JACKSON, Tenn., Nov 17, 2011 -- In the spirit of giving during the holiday season, USDA Rural Development (RD) gave 14 students in West Tennessee the opportunity to make a difference in their communities. In partnership with the Ned McWherter Center for Rural Development, these students will receive training to become the next generation of leaders in rural America.
RD State Director Bobby Goode today joined President of the Ned McWherter Center, State Senator Roy Herron, to announce federal support for the Center's 2011/2012 leadership class. The Rural Business Enterprise Grant of $25,000 will be matched by $25,000 in contributions from the center to train West Tennessee college students in public service and leadership, ultimately improving the economic health of the communities they call home.
"The McWherter Scholars are among West Tennessee’s very best students and our future leaders," said Herron. "Every dollar we invest in their education will repay our region multi-fold."
Created in 2008, the Ned McWherter Center for Rural Development selects a small group of college students each year to participate in a demanding leadership program consisting of team building activities culminating in a group project geared to help rural areas overcome economic issues and educate. Participants must have a 3.5 grade point average, be a West Tennessee native, attend a college in West Tennessee and have a strong desire for public service.
"It is an honor for my family to be associated with such an outstanding program that develops the future leaders of our state," said Michael R. McWherter, son of the late Ned McWherter. "The center’s administration understands the importance of education and training in the continued efforts to improve the lives of Tennesseans and with their help, the McWherter Scholars Program will brighten the future of Tennessee for years to come."
"Governor McWherter was a visionary leader who saw the value in educating the future leaders of this country," said Goode. "The Ned McWherter Center is his legacy, providing opportunity and challenge to the students ultimately affecting our rural communities in a positive way."
The students participating in the Fall 2011 class are Whitney Pirtle of Enville, Alyssa Shirley of Ramer, Conor Luck of Halls, Merri Beth Byrd of Mason, Jonathan Nadasky of Milan, Kirby Lewis of Lexington, Abbie Fuqua of Martin, Colby Prosser of Henry, Kimberly Jerrfies of Dyersburg, Rodney Stanback, Jr. of Jackson, Ernicka Willis of Jackson, Cishley Harper of Humboldt, Bryant Stewart of Jackson and Nicholas Grayson of Jackson. The schools represented by this class of scholars include Freed-Hardeman, Dyersburg State Community College, Union University, University of Tennessee Martin, Bethel and Lane.
Others participating in the event included Sen. Lamar Alexander’s Representative Matt Varino, Rep. Stephen Fincher’s Representative Scott Golden, State Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, RD Area Director Harriet Cannon and RD Area Specialist Van Wylie.
Rural Development's rural business grant programs provide assistance to local governments and non-profit organizations that assist small businesses, develop local business infrastructure, provide job training, conduct feasibility studies or provide technical assistance to businesses and community leaders.
USDA Rural Development invests in jobs, infrastructure, homeownership and affordable rental housing in rural communities. Last year the agency assisted tens of thousands of Tennessee families and businesses, investing more than $737 million through affordable loans, loan guarantees and grants.
For more information on Rural Development programs available in West Tennessee contact the Rural Development Area Office in Union City at 731-885-6480 ext. 4, toll free at 800-342-3149 ext. 1497 or visit us online at www.rurdev.usda.gov/tn.
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