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Rural Champion Works to Improve Views of Sustainable Agriculture

Linda Barnes, Farmer and Educator, Marshalltown Community College, Iowa

Linda Barnes, Farmer and Educator, Marshalltown Community College, Iowa

Cross posted from the White House Rural Champions of Change website:

Linda Barnes is a professor of biology at the Marshalltown Community College and also an organic farmer. Read more »

APHIS Veterinary Medical Officer Protects not Just Chickens, but People Too

Hello, my name is Dr. Chrislyn Wood Nicholson and I’m a Poultry Specialist with USDA’s Animal Plant Healthy Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services (VS). I’ve worked for APHIS since 2004 as a veterinarian, but my relationship with this agency began even earlier. As a student, I was a recipient of APHIS’ Saul T. Wilson Jr. scholarship for students interested in veterinary medicine, which helped me get through school.

Why did I become a vet?  I have always loved animals and science when I was growing up and a veterinary career seemed like a good way to combine my interests. I now get to help both animals and people every day. Read more »

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Urges Philanthropists to “Step Up and Take Risks”

One of the great things about being Secretary of Agriculture is that I get to see first-hand how truly vast our great nation is.  It’s been my privilege to represent USDA and President Obama from Alaska to Florida and from North Dakota to New Mexico.  Of course, I also spend quite a bit of time in the Midwest.  The scope of rural America is truly awesome, and so are the challenges we face as we work to create jobs and improve the quality of rural life.

Earlier this week, I delivered the keynote address at the Council on Foundations Rural Philanthropy Conference in Kansas City, and I urged those in attendance to work hand-in-hand with us, our counterparts in state and local government, faith based organizations and non-profits to bring substantial, sustainable improvement to rural living conditions in small, rural communities across the country. Read more »

Forests Inside Out!

Forests Inside Out! is a partnership of the U.S. Forest Service, World Forestry Center, and the Inner City Youth Institute. The program’s activities are structured around “Project Learning Tree,” a nationally recognized curriculum that is aimed at fostering an understanding of how forests and the environment work. Partially funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, it provides outdoor education opportunities to students from underserved communities.

“Nothing compares to getting students outside,” said Rob Pierce, education director with the World Forestry Center, one of the program’s sponsors. “And, it’s important to give those who have never had the opportunity a chance to make that connection.” Read more »

For A North Dakota City, a Recovery Act Loan Makes the Difference

“Without the involvement of USDA Rural Development, this hospital would not have been built,” says Martin Richman, CEO of the Jamestown Regional Medical Center (JRMC).  Marty smiled from ear-to-ear as he prepared to thank North Dakota Rural Development State Director, Jasper Schneider and his staff at a formal ribbon cutting ceremony at the new $52 million facility.  USDA Rural Development financed a direct loan through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and guaranteed a loan through AgStar Financial.

The 25-bed, critical access hospital will not only serve a nine-county area but it will also stimulate the economy through employment of over 300 health professionals.  The community hospital’s roots date back to 1928 when ground was broken for JRMD’s predecessor.  That older structure will now be owned by Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota and remodeled into a senior housing facility financed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  Read more »

Disability Not a Barrier to Conservation Planning

A planning meeting with Freitas at the Redding Service Center.

A planning meeting with Freitas at the Redding Service Center.

Shasta County landowner Karen Freitas has worked with the staff of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) since 2009, when she sought help recovering from a devastating wild fire that had burned much of her 160-acre tree farm the previous summer. Read more »