News Release
Release No.STELPRD4016745
Temple, Texas, Jun 13, 2012 --

@@Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced funding for 52 distance learning and telemedicine projects that will increase access to health care and enhance educational opportunities in 29 states.

"Our rural communities need access to the latest educational and health care services to compete in the 21st Century," Vilsack said." The funding I am announcing today for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program will help ensure that rural citizens receive the same high-level, specialized medical care and educational services as enjoyed by their fellow citizens in urban areas."

"Schools and health care systems in rural Texas have increasingly tighter budgets each year. Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants are powerful tools for providing expanded educational and medical opportunities which otherwise may be unavailable to students and residents of rural communities," said Paco Valentin, USDA Rural Development State Director of Texas.

The projects announced total $14 million and include 19 distance learning projects, 32 telemedicine projects and one combined project. All will benefit rural counties. Nearly half of the total funding – 45 percent – will go to counties where the minority population is greater than 30 percent. Another 18 percent of this funding will benefit areas where the Native American population exceeds 30 percent.

Ranger College will receive a $322,504 grant to purchase a distance learning system that will address the educational and economic needs for 6,500 high school students in Brown, Eastland, Young and Erath Counties, located in Central Texas. With this new system, Ranger College will work directly with high school sites to deliver dual credit courses as well as other courses and degrees currently unavailable. This funding will provide resources to the college will extend into high school classrooms via distance learning connections and benefit numerous rural students and teachers.

Since taking office, the Obama 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 using Federal resources more efficiently to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.

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 active portfolio of more than $165 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 areas.