At the U.S. Department of Agriculture we’re working hard to strengthen the economy across rural America – and in recent years, we have seen positive signs of growth.
At the same time, we know that areas of high poverty still exist, and many of these are in our small towns and rural communities. In fact, nine out of ten persistent poverty counties in our nation are in rural America.
That’s why USDA launched the StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity initiative.
Through StrikeForce, we provide intensive care for communities that suffer from high poverty. USDA identifies areas with over 20 percent poverty for the StrikeForce effort. We join together with communities in these areas that are working to build opportunity for their citizens. Our staff partner with local organizations and civic leaders, providing them with technical support and assistance to help them successfully apply for USDA programs. Read more »
Brianne O’Rourke, with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, holds a large goldfish found in the Tahoe Keys of Lake Tahoe. (Photo courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife)
Lake Tahoe, the country’s highest alpine lake, is no goldfish bowl.
But U.S. Forest Service fish biologists with the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit said they’re well-acquainted with the big goldfish – several pounds and up to 4 to 8 inches long – living in the large freshwater lake along the border between California and Nevada. Read more »
Recently, Rural Cooperative Development funding helped to reopen a local Nebraska grocery store. The story goes like this.
The loss of a grocery store in a rural community can be a devastating blow, especially when it is the only, or at least major, source of local groceries. Not only do people then have to travel farther and expend more time and money to get their groceries, but it can also make it difficult on community pride and make it harder to attract new residents and businesses.
When the only grocery store in Elwood, Neb., closed in January of 2012, community leaders quickly responded, organizing a community meeting to consider opening a cooperatively owned grocery store. Jim Crandall of the UNL Nebraska Cooperative Development Center (NCDC), which receives funding from USDA Rural Development’s Rural Cooperative Development Grants, was the primary speaker at this first meeting to explain the concept of community ownership as a cooperative. The meeting attracted more than 100 people, almost all of whom felt that a grocery store was vital to the future of their community. Prior to and following the initial meeting, community leaders developed and distributed a survey to gauge interest in opening a co-op grocery store. The community response showed widespread support for the concept. A committed, hard-working steering committee was formed to begin the process of studying the feasibility of a grocery store, the cooperative business model, and creating pro-forma financials. Read more »
Snow surveyors approach SNOTEL site on Mount Hood.
Koeberle’s job carries her over mountains by helicopter and horse, snowshoes and skis. She has encountered grizzly bears, avalanches and wolves and visited ridges that few people have seen.
Koeberle is a hydrologist and snow surveyor for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and works on the agency’s snow survey team—a group of specially trained scientists who maintain snow gauges that are important to farmers, business owners and many other people in the West. Read more »
Mr. Bob Gardner’s fifth grade class at Dayton Elementary, learns about science through a living /learning laboratory at the school greenhouse and garden. The Dayton Elementary School garden is one of several gardens funded with a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant to the Healthy Communities Coalition of Lyon and Storey Counties in northwestern Nevada.
“Can a School Garden Supplement a Community’s Food Supply in a Sustainable Way?” That was the question asked by Bob Gardner’s fifth grade class at Dayton, Nevada, Elementary School on Tuesday as students presented their science projects to classmates and adult guests. Read more »
Nevada’s Stronger Economies Together (SET) Regional Team members met one last time Nov. 28 in Fallon, Nevada, to unveil the “Western Nevada Blueprint for Economic Development,” a plan that set goals to develop five targeted economic sectors for a 33,000-square mile region of Nevada across nine counties, involving more than 200 people.
The 75 people who met in good cheer that morning at the beautiful old Oats Park Art Center, had a lot to celebrate. They knew their region’s assets, they understood the barriers to growth, and they were starting to understand how working collaboratively benefits them all. Read more »