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NEWS RELEASE

USDA Joins National Youth Service Day Activity and Promotes Efforts to Educate Youth About Serving Our Global Community

Veneman Celebrates National Youth Service Day with Local High School Students at Food Bank in Maryland

Marti Asner (202) 720-8188

WASHINGTON, April 26, 2002-Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is joining with other organizations to educate youth about how they can contribute to the global community through science and technology careers and practicing sustainable development in their own communities.

Veneman made the announcement during a visit to the Manna Food Center in Rockville, Md., where she and Congresswoman Connie Morella were joined by high school students from Montgomery County, Maryland and Washington D.C. who volunteered to box apples for distribution to area families in need. Students participating as part of this National Youth Service Day event represented several metropolitan Washington high schools, including Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Wheaton, MD, Damascus High School in Damascus, MD, Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart of Rockville, MD and St. Anselm's Abbey School in Washington, D.C. The product that was packed for needy families was donated by Dickie Brothers Orchard of Roseland, Virginia, and coordinated through the Washington Area Gleaning Network.

"I am delighted to join Rep. Connie Morella and some of her young constituents who are responding to President Bush's call to perform 4,000 hours of community service over the course of a lifetime," said Veneman." Volunteering promotes good citizenship, responsibility and builds on the generous spirit of our nation."

As part of the department's recognition of National Youth Service Day, USDA announced it's sponsorship of a worldwide project, called My Community, Our Earth (MyCOE) that encourages students to create projects to show how their changing communities can be more sustainable. The results of the project will be featured at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa Aug. 26 - Sept. 4, 2002.

"This is a wonderful opportunity to prepare our future leaders and to make sustainable development a reality," said Veneman. " Education is the key to empowering the youth of today to make informed choices about sustaining the resources to feed and clothe the global population in the future."

The goal of MyCOE is to help high school and college students focus on the relationship between society, economics and the environment. Students will use maps and geographic information systems to identify patterns and trends and find solutions to agricultural challenges such as producing enough food to feed a growing world population, deforestation, rural development, maintaining a supply of fresh water, biodiversity, pollution, disease issues and climate change.

Mentors with expertise in sustainable development, environment, economics, social and geographic sciences and information systems will be recruited from around the world. To find students and mentors, MyCOE will also tap USDA's vast network of forestry schools, land-grant universities and colleges, county extension offices, agricultural research laboratories, resource conservation and development service centers and soil and water conservation districts.

In addition to USDA, other MyCOE sponsors include the Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, Inter-American Development Bank, and Earthscape. The organizing partners of the MyCOE project include the National Geographic Society, the Association of American Geographers, and the United Nations Environment Programme. For more information about how to participate in MyCOE, visit http://www.geography.org/sustainable/.

Note: For more information about USDA activities related to MyCOE, contact Greg Crosby, Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, at (202) 401-6070 or gcrosby@reeusda.gov or Peggy Harwood, Forest Service, at (202) 205-0877 or pharwood@fs.fed.us. To register as a participant or mentor contact the MyCOE project, 1710 Sixteenth Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20009-3198 or call (202) 667-2229.