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Category: Education

Looking Ahead: Adding Seats to the Table to Diversify the Agricultural Workforce

USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden with ADM Chief Human Resources Officer Mike D’Ambrose and students Nicole Ashley Holden and Dara Robertson at the Agriculture Diversity and Inclusion Roundtable in Washington, D.C.

USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden with ADM Chief Human Resources Officer Mike D’Ambrose and students Nicole Ashley Holden and Dara Robertson at the Agriculture Diversity and Inclusion Roundtable in Washington, D.C.

From the field to the fork, we need diversity in agriculture.  I’m proud to say that here at USDA, we are doing our part to make sure young people have access to the wide array of opportunities available. Over the next five years, we can expect to see an average of 57,900 jobs become available annually in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and the environment. However, only 35,400 students will graduate with the specialized degrees and expertise to fill those jobs, leaving 39 percent to be filled by young people with talent in other areas. We need to expand the talent pool and change the dialogue to show agriculture as an attractive, meaningful career path.

Recently, I had the pleasure of participating in a roundtable discussion with leaders from industry, higher education, and the nonprofit sector to share best practices on how we can come together to grow a diverse pipeline of talent for U.S. agriculture. Together, we were able to discuss what’s working, and where we can improve to create opportunities for young people of all backgrounds to ultimately strengthen the ag workforce. Read more »

Fun New eBooks Help Kids Discover MyPlate

Mobile devices showing "Discover MyPlate, Two Bite Club and A MyPlate Meal"

Team Nutrition’s free MyPlate eBooks make learning about new foods fun for kids.

The recently-released Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 highlights how many Americans need to shift their dietary patterns to include more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy, seafood, and oils and eat fewer refined grains, added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium.  Perhaps your family has also set some new year’s resolutions to try some new vegetables or whole grains or choose fruit as snacks.

To help your family embrace these small changes towards a healthier lifestyle, the Food and Nutrition Service provides a variety of recipes, tips, and materials for kids through its Team Nutrition initiative.  Our latest resource is a collection of eight eBooks that teach young children about MyPlate and the types of foods found in each food group.  It’s nutrition education that’s fun and easy to use right from your mobile device! Read more »

Under Represented Students STEP-Up to Careers in Agriculture

Students in the STEP UP program taking part in a short course in environmental soil science

Students enrolled in the STEP UP to USDA Career Success program take part in an intense short course in environmental soil science. (Photo courtesy of Tanner Machado)

The lack of women and minority representation in the professional agricultural workforce has become so pronounced that in STEM Stratplan 2013 President Obama called for an “all-hands-on-deck approach to science, technology, engineering, and math” (STEM) education.

According to the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, despite accounting for 16 percent of the U.S. population, Hispanics earned only 8 percent of all certificates and degrees awarded in STEM fields. Read more »

Honoring a Legacy of Service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Secretary Vilsack thanked the employees of USDA for their work in support of Dr. King’s life and legacy of service to the American people. You can read his letter below:

On Monday, we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man whose legacy in support of a unified and equal America gives profound meaning to what our efforts in public service can and should look like. Dr. King believed we are each stronger when we lift up our neighbors. He lived his life advocating on behalf of the idea that we are better as a nation when no one is left behind.

As we enter the final year of this Administration and I begin to look back on the progress we’ve made as a Department, I’d like to reflect on the ways the dedicated employees of USDA have honored Dr. King’s dream by creating opportunities for—and upholding the unalienable rights of—every American. Read more »

Introducing USDA Results, a Year-Long Storytelling Effort of the Obama Administration’s Work on Behalf of Those Living, Working and Raising Families in Rural America

Today, USDA is launching USDA Results, a progressive, year-long, multimedia storytelling effort showcasing the Administration’s work on behalf of those living, working and raising families in rural America. Each month, USDA will release a new chapter of the story at medium.com/usda-results. We encourage you to check out January’s chapter, Celebrating America’s Farmers and Ranchers: Supporting the Producers Who Ensure a Safe, Affordable, Nutritious American Food Supply, and follow along throughout 2016.

When I began my service as Secretary of Agriculture in 2009, I took the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nickname of the ‘People’s Department’—first coined by President Abraham Lincoln—to heart.

President Lincoln knew the importance of agriculture to national prosperity—particularly at a time when about half of all Americans lived on the farm. He understood the critical responsibility of USDA and government to serve and support American agriculture and the rural communities who have, since the founding of our country, helped to drive innovation and economic growth on a national scale.   Read more »

A Banner Year for Education: 5 Grants Supporting Ag Education at All Levels, from Classrooms to Farms and the Table

USDA scientists work 365 days to provide safe and sustainable food, water, and natural resources in the face of a changing climate and uncertain energy sources. To recognize the contribution that agricultural science and research makes in our daily lives, this week’s “Banner Year” series features stories from 2015 that show the successes that USDA science and statistical agencies made for us all.

Strengthening education is crucial to the future of agriculture. To ensure that citizens are aware of farming’s impact on the economy and society, school curricula must emphasize the interconnected role of farming, food, and fiber production with environmental quality.  Funding includes programs targeting minority-serving universities, including the 1890 and 1994 land-grant institutions as well as Hispanic-serving institutions.  The following blogs illustrate the portfolio of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grants that help educational institutions address shortfalls in curricula design, material development, instruction delivery systems, student experiential learning opportunities, scientific instrumentation for teaching, and student recruitment and retention.

Here are five stories from 2015 to check out: Read more »