News Release
Release No.STELPRD4017048
ContactVicki Schurman402-437-5563
Ogallala, Nebraska, Jul 06, 2012 --

@@Nebraska State Director for USDA Rural Development Maxine Moul and staff presented a plaque to the Educational Service Unit (ESU) #16 in Ogallala, Nebraska today in celebration of the distance learning funding of $412,925 awarded from USDA Rural Development.

The funds will be used by ESU #16 in a system-wide upgrade to outfit schools with video conferencing equipment and includes the addition of a telecommunication bridge in the vast, sparsely populated area of Southwest Nebraska. The bridge unit is better able to leverage available bandwidth by scheduling and connecting multiple and sometimes incompatible sites. This allows for richer content to run through the system while maximizing bandwidth expenses, thus saving on connection costs. The project will provide students and others in their communities with expanded curriculum offerings, virtual travel opportunities and career advancement.

“Distance learning is especially important in the sparsely populated areas of the state,” said Moul. “It helps afford rural residents the opportunities that urban areas can offer.”

“Telecommunications offer rural communities the tools needed to overcome vast distances and provides access to educational and cultural opportunities.” said Administrator Marge Beatty, Educational Service Unit 16.

As part of the presentation, Southwest Nebraska Distance Education Network Director, Scott Jones, demonstrated the network. Attendees were given a brief summary of the history, current status, and offerings provided through the network. The presentation also included a demonstration featuring site visitations and a virtual field trip visit to the island of Oahu to visit the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor.

The 2012 grant award is the third USDA Rural Development grant for ESU #16. The latest additions join network wide improvements made in 2006 that included audio, video, and endpoint upgrades to distance education classrooms and the introduction of portable telecommunication centers in 2008. These projects allow students, teachers, and community members to seamlessly participate in experiences and instruction in the most rural areas.

Additionally, distance learning grants were recently awarded to Educational Service Unit 17 of Ainsworth, NE, Mid‐Plains Community College of North Platte, NE, and Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation of Kearney, NE.

For more information on the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program in Nebraska contact Andre Boening at 402-652-3446 or