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USDA Holds Cross-Departmental Discussion to Encourage Mentoring and STEM Literacy

National CARES Mentoring Movement founder and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, Essence magazine, Susan Taylor (red coat), met for a cross-departmental discussion with Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy personnel in the Whitten Building, U.S. Department of Agriculture, in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, February 28, 2012.  This not-for-profit organization is dedicated to recruiting and connecting mentors with local youth and mentoring organizations to help guide under-resourced children to academic and social success across the country. This discussion provided a continuation of the White House Policy in Action conference that took place in November 2011.  The focus of the discussion was about how existing federal programs and administration priorities can be leveraged with her organization, especially as it relates to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) literacy, education and rural youth.  USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

National CARES Mentoring Movement founder and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, Essence magazine, Susan Taylor (red coat), met for a cross-departmental discussion with Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy personnel in the Whitten Building, U.S. Department of Agriculture, in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, February 28, 2012. This not-for-profit organization is dedicated to recruiting and connecting mentors with local youth and mentoring organizations to help guide under-resourced children to academic and social success across the country. This discussion provided a continuation of the White House Policy in Action conference that took place in November 2011. The focus of the discussion was about how existing federal programs and administration priorities can be leveraged with her organization, especially as it relates to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) literacy, education and rural youth. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture held a cross-departmental discussion focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) literacy with Susan Taylor of the National CARES Mentoring Network. Susan Taylor, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Essence magazine, founded the National CARES Mentoring Network while spending time in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  While in New Orleans, Susan said that she learned that over 50% of African American fourth graders are functionally illiterate. Susan came to USDA to explain the need for literacy training and other academic enrichment support for under-resourced children in low-income families in order to help students develop a broad range of 21st century literacy skills. Read more »

USDA, Other Agencies, Join Forces to Improve Affordable Rental Housing Programs in Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s affordable housing developers and owners will be relieved of regulatory redundancies and burdens on receiving government financial assistance for low and moderate income housing developments as a result of a Memorandum of Understanding signed last week.

USDA Rural Development State Director, Stan Gruszynski (left) signs the Subsidy Layering Review MOU agreement with WHEDA Executive Director, Wyman Winston; and HUD Midwest Regional Administrator, Antonio Riley at the WHEDA Offices in Madison, WI on February 27, 2012.

USDA Rural Development State Director, Stan Gruszynski (left) signs the Subsidy Layering Review MOU agreement with WHEDA Executive Director, Wyman Winston; and HUD Midwest Regional Administrator, Antonio Riley at the WHEDA Offices in Madison, WI on February 27, 2012.

USDA Rural Development, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) jointly announced the implementation of the program at a signing ceremony in Madison, Wis. Read more »

Forest Service Engineer, Former Student Intern, Triumphs Over Early Life Hardships

“It’s a pleasure to get up in the morning and go to work,” said Toniette “Toni” Addison, a civil engineer for the National Forests in Florida. “I spend the majority of my time designing recreation sites on some of the most beautiful and remote areas of our forests.”

Toni Addison, a civil engineer for the National Forests in Florida, is pictured here at Leon Sink Geological Area on the Apalachicola National Forest. The renovation of Leon Sinks was one of several projects completed in 2011 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Addison inspected the work of local contractors and businesses to ensure that contract specifications were adhered to and the project was completed in a timely manner. Photo Credit: Susan Blake, Public Affairs Specialist, National Forests in Florida

Toni Addison, a civil engineer for the National Forests in Florida, is pictured here at Leon Sink Geological Area on the Apalachicola National Forest. The renovation of Leon Sinks was one of several projects completed in 2011 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Addison inspected the work of local contractors and businesses to ensure that contract specifications were adhered to and the project was completed in a timely manner. Photo Credit: Susan Blake, Public Affairs Specialist, National Forests in Florida

But things were not always so rosy for Addison. One of six children, she recalls a difficult life growing up as a young African-American girl in the projects of Fort Myers, Fla. Her single-parent mother frequently left Toni and her siblings at home alone to fend for themselves – at times for as long as two weeks. Read more »

Slice of Albuquerque Will be Turned into the Children’s Bosque: More Kids in the Woods Projects and Children’s Forests Nationwide Receive $1 Million Funding

Urban children in Albuquerque, N.M., will soon be able to descend on 20 acres of forestland along the Rio Grande River, where they will have the freedom to climb onto an elevated fort, hike on a trail through the cottonwood forest to learn about the different plants and animals and do what all children are supposed to do: play outside.

Children looking through microscopes in a forest.

Children looking through microscopes in a forest.

Children’s Bosque – Spanish for forest – is one of eight Children’s Forests and 23 More Kids in the Woods projects in 18 states awarded a total of $1 million in cost-share grants from the U.S. Forest Service. Each of the winning projects has the backing of partners and local communities, and winning proposals either expand current projects or create new ones. Read more »

Like a Kid in a Candy Store, Lincoln Bramwell Loves History and the Forest Service

Originally, the young Lincoln Bramwell wanted to be a garbage man, what we call a sanitation engineer today.

Lincoln Bramwell of the U.S. Forest Service.

Lincoln Bramwell of the U.S. Forest Service.

“They swing on the back of trucks, find cool stuff occasionally.  I thought that was the coolest job ever,” he said. Bramwell explained that it changed later once “I had to take the trash out as a kid.” Read more »

USDA Official Reads The Lorax to Assembly of Children, Encourages Them to Take Care of Forests

Imagine being a kid and having a senior government official come to your school to share the joy of reading and storytelling. Then imagine the excitement when an actual Dr. Seuss character enters the room!

Arthur “Butch” Blazer and the Lorax.

Arthur “Butch” Blazer and the Lorax.

That’s what happened when Arthur “Butch” Blazer, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, recently spoke to more than 300 students at James K. Polk Elementary School in Alexandria, Va. about the importance of trees and forests. Read more »