Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribal Administrator Della John, and USDA Office of Tribal Relations Director Leslie Wheelock (right) at a hoop house operated by the Tribe. USDA photo.
Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to participate in the National Congress of American Indian’s (NCAI) mid-year meeting in Reno, Nevada. The NCAI meeting was a warm and familiar place for me, as I recently left a position as NCAI’s Director of Economic Development to assume my current position as Director of USDA’s Office of Tribal Relations.
While I was in Nevada, I wanted to be certain to see Secretary Vilsack’s StrikeForce Initiative in action, as I was aware that Nevada’s USDA leaders had selected Nevada’s Indian reservations for their StrikeForce focus. What a day I had on June 26! It was tremendous to experience the mutual vigor among tribal leaders, USDA leaders, and their respective teams. Read more »
West Virginia State Director Bobby Lewis and others visited Tucker County High School near Hambleton West Virginia as part of ARC’s tour through Appalachia. The group met with local educators and students to discuss the farm to school program; school, community and industry relationships; local farmers markets and greenhouse and high tunnel operation. While there, the group toured a high tunnel currently under construction. Photo Credit: Savanna Lyons of the WV Food & Farm Coalition
West Virginia and Appalachian Ohio have a lot in common beyond their shared state border. With a strong agricultural heritage, these vast rural areas are known for their forest and timber industries, and they are integrating food systems into local economic development.
Earlier this month, I joined Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Co-Chair Earl Gohl and Ohio’s State Rural Development Director Tony Logan to take a look at local food in the Buckeye state. My colleague, Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Joani Walsh, recently made a similar trip to West Virginia. Organized by ARC, the visits were an opportunity to discuss how local food is diversifying the economy, developing a more competitive workforce and generating opportunities within regions like Appalachia. “Through our work on the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative, we know that there are lots of ways that local foods are providing economic opportunities in rural communities,” said Walsh. “These visits with ARC gave us a clearer picture of how that is happening in Appalachia.” Read more »
Pennsylvania Law School student Levi Morris, shown with his mother, Becky, can now continue his education from home thanks to the broadband service provided to his town through the USDA Community Connect program. USDA photos by Heather Hartley.
It’s long been said, “You can’t go home again.” It looks like someone forgot to tell Levi Morris!
Morris, 24, is a law school student at the University of Pennsylvania in big-city Philadelphia. But he was raised in the tiny Southeast Ohio village of Stafford; nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in rural Monroe County. He says he loves Philadelphia and may even choose an urban lifestyle once he graduates, but right now, his heart is in Ohio. Read more »
Rural Utilities Administrator John Padalino visited Indiana last month to promote electrical, energy efficiency, broadband and water programs provided to communities by USDA.
Padalino and Indiana Rural Development State Director Philip Lehmkuhler traveled to Mexico, Indiana to celebrate the community’s new wastewater treatment plant which was funded by USDA Rural Development. Read more »
Pictured in Minburn, Iowa, are John Padalino and Deb Lucht, general manager, Minburn Communications. USDA recently helped finance a telecommunications upgrade in Minburn. Minburn Communications also announced last month that it would be Iowa’s third Village Post Office, a partnership program with the U.S. Postal Service to assist communities facing a reduction in hours at their local post office. Minburn’s post office is now open only four hours a day. Customers with basic postal needs can visit Minburn Communications nine hours a day for assistance. USDA Photo.
USDA Rural Development and Iowa’s Xenia Rural Water District earlier this spring announced an agreement that will set the rural water utility on a path to financial viability, while continuing to provide clean water for its 9,400 customers in 11 counties in central and north central Iowa.
During the last three-and-a-half years, USDA worked closely with Xenia in an effort to improve its operations, address financial shortfalls and ensure access to clean water for its rural customers. Read more »
Even in the most remote corners of America's countryside, USDA leaves a gentle, but lasting footprint as a champion of locally led, place-based rural economic and community development. You just have to know what you're looking for. USDA photo.
Have you ever been on vacation, but just couldn’t get away from your work? Me too. It seems everywhere I look I see the footprint of USDA Rural Development and its ties to rural revitalization. Because I love my job and the good work USDA is doing, I am thrilled each and every time I see the results of this collaborative work to stimulate economies, modernize infrastructure, and enhance the quality of life in rural America. Read more »