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Category: Education

Women are the Past, Present and Future of American Agriculture

Cross posted from the White House Rural Council blog:

From historic homesteaders to contemporary cattle ranchers, women have been the cornerstone of America’s agriculture heritage. We’ve produced food to feed our families, feed our neighbors and to feed the world.

The 2012 Census of Agriculture notes that nearly one million women are working America’s lands. That’s nearly a third of our nation’s farmers.  These women are generating $12.9 billion in annual agricultural sales.

Farm work isn’t the only way women are contributing to agriculture.  We are scientists, economists, foresters, veterinarians and conservationists. We are in the boardrooms and the corner offices of international enterprises, and are the owners and operators of small businesses. We are property owners and managers. We are policy makers and standard bearers.  Women are increasingly involved in every aspect of agriculture.

On October 20, I have invited a small group of leaders from almost all corners of the ag sector to join me at the White House and discuss the future of women in agriculture.  Co-hosted by the White House Rural Council, and co-organized by AGree (a collaborative initiative of nine of the world’s leading foundations to tackle long-term food and agriculture issues), this meeting will be an opportunity to discuss the impact women have had in American agriculture and the vision we have for the next generation of agricultural leaders.

Women principal farm operators average 60 years old. This means our daughters and granddaughters hold the future of American agriculture in their hands.  As women leaders, it is our responsibility to make sure the next generation of women are educated, trained and prepared to usher agriculture into the future.

When I was a kid growing up on a Georgia peanut farm, I was inspired by my mother’s hard work on and off the farm. She taught me to carry my love of the land into all aspects of my life. As my career has developed, I have continued to be inspired by not only incredibly strong and talented women who are making a difference in agriculture, but also by men who recognize the vital role that women play in this industry. Monday’s dialogue will be just one of many parts of an important conversation on how we can better engage and empower women to continue helping agriculture succeed.

Join the conversation using #womeninag and share with the world the women who inspire you.

An Opportunity for Colorado Rural Small Business to Connect with USDA

In support of the Obama Administration’s efforts to put Americans back to work and create an economy built to last, the Department of Agriculture (USDA), Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization will host Rural Small Business Connections, a training event to provide small businesses with educational networking sessions and opportunities on how to successfully do business with USDA and other Federal agencies.

Rural Small Business Connections is designed to provide small businesses and small farmer-owned cooperatives with the exposure and insight to increase small business contracting participation with the Federal government.  Conference attendees will have an opportunity to participate in a full day of learning discussions led by program and small business procurement officials from USDA, and other Federal agencies. Read more »

Un-Paving the Way to Successful Outdoor Education in Urban Settings

Children from Warren Village discover hiding spots for bugs at Warren Village’s new Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom in Denver. (Courtesy of Dexter Lane, Nature Explore)

Children from Warren Village discover hiding spots for bugs at Warren Village’s new Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom in Denver. (Courtesy of Dexter Lane, Nature Explore)

Mothers sit and laugh together, shaded by newly planted trees. They look on while their children play and explore in dirt and grass at the new Outdoor Nature Explore Classroom of Warren Village in the heart of Denver, Colorado.

A U.S. Forest Service grant of $100,000 and a partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation made the outdoor classroom possible.

This new outdoor space is un-paving the way to outdoor education opportunities for urban children in Denver, planting the seeds of inspired outdoor learning through the use of nature play spaces. In contrast to the previous hardened playground with sticky asphalt and hot metal slides, children of Warren Village are now immersed in a nature play zone of trees, shade, dirt, flowers, plants, stumps, stones and water. Read more »

Get Back, Give Back: Federal Retiree Begins New ‘Career’ with US Forest Service

Bob Steelquist retired from NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries in May 2014 after a long public-service career that also included the National Park Service, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Puget Sound Water Quality Authority. He lives on the Olympic Peninsula, in Washington State, and recently began his second career as a volunteer with the U.S. Forest Service. (Courtesy Bob Steelquist). Forest Service photo.

Bob Steelquist retired from NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries in May 2014 after a long public-service career that also included the National Park Service, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Puget Sound Water Quality Authority. He lives on the Olympic Peninsula, in Washington State, and recently began his second career as a volunteer with the U.S. Forest Service. (Courtesy Bob Steelquist). Forest Service photo.

After nearly 32 years of combined federal and state natural resource management public service, I retired.

I have been blessed with a rewarding career. But before that final day working in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary arrived, I had already applied for and been accepted as a volunteer wilderness ranger in the Pasayten Wilderness of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Washington State. It was the best promotion of my career. Read more »

Rural Small Business Connects with USDA at Upcoming Louisiana Event

Do you have a small business and want to do business with USDA?  If so, you need to consider attending an upcoming event in Louisiana.

In support of the Obama Administration’s efforts to put Americans back to work and create an economy built to last, the USDA Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization will host Rural Small Business Connections, a training event to provide small businesses with educational networking sessions and opportunities on how to successfully do business with the Agriculture Department and other Federal agencies. Read more »

Learning All Summer Long with WINS Interns at USDA

Washington Internships for Native Students (WINS) interns with USDA Under Secretary Avalos at the closing ceremony at American University in Washington, DC.

Washington Internships for Native Students (WINS) interns with USDA Under Secretary Avalos at the closing ceremony at American University in Washington, DC.

With over 3 million students graduating college during the 2013-2014 school year, what sets you apart from your peers? The answer: internships.

 Internships provide an immeasurable benefit to both the intern and to organizations like USDA.  In addition to gaining valuable work experience, internships are a great way to network, apply classroom knowledge to real-life, on-the-job situations, and gain confidence. Read more »