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Posts tagged: schools

USDA Funding Support Helps a Native Learning Center in Rural Alaska to Grow

Yuut Elitnaurviat – People’s Learning Center (YE) is a non-profit vocational training center created by regional leaders to address the unique training and vocational education needs of the primarily Native residents of the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta Region of southwestern Alaska. YE has been carefully designed and is community driven. Read more »

USDA Participates in National Lab Day

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

By Mary Ann Rozum, National Program Leader, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture

As a national program leader at USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a grant-making organization, I am normally on the front end of ensuring that scientific information makes its way onto the farm and into classrooms across the nation. However, last week I had the opportunity to get my hands dirty, so to speak, by participating in National Lab Day (NLD).

NLD is a nationwide initiative that matches volunteer students and scientific professionals with educators to bring discovery-based science experiences to students in grades K-12. The NLD website matched me with fifth-grade teacher Doug Schoemer at Flint Hill School in Fairfax County, Virginia to teach an earth science project on the Nile River and the history of food production and natural river cycles.

We taught an interactive watershed exhibit that demonstrated erosion and flooding and ways to manage agriculture production in ancient times as well as the present. In addition, we used Google Earth maps and had each student adopt a section of the Nile River and interpret aerial photos of agriculture fields, dams and cities today and plot points from their textbooks on the map.

In addition to teaching Mr. Schoemer’s class, I taught two additional fifth grade classes about the watershed demonstration and how river systems function, whether on the Nile, or the local Potomac or the Mississippi Rivers, and the importance of protecting watersheds and water supplies.  The students asked a lot of good questions on how we get our city water supplies and how to protect their own home wells and ponds from pollution.  The students led a virtual tour of the Nile River with Google Earth maps, and have continued to use mapping to study more current issues such as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mr. Schoemer and I are planning more ways to use the watershed exhibit in the classroom next year and new ways to apply mapping to other classroom projects.  In fact, I enjoyed the experience so much that I plan to follow up with another school with a schoolyard garden.  NLD is a great way to not only get to know the schools in my local community but to also share my passion and expertise with the next generation of future scientists.

Fifth Grade teacher Doug Schoemer instructs his students about their Google Earth assignment.

Fifth Grade teacher Doug Schoemer instructs his students about their Google Earth assignment.


Indiana Students Show USDA How to Eat Healthy and Be Active in School

By Susie Stanfield, Fishers Elementary Physical Education Teacher, Fishers, IN (near Indianapolis)

We were really excited when USDA Food and Nutrition Deputy Administrator Audrey Rowe visited our school on Friday, May 21st. Students from Mrs. Trees’ 3rd grade class showed Ms. Rowe how fun it is to exercise in school by participating in a cardio/station activity focused on the “Indy 500 Race.” After class, everyone went to the cafeteria for lunch prepared by Tracy Huser, our cafeteria manager, and her staff. Ms. Rowe held a roundtable with parents, teachers, students, and our district administrators to discuss nutrition and school lunch options. We’re all hoping these ideas will help develop healthy eating habits for years to come and assist the next generation in fighting obesity and health problems.

Third graders in Fishers Elementary gym class.
Third graders in Fishers Elementary gym class.

Deputy Administrator Audrey Rowe joins the Fishers Elementary School lunch line.
Deputy Administrator Audrey Rowe joins the Fishers Elementary School lunch line.

Deputy Adminstrator Audrey Rowe enjoys lunch with third graders at Fishers Elementary School.
Deputy Adminstrator Audrey Rowe enjoys lunch with third graders at Fishers Elementary School.

The 2010 Census: We Can’t Move Forward Until You Mail it Back

By taking just 10 minutes to answer just 10 questions, farmers and rural residents can help ensure a bright future for their local communities. The 2010 Census is now on its way to every household in the United States – and the results will have a major impact on rural America.

The U.S. Constitution requires a national census once every 10 years to count the population and determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives. In addition, the federal government uses census data to allocate more than $400 billion each year to state, local and tribal governments.

These funds support many of structures and services critical to the health and sustainability of rural areas, including hospitals, schools, senior centers, job training facilities, roads, bridges and telecommunications infrastructure.

I can think of few segments of the population that have more at stake in this census than rural America. In this economic climate, many rural communities are already struggling. And in recent years, many of them have suffered significant population losses. This makes it especially important that each and every rural resident be counted so their communities receive a fair share of representation and funding from the federal government.

Unlike the Census of Agriculture, which USDA conducts every five years to obtain in-depth information about the nation’s farms and ranches, the population census provides a quick snapshot of the entire nation. Both censuses are vital tools in ensuring the sustainability and prosperity of our rural communities.

So I urge you to please invest in your community’s future by taking 10 minutes to complete your 2010 Census form.

Cynthia Clark, Administrator, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

NASS is an agency of USDA’s Research, Education, and Extension Mission Area

Census workers have been busy visiting residents to increase awareness about the 2010 Census, verify addresses and answer questions. Credit: U.S. Census Bureau, Public Information Office
Census workers have been busy visiting residents to increase awareness about the 2010 Census, verify addresses and answer questions. Credit: U.S. Census Bureau, Public Information Office

Homes across the United States will receive a census packet this month. The package will include a census form and a privacy letter describing the confidentiality of the census data and how your privacy is protected. Credit: U.S. Census Bureau, Public Information Office
Homes across the United States will receive a census packet this month. The package will include a census form and a privacy letter describing the confidentiality of the census data and how your privacy is protected. Credit: U.S. Census Bureau, Public Information Office

An enumerator visits a farmer for the 1940 Census. One of the fifty questions Americans were asked in 1940 was, “Does the person’s household live on a farm?” Credit: Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-91199
An enumerator visits a farmer for the 1940 Census. One of the fifty questions Americans were asked in 1940 was, “Does the person’s household live on a farm?” Credit: Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-91199

Students Have Lively Discussion on Climate Change Across the Atlantic

Yesterday the U.S. Forest Service hosted a side-event at the United Nations Copenhagen Climate Change Conference with some very special stakeholders unable to make the trip. A video-conference discussing climate change was held between DC-area students at Forest Service headquarters and students in Copenhagen, Denmark. Read more »

Secretary Vilsack: Addressing Child Hunger and Improving Health

Today I testified before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Environment on the important issue of the upcoming reauthorization of the Department’s Child Nutrition Programs. We have a great opportunity right now to combat child hunger and improve the health and nutrition of children across the country, and we cannot let this moment pass us by. Read more »