Des Moines, IA, Jul 10, 2011 -- Earlier this week, Linda Barnes of Melbourne, IA was at the White House for a meeting she was asked to participate in with President Obama, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the President's Domestic Policy Adviser Melody Barnes and leaders from rural communities across the country for the White House Rural Champions of Change event.
Barnes is one of several people from the country that were invited to share their ideas directly with the Obama Administration about how to strengthen rural communities and promote economic growth.
“It was extremely heartening to think there are so many really amazing things going on and to hear from all these unsung heroes. I felt very privileged to be among them,” said Barnes of the experience.
Barnes was selected to represent community colleges and their potential to make a difference in rural America. She is a professor of biology at the Marshalltown Community College and runs an organic farm with her husband. She founded the Sustainable and Entrepreneurial Agriculture Program at MCC which is the first associate degree program in sustainable agriculture in the Midwest. The program focuses on improving attitudes related to sustainable agriculture due to their practical, hands-on focus and local connections.
This week the White House Champions of Change focus is on farmers, ranchers and rural residents who are making a positive impact in their communities. Champions of Change is a White House initiative that recognizes ordinary Americans who are accomplishing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world. The administration acknowledges that the best ideas come directly from the American people, and on a weekly basis a Champions of Change roundtable is held to spotlight some of the top ideas that are making change a reality across the country.
– MORE –
The week’s event is part of a series of meetings that are being held across the country this summer as part of the White House Rural Council (WHRC) and the White House Business Council to coordinate programs across government and encourage public-private partnerships to improve economic conditions, quality of life and create jobs in rural communities.
In June, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the first WHRC chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The Council will provide recommendations for investment in rural areas and will coordinate Federal engagement with a variety of rural stakeholders, including agricultural organizations, small businesses, and state, local, and tribal governments.
Since taking office, President Obama’s Administration has taken significant steps to improve the lives of rural Americans and has provided broad support for rural communities. The Obama Administration has set goals of modernizing infrastructure by providing broadband access to 10 million Americans, expanding educational opportunities for students in rural areas, and providing affordable health care. In the long term, these unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America’s rural communities are repopulating, self-sustaining, and thriving economically.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $150 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.
Contact USDA Rural Development
For more information about finance programs through USDA Rural Development, please call the office located nearest you.
USDA Rural Development has 11 offices across the state to serve the 1.7 million Iowans living in rural communities. Office locations include a State Office in Des Moines, along with Area Offices in Albia, Atlantic, Humboldt, Indianola, Iowa Falls, Le Mars, Mount Pleasant, Storm Lake, Tipton and Waverly.
Further information on programs available through USDA Rural Development is available by visiting the agency’s web site at www.rurdev.usda.gov/ia.