USDA Rural Development Civil Rights Director Angilla Denton (left) and City of Nunapitchuk Administrator Juliana Wassillie (right) exchange contact information during the Office of Civil Rights’ visit to Alaska.
Last month, USDA took time to reflect on the great strides we’ve made in achieving better Civil Rights results for those who work here and those we serve. This month’s chapter, Rural America is Back in Business, examines how USDA has helped the rural economy rebound. By embracing Civil Rights and opportunity for all, the case can be made that the two themes are closely related.
As I reflect on some of the ways USDA Rural Development (RD) has demonstrated equity and inclusion for our external and internal customers. One of the goals Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack addressed last month is USDA’s “New and Improved Outreach to Expand the Breadth of Our Service.” Perhaps one of RD’s biggest expansion efforts is the creation of specific outreach plans to reach the underserved and unserved populations, particularly through our StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity initiative. Read more »
Cross-posted from the Alaska Dispatch News:
For students heading back to school this month in Kodiak, it’s anything but “class as usual.” Because at Kodiak Island Borough School District, 400 miles from Anchorage and accessible only by airplane and ferry, ConnectED investments in high-speed internet and new technology have transformed the student experience — with remarkable results.
Walking through Kodiak High School offers a glimpse at the transformative role education technology is playing in rural America. In one classroom, students use videoconferencing technology to connect with teachers and students from across the island — expanding their horizons through virtual field trips and never-before-available courses like music and civics. Math offerings, once limited to algebra, now include online and distance-learning courses all the way up through calculus. And before and after school, high-speed connectivity allows teachers to tap into interactive professional development and training to customize student learning based on individual needs. Read more »
AMS helped to establish a meat processing plant on the Southern University campus, giving students hands-on learning and providing resources for USDA Meat Grading and Inspection trainings. AMS staff, Curtis Chisley, gives AMS Administrator Starmer (center) a tour of the facility and talked about a proposed expansion project to increase capacity.
Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Louisiana with my Administrator, Elanor Starmer, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), and visit Southern University and A & M College (Southern), an 1890 Land Grant University and Historically Black College. Located on Scott’s Bluff overlooking the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge, LA, the campus covers 512 acres, with an agricultural experimental station on an additional 372-acres just north of the main campus. It is at this university that AMS began a strong partnership in the mid 1980′s to help establish a Beginning Agricultural Youth Opportunities Unlimited (B.A.Y.O.U.) Program.
BAYOU provides an opportunity for high school students to gain “first hand” knowledge about career opportunities in Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences and related disciplines. With more than a third of career federal employees projected to be eligible for retirement in 2017, programs like B.A.Y.O.U. cultivate and nurture agricultural professionals for the future. Read more »
Thermotherapy trucks cover infected citrus trees with a canopy to heat treat them significantly reducing the amount of disease in the trees and increasing their productivity.
The Florida citrus industry is under siege and the invader is a tiny bug called the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP). The ACP spreads a disease known as Huanglongbing (HLB) or citrus greening, and together they are destroying groves that have been cultivated by families for generations.
But all is not lost. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working closely with State and Federal partners such as the Agricultural Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture, as well as State departments of agriculture and the citrus industry in Florida, California, Arizona and Texas to develop short-term solutions to help protect groves while researchers focus on longer-term projects that may one day put an end to this devastating pest and disease combo. 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 Secretary Tom Vilsack declared August 1-7 “National WIC Breastfeeding Week”
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated around the world each year during the first week of August to promote breastfeeding and highlight its importance to the health of mothers and babies.
This year’s theme is “Breastfeeding: A Key to Sustainable Development.” USDA’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) joins the celebration as WIC promotes breastfeeding all year long as the optimal choice for moms who are medically able. We support breastfeeding WIC moms through counseling and educational materials, peer counselors, a specially-tailored food package, and breastfeeding aids like breast pumps. USDA’s successful national breastfeeding promotion campaign, Loving Support Makes Breastfeeding Work, serves as the foundation of our breastfeeding activities. It emphasizes the importance of support from family and friends, from the health care system, and from the community. All have key roles to play in providing the support a breastfeeding mother needs. Read more »