U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

USDA to Host Regional Listening Sessions to Increase Rural Access to STEM Education

Jay Fletcher
Release Date

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that USDA is hosting a series of listening sessions to help address the shortage of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in rural communities.

“USDA recognizes that STEM skills are becoming universally more important for all rural jobs and enterprises, particularly for the technology-oriented future of America’s workforce,” Hazlett said. “Having greater participation in STEM education by students in rural communities will improve the country’s overall readiness for the economy of the future.”

Beginning this month, state directors will convene regional listening sessions to bring together stakeholders in four states to raise awareness on how the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program can promote rural access to STEM education.

Listening sessions will be held:

  • March 20 in Coalinga, Calif., at West Hills Community College
  • March 22 in Macon, Ga., at Middle Georgia Regional Commission
  • April 3 in Champaign, Ill., at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • April 4 in Hudson, N.Y., at Columbia-Greene Community College

Stakeholders interested in attending any of these sessions should direct inquiries to DLTInfo@wdc.usda.gov.

The FY 2017 appropriations bill signed by President Donald J. Trump on May 5, 2017, directed USDA through the Telecommunications Program to develop an implementation plan for increasing rural access to education in STEM fields. USDA is working with the National Science Foundation, the Department of Education and other federal agencies to promote access to STEM across the country.

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.

To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.