At the USDA Earth Day outdoor classroom in Boardman, Oregon, last month, USDA program technician Renee Robinson tests the children on what they’ve learned about saving energy at home. USDA photo.
Last month, USDA Rural Development employees and several partner organizations donated their Saturday to celebrate Earth Day with elementary and middle school-aged children at the Castle Rock farm worker housing complex in Boardman, Oregon.
Volunteers from Energy Trust of Oregon, CASA of Oregon, Sustainable Agriculture and Energy (SAGE) Center, Wind Turbine Industries Corporation, and Kardon Construction joined USDA to lead a variety of interactive educational activities about energy conservation and renewable energy alternatives. 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 »
Susan Curington of North Woods Figured Wood (left) shows State Director Vicki Walker (right) how the family business “upcycles” burls, stumps and small, odd-shaped, or difficult-to-use wood pieces to be sold at premium prices to carvers and other hobbyists. USDA photo.
At a recent expo held by the Oregon Woodland Cooperative (OWC), I had the opportunity to meet with a number of family forest landowners who are cultivating additional commercial ventures thanks, in part, to USDA’s Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program.
At the event, OWC President Neil Schroeder introduced me to cooperative members who have sprouted new businesses and created local jobs as a result. The terrific part of all this is that USDA’s VAPG program provided funds needed to conduct the in-field assessments, feasibility studies, business planning, and marketing activities needed to identify, process and sell new, non-lumber products harvested from Oregon’s family forests. Read more »
While on a recent visit to Oregon, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Victor Vasquez visited the Canyon East farm worker housing complex currently under construction in Madras. The USDA-supported facility is scheduled for completion in August, with families moving in shortly thereafter. Vasquez was joined by Oregon Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker.
The community of Madras in Central Oregon is surrounded by numerous farming and ranching operations that provide fresh foods and products for regional markets. Many of these operations, including irrigated seed crops, potatoes and mint as well as the numerous hay and livestock operations, can be labor intensive, and rely on an infusion of farm workers. Yet, housing options in the Madras area have been limited for farm workers and their families, despite the integral and valued role they play in local agriculture as well as the overall community. Read more »
Panels of economic experts, elected officials, community leaders and state agencies presented information in conjunction with Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Rural Development (RD) for a jointly hosted USDA Forum on Jobs & Economic Growth on January 21. The forum was held in Albany, a community with a 14 percent unemployment rate, well above the national rate. Read more »