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NEWS RELEASE

USDA Announces Awards for Geospatial Projects

USDA Contact:
Julie Quick (202) 720-4623
NASA Contact: Gretchen Cook-Anderson (202) 358-0836

Release No. 0377.04

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2004- Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman today announced that six universities have been awarded grants totaling $980,769 to conduct geospatial extension projects The grants are supported by a USDA/NASA agreement that encourages the application of NASA's advanced information systems to agricultural production and resource management.

"Education in the use of geographic information systems and other advanced technologies is critical in today's agricultural economy if we are to remain competitive and protect our natural resources for future generations," said Veneman.

Three of the universities will receive funds to hire new geospatial extension specialists, and the other three will receive funds to continue projects to improve decision-support education and workforce development in geospatial technologies.

"We are pleased to be a part of this worthwhile effort which will benefit all Americans," said NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe. "NASA's unique ability to view the Earth from space will enhance our ability to predict climate, weather, and natural hazards, as well as to mitigate and assess the effects of natural and human-induced disasters. The information we provide will allow our research partners to make critical, accurate, and timely decisions."

USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), NASA's Science Mission Directorate and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) worked together to develop the projects, manage the application and selection process, and provide the funding for the grants.

The six grants were awarded to the following institutions:

The University of Missouri (Columbia, Mo.), $280,301, for "The Missouri Geospatial Extension Specialist Program," to improve and extend decision support tools for water management, agricultural efficiency, ecological forecasting, in cooperation with a variety of state partners."

The University of Nebraska at Omaha, $46,717, for "Nebraska NativeGEM (Geospatial Extension Model)," to improve the decision support systems, education, and workforce development of local users, with a focus on Native American tribes in Nebraska.

The University of New Hampshire (Durham, N.H.), $46,712, for "MapCorps," to implement a geospatial technology training and resources center to enhance the geospatial technology capability in the community, specifically targeting youth groups.

The University of Rhode Island (Kingston, R.I.), $280,061, for "Geospatial Information in Rhode Island: Making a Difference in Sustainable Resource Management," focusing on education and workforce development for resource and land management.

Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas), $280,301, for "The Texas Geospatial Extension Program," to increase geospatial literacy in elementary schools, and improve decision support tools for invasive species and land fragmentation, among other critical issues, across Texas.

Utah State University (Logan, Utah), $46,677, for "'On-Target' Fellowship Program: Empowering Agents of Change," for training of county extension agents and educators in use of geographic information and existing decision support tools sponsored by USDA and NASA and inject that expertise into the state and local programs.