Callahan to drop off the state office’s donation to the food bank.  And why were we there?  To support the Feds, Farmers and Friends Feed Families food drive, of course! Read more »

A Taste of the States with our Neighbors to the North

Secretary Vilsack talks with U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson and Chef Dino Ovcaric about the U.S. foods featured during the tasteUS! culinary showcase in Ottawa.

Secretary Vilsack talks with U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson and Chef Dino Ovcaric about the U.S. foods featured during the tasteUS! culinary showcase in Ottawa.

This week, I traveled to Ottawa to meet with Canadian trade group leaders as well as Gerry Ritz, the minister of agriculture in Canada. As part of these meetings, we discussed agricultural trade issues that both of our countries face and opportunities for collaboration. In between meetings, I had the opportunity to participate in the tasteUS! Culinary Showcase. This event took place at Ambassador Jacobson’s residence and guests included Canadian media, buyers from Canadian grocery chains and food establishments, and U.S. cooperator representatives in Canada. Read more »