A crew from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians takes care of crops inside a high tunnel constructed with Community Food Projects (CFP) funds. CFP grants help local communities take control over their local food supply. (Photo courtesy of John Hendrix)
Fine words, to be sure, but how do we make it true in a department that employs almost 100,000 directly and countless more indirectly at thousands of locations across the country?
At USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), civil rights are inherent to our mission. By promoting equal opportunity and supporting underserved groups and communities, NIFA’s programs help people improve their lives and communities.
NIFA provides funding and national leadership for research, education, and extension programs that address the nation’s agricultural challenges. NIFA-supported programs turn research into action by bringing groundbreaking discoveries from research laboratories to farms, communities, and classrooms. Read more »
Agriculture Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Dr. Joe Leonard (right) and an auditorium full of U.S. Department of Agriculture employees laughed, listened and learned of the Reverend Al Sharpton’s insights about the topic of “Civil Rights in the Age of Obama,” on Monday, February 28, 2011 in Washington, D.C. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.
Throughout the month of August, we are reflecting on changes we’ve made over the past eight years to create a culture of inclusivity among USDA employees and the diverse communities we serve. For a broader look at our progress, check out our Results project here:
As a kid during the first years of desegregation in Austin, Texas’ public schools, many of my early experiences were shaped by race, and I quickly became familiar with the life-changing impacts discrimination can have on individuals both young and old. While a lot for any kid to experience, these circumstances taught me the power of inclusion, and from them, I became aware of the ways diversity and fairness can help repair troubled histories and heal the wounds of the past. These lessons have shaped my life’s work.
When Secretary Vilsack and I arrived nearly eight years ago, we were aware of USDA’s imperfect history marked by denial of equal service – too often based on race. It was admittedly a terrible situation by any accord. We had our work cut out for us, and got started quickly by examining our history deeply and thoroughly, bringing to light the most challenging aspects of the Department’s past. Read more »
USDA and Tribal leaders meet to discuss nutrition programs in Indian Country.
This February I had the great honor of participating in a meeting on the landscape of nutrition programs in tribal communities. The meeting in Washington, D.C. brought together elected leaders from 12 tribal nations across the country, as well as USDA Acting Deputy Secretary Michael Scuse and representatives of tribal organizations.
Nutrition wasn’t the only topic on the table that day, as leaders shared with us the wonders and challenges for those living within tribal communities. Elected leaders from as far west as Quinault Nation (along the coast of Washington) to representatives from Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians in northern Michigan, spoke of the beauty and tradition among their tribes, but also shared the challenges experienced by tribal youth, young families, single adults, and respected elders living on Indian reservations. Read more »
Bertha Etsitty helps 4-H members make traditional blue corn mush during a club activity. Photo by Leah Platero
Nutritional security is defined as “a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”
Achieving nutritional security in the context of the burgeoning population, climate change, diminishing land and water resources, environmental degradation, and changing incomes and diets will require not just approaches to sustainably producing more food, but also smarter ways of producing food, dealing with food waste, and promoting improved nutritional outcomes. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and extension and seeks to make transformative discoveries that solve these societal challenges. NIFA’s portfolio of support for nutritional security and sustainable agriculture includes literally thousands of impactful efforts across our nation; below are just a handful that speak to the transformative work transforming lives. For example: Read more »
USDA Deputy Under Secretary Arthur “Butch” Blazer is all smiles with a group of San Carlos Apache Reservation fourth graders as they hold up their Every Kid in a Park passes. Smokey Bear got in on the fun, too, and provided the kids with a special packet of information about wildfire prevention. (U.S. Forest Service)
With more than 40 years of professional experience working in the field of natural resources, I am sometimes asked to share the personal outdoor experiences I had as a tribal member growing up on my reservation. When the request involves children, and those children are Native American, I am especially honored because in my culture the elders share traditional teachings of how we are connected to nature, both through stories and traditional songs.
As we celebrate Earth Day 2016, I am reminded of a recent invitation from the U.S. Forest Service Tonto National Forest and Smokey Bear to speak at a career day on the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona. I had an audience of 180 tribal fourth graders from Rice Elementary School to share my experiences growing up on a reservation and the lessons I learned about the outdoors. Read more »
Researchers at the Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station hosted a two-day field workshop at the Blodgett Experimental Forest in California as part of last year’s Native American Research Assistantship Program. Photo credit: Jonathan Long, US Forest Service.
The U.S. Forest Service is working with The Wildlife Society to give Native American students a chance to work as research assistants for Forest Service scientists. Forest Service Research and Development funding provides stipends for living expenses for college juniors, seniors and graduate students during their mentorship, while the society provides administrative support and coordination.
The Research Assistantship Program selects Native American students who are interested in becoming wildlife biologists. They gain beneficial hands-on experience while working with a wildlife professional on an approved project. Five students have been selected for research assistantships in this second year of the program, which will last for approximately 12-14 weeks, beginning in late spring and running through late summer. Read more »