More than 800 students, teachers, elected officials and community leaders were present at the new Dillon Middle School dedication on Thursday morning, September 6th. Several years ago, a letter was written to Congress pleading for help to replace the 100 year old dilapidated school by then-eight grader, Ty’Sheoma Bethea.
Doug McKalip, Senior Policy Advisor for Rural Affairs with the White House Domestic Policy Council stated, “I think Ms. Bethea’s letter shows that an individual can have an impact, that the Obama Administration is listening, that we monitor closely the items that folks send by letter, email, and telephone. And that there often is action from the input.”
“This state of the art school is dedicated to the academic advancement of our children. I am pleased that the promise to the children of Dillon County has been kept,” said Vernita Dore, USDA Rural Development state director. Ms. Dore was instrumental in helping to fund construction of Dillon County Middle School, which replaces the old and dilapidated JV Martin Junior High, which was mentioned in President Obama’s first State of the Union address. Read more »
USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum provides students with a unique opportunity next February to meet leaders and discuss timely issues at the forefront of America’s agriculture. In 2007, the Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program was launched for junior-senior baccalaureate students to attend the event. Former winners say the Forum broadened their horizons as they focused on careers in agriculture. For the first time, graduate students may now also apply.
USDA’s 2013 Agricultural Outlook Forum to be held Feb. 21-22 in Arlington, Virginia, targets students in agricultural disciplines, nutrition and food science or pre-veterinary studies from Land-Grant Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and American Association of State Colleges of Agriculture and Renewable Resources institutions. Read more »
Last week it was my privilege to attend the annual United Tribes Tribal Leaders Summit and associated conferences in Bismarck, North Dakota. This annual gathering is an opportunity for tribal leaders from around the region to exchange information about current issues in Indian Country.
While there, I discussed the importance of the recently-appointed Council for Native American Farming and Ranching. The Council was selected by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to suggest changes to USDA regulations and to provide internal guidance or propose measures that would promote the participation of American Indian farmers and ranchers in USDA programs and support government-to-government relations between USDA and tribal governments. The Council is a discretionary advisory committee established in furtherance of Keepseagle v. Vilsack, which was a lawsuit alleging past discrimination by USDA against Native American farmers and ranchers in the way it operated its farm loan program.
I also met with Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Charles Murphy and shared that USDA will fund a water quality project to rehabilitate and expand a failing sewage treatment system serving members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Read more »
On April 16, 2012, U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer James Schoeffler was on routine patrol on the Pleasant Grove Ranger District which is located on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Utah. While on foot patrol in a popular recreation area located off Big Springs Trail in Provo Canyon, Schoeffler observed a trip wire that was barely visible along a trail. He then traced out the trip line and found a primitive type “booby trap” that was set to activate when the line was “tripped.” The device consisted of a large rock fashioned with sharpened sticks to create a large spiked ball that would potentially hit an unsuspected victim in the chest or head. Schoeffler quickly dismantled the trap and continued to check the area. During his search he discovered another trip line that was designated to send an individual falling onto a bed of sharpened wooden spikes protruding from the ground. Schoeffler dismantled this “booby trap” as well.
It was Schoeffler’s sharp eyesight, knowledge and good timing that kept someone from wandering into the traps, located about a half mile from the recreation area’s parking lot. These traps could have easily severely injured, maimed, or even killed someone recreating in the area. It just so happens that a child’s birthday party was being celebrated in the area on the day that Schoeffler discovered the traps. Read more »
Students at Woolmarket Elementary have transformed a vacant courtyard into a nucleus of plant activity, ranging from cabbages to coastal grasses.
When horticulturist Christine Coker first learned of the People’s Garden Initiative, she searched for a registered garden in her coastal Mississippi community.
Secretary Vilsack began the People’s Garden Initiative—the name references President Lincoln’s description of USDA as the “People’s Department”—in 2009 as an effort to challenge employees to create gardens at USDA facilities. It has since grown into a collaborative effort of over 700 local and national organizations all working together to establish community and school gardens across the country. Read more »
Jasper Cunningham, Michigan FFA National Officer candidate, Junior at Michigan State University, and owner of the Seed Boy Seed Company (left) meets with Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager at the Agriculture Department.
Jasper Cunningham is a busy young man. A Junior at Michigan State University, Michigan FFA’s National Officer candidate, and the owner of his own business: the Seed Boy Seed Company.
Like many FFA members, Jasper, of Ravenna, Michigan, didn’t grow up on a farm, but farming and agriculture is in his blood. An Ag Business major, he’s been in the FFA since his freshman year in high school. Read more »