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NEWS RELEASE

USDA Awards More Than $12 Million in Rural Youth Development Grants

Release No. 0347.03
Terry Meisenbach (202) 720-2677

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2003—Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced today the awarding of $2.9 million in rural youth development grants to three national youth organizations, including the National 4-H Council, the National FFA Organization and the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. The grants, authorized by the 2002 Farm Bill, will be used to expand high quality  youth  development programs for you ng people  in rural areas and small towns.

“These grants are an important investment in our 'Leaders of Tomorrow,'” said Veneman. “Supporting youth programs is an important investment for America.”

Secretary Veneman launched a Leaders of Tomorrow initiative two years ago to inspire the next generation of leaders by encouraging community involvement, careers in public service and agriculture education, one of the most dynamic sectors of the economy.

The rural youth development grant includes $1 million for the National FFA Organization to continue its outreach to rural youth and to focus on strategies to recruit, retain and engage rural students in agricultural education from kindergarten through high school. The funds will also be used to provide extensive training and support to rural teachers.

The National 4H Council has been awarded $1 million for educational programs in rural communities to develop effective strategies for overcoming the barriers that limit rural youth's ability to achieve their full potential as productive, positive members of their community and society.

The Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. organization was awarded $861,280 to expand the “Girl Scouting in Rural Communities” initiative to help Girl Scout councils in rural communities adopt and expand youth development opportunities for girls. 

The grants announced today are administered by USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service.  For information on the USDA Leaders of Tomorrow Initiative, www.usda.gov/leadersoftomorrow/.