The U.S. Departments of Education and Agriculture have teamed up to enhance agricultural education and related programs that promote postsecondary and career pathways, including teaching, according to an interagency agreement to advance agricultural education. U.S. Education and Agriculture Secretaries Arne Duncan and Tom Vilsack announced the agreement today during a White House Rural Council meeting with local educators at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
"Agricultural education is central to the future of American prosperity," Secretary Duncan said. "Many Americans may not realize that agriculture supports 1 in 12 jobs across the nation. For the U.S. economy to continue to rebound and grow, agriculture has to help lead the way."
Duncan added: "Agricultural educators face unique challenges--but they also can tap into unique strengths within their tight-knit communities. Agricultural education is very much about the jobs of the future--and not a backwards-looking curriculum to preserve the past."
"American agriculture makes incredible contributions to health of our economy and the strength of our nation as a whole. That's why it's so important to recruit the best and brightest of the next generation to pursue careers in agriculture," said Vilsack. "USDA works each day to help educate, train and support the scientists, farmers and ranchers we'll need to provide America's families with the food and energy they need. This partnership with the Department of Education will help us offer even greater opportunities for young people who want to dedicate their lives to agriculture, food and natural resources."
The agreement calls for the Departments to exchange a variety of information and participate in joint activities, including webinars, conferences, outreach materials, and helping each other identify industry-validate standards, assessments, best practices, accreditations, and certifications. The Departments also will work jointly to find and use pathways and career programs of study that can prepare students for rewarding careers related to agriculture, food and natural resources.
Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council -- chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack -- the President is committed to a smarter use of existing Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities. The Council is working break down silos and find areas for better collaboration and improved flexibility in government programs and works closely with local governments, non-profits and private companies to leverage federal support.
Since August 2011, the White House Rural Council has supported a broad spectrum of rural initiatives including a $350 million commitment in SBA funding to rural small businesses over the next 5 years, launching a series of conferences to connect investors with rural start-ups, creating capital marketing teams to pitch federal funding opportunities to private investors interested in making rural investments, making job search information available at 2,800 local USDA offices nationwide, making HHS loans available to help more than 1,300 Critical Access Hospitals recruit additional staff, and helping rural hospitals purchase software and hardware to implement health IT. USDA and Navy have also announced a partnership to advance the use of next generation biofuels in Navy operations.