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Category: Education

Gardens Bring Learning to Life in North Dakota Tribal Community

The Cannon Ball Elementary School Garden on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota

The Cannon Ball Elementary School Garden on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota.

USDA celebrates National Native American Heritage Month in November with a blog series focused on USDA’s support of Tribal Nations and highlighting a number of our efforts throughout Indian Country and Alaska.

What we teach our children about food can shape how they eat, learn, grow and live. While I was on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, I saw firsthand how a community garden can bring learning to life.

Planting a garden near their school, elementary students in Cannon Ball created a hands-on, outdoor classroom where they are taught how to grow their own food, a skill that will last a lifetime. The garden not only promotes a healthy lifestyle, it improved the students’ behavior and performance at school and developed their appreciation for the environment. Read more »

Investing in the Basics – Quality Education at the Red Cloud Indian School

Students working with plants at Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota

Students at Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota.

USDA celebrates National Native American Heritage Month in November with a blog series focused on USDA’s support of Tribal Nations and highlighting a number of our efforts throughout Indian Country and Alaska.

As State Director of USDA Rural Development in South Dakota, I want to ensure small South Dakotan communities have just as much opportunity to have successful business ventures, to build their community infrastructure, and to improve the quality of life in their hometowns as their urban counterparts. Yet, before anyone can come up with a business plan, design a new top-notch wastewater treatment facility, or plan a downtown revitalization project, one has to be taught the basics of how.

The roots of all opportunity within any community are in access to quality education. Read more »

Investing the Tools to Learn

A group of Canyon Country Youth Corps from the Four Corners School of Outdoor Education after a day of stringing fenceline

A group of Canyon Country Youth Corps from the Four Corners School of Outdoor Education after a day of stringing fenceline. Photo courtesy Four Corners School of Outdoor Education, Jenna Whetzel, Photographer

As a society we do not expect children to learn to write without paper, we do not expect them to learn to cook without access to food, and we certainly would never expect them to learn to read without books. It’s simple: in order to learn, one must have the proper tools and experiences to do so.

At the Four Corners School of Outdoor Education, students and teachers, young and old, learn about conservation and land management by taking part in one of four programs designed to encourage stewardship of the entire Colorado Plateau region. While enrolled in the Canyon Country Youth Corps Program, students are immersed in land management education in order to eventually manage public lands in their own careers. Read more »

Investing in Learning Resources for Homeschoolers

Students in the yearbook class coming together at the school’s new resource center in Marysville, Calif

Students in the yearbook class come together at the school’s new resource center in Marysville, Calif. The charter school offers a unique hybrid learning model combining homeschooling and traditional classroom learning for their 420 students.

More than one million children are homeschooled nationwide, and with that, over a million parents have committed huge amounts of time, money and patience into ensuring their children receive specialized one-on-one education. USDA Rural Development understands the challenges of homeschooling, and is an ally to the folks in rural America who choose this path.

In Marysville, California a unique charter school offers a special opportunity to homeschooled students: teachers and classrooms.  CORE @ the Camptonville Academy utilizes a Personalized Learning model which tailors one-on-one teaching with a focus on individual learning styles. Students who learn at home can come to the Academy for specialized classes and attention in subjects from math and science to 3D animation and robotics. Read more »

New Perspectives on the Dynamics of Dry Lands

ARS ecologist Debra Peters (left) and New Mexico State University ecologist Jin Yao evaluate vegetation before estimating plant production at the Jornada Experimental Range.  Photo by Stacey Peters.

ARS ecologist Debra Peters (left) and New Mexico State University ecologist Jin Yao evaluate vegetation before estimating plant production at the Jornada Experimental Range. Photo by Stacey Peters.

Vast acreage of dry lands may evoke images of a desolate, scorched desert that is uninhabitable to humans. But the arid and semi-arid dry lands of about half of both the United States’ and the world’s land surfaces actually are complex ecosystems made up variously of grasses, shrubs, agriculture, and even urban dwellers. Now, ecological education about these complex dry lands has taken a step forward with the publication of a special issue of the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. Read more »

A Special Invitation from Deputy Secretary to Join a Google+ Hangout on Veteran Farmers

A man holding plant seedlings with the USA flag behind him

Helping our Returning Heroes find Opportunities in Agriculture: Join us for a Google+ Hangout with Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden. Tune in live on Thursday, September 17, 11AM ET at www.usda.gov/live

On Monday, I had the opportunity to meet with several inspiring Service members and launch an expanded collaboration between USDA and the Department of Defense at a Transition Assistance Program class hosted at the Pentagon. This collaboration will integrate agriculture into the career training and counseling programs Service members receive as they transition out of the military. Information about USDA resources and programs will now reach 200,000 transitioning Service members every year.

It’s exciting to see veterans — many of whom come from rural communities — drawn back to the land, and USDA is here to provide support for military veterans and their families, from nutrition assistance to rural rental housing and homeownership opportunities. In conjunction with Monday’s announcement, USDA also launched a new website, www.usda.gov/veterans. This site is specifically designed to educate veterans about USDA programs and the support available for all active duty military and veterans. Read more »