MEMPHIS, Mar 24, 2011 -- Soon, students and teachers in Tennessee will have the opportunity to explore how scientists solve engineering and technological problems using nanotechnology to mimic the special traits of animals and plants thanks to the Memphis Zoo NanoZoo Connects! initiative.
The new era of learning possibilities was celebrated today as U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen and USDA Rural Development State Director Bobby Goode joined officials at the Zoo to announce federal funding that makes the initiative possible.
"The NanoZoo Connects! initiative will help so many of our children improve their math, science and technology skills," said Cohen. "I reached out to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help secure this grant because the program has so much promise and will reach so many students across Tennessee."
"If we are going to successfully compete in a rapidly changing 21st Century global economy, our children must have the necessary tools to get ahead. The NanoZoo Connects! Program will help us accomplish such a goal," Cohen said.
According to the Zoo's Director of Education Dr. Helen Beady, a USDA Rural Development (RD) distance learning grant of $500,000 will link the Zoo with schools in Houston, Lauderdale, Lawrence, and Monroe (see list below). "Jackson State University in Mississippi is providing the technical expertise in nanoscience and nanotechnology," she said. "The University is a leader in nano research and will provide interactive presentation materials to be used in the curriculum."
"The President has made rural access to broadband and educational opportunities a priority," Goode said. "USDA Rural Development is proud to partner with the Memphis Zoo to use this technology to create cutting-edge educational opportunities for hundreds of Tennessee students and teachers every year."
Echoing President Obama's recent remarks, Goode concluded, "Working together, we will out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world."
Goode also commended RD telecommunication program field representative Terry Kokinda for working with schools, healthcare providers and the private sector to make Tennessee one of the top recipients of Rural Development DLT grants in the nation.
Memphis Zoo President Dr. Chuck Brady hosted the ceremony and led visitors on a tour of the NanoZoo animals and staff. Others participating in the event included Sen. Lamar Alexander's Representative Matt Varino, Sen. Bob Corker's Representative Nick Kistenmacher, Rep. Marsha Blackburn's Representative Kelley Hankins, Gov. Bill Haslam's Representative Wendy Carter, RD Area Directors Arlisa Armstrong and Harriet Cannon and Specialist Bish Thomas.
The USDA Rural Development distance learning and telemedicine (DLT) grant program increases the range of educational opportunities available to students and teachers, improves access to quality healthcare and opens up new economic opportunities for families, individuals and businesses in rural America. For more information on Rural Development telecommunications programs contact Terry Kokinda at (615) 451-9498 or Terry.Kokinda@wdc.usda.gov.
USDA Rural Development invests in jobs, infrastructure, homeownership and affordable rental housing in rural communities. With supplemental funding through the Recovery Act, the agency assisted more than 1.5 million Tennessee families and businesses with more than $1.3 billion in financial assistance through affordable loans, loan guarantees and grants. More than 86 percent of these investments will be paid back with interest. The rest is at work creating jobs, broadening the local tax base and increasing opportunities in education, training, healthcare and public safety.
More information about the Memphis Zoo is available at www.memphiszoo.org and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/memphiszoo.
For more information on USDA Rural Development programs available in southwest Tennessee contact the Rural Development Area Office in Jackson at 731-668-2091, ext. 2, toll free at 1-800-342-3149 ext. 1495 or visit us at www.rurdev.usda.gov/tn.
Participating Schools include:
• Ethridge Elementary School
• Halls High School
• Halls Middle School
• Houston County High School
• Houston County Middle School
• Lauderdale Middle School
• Loretto High School
• Madisonville Middle School
• Ripley High School
• Sequoyah High School
• South Lawrence Elementary School
• Summertown High School
• Sweetwater High School
• Vonore Middle School
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA,
Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410,
or call (800) 795-3272 TDD (615) 783-1397.