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4-H Members Invited to Participate in Photo Contest Celebrating USDA's 150th Anniversary

Media Contact: Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2012 – As part of its 150th anniversary celebrations, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) invites youth and adult 4-H members to submit photos that capture the diverse ways young people are engaged in agriculture today and the impact it has on communities. The winning photographs will be prominently displayed within the 4-H/USDA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., during National 4-H Week, October 1-6, 2012.

“As our nation has experienced significant population shifts over the last 150 years with fewer Americans living or working on farms, the visibility surrounding the value of farming has diminished,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). “I urge our 4-H community to participate in this photo contest to remind all Americans that agriculture plays a key role in keeping the United States strong and prosperous.”

Photos can be submitted on www.challenge.gov starting May 31, 2012; the contest ends July 2. Photos should reflect on one of three areas of focus: citizenship in agricultural issues, how agriculture affects healthy living, and the science behind agriculture. All eligible photos will be available for public voting during July 18-August 1. The photos with the most votes will be chosen as finalists. The finalists' entries will then be voted on by a panel of judges consisting of USDA staff who will determine the top winners.

Contestants must be a 4-H member, volunteer, alumnus, or staff and 14 years of age or older. All photographs must be taken by an amateur photographer. Visit www.challenge.gov for official contest rules.

4-H has been an integral part of USDA’s rich history, with the formation of boys’ and girls’ agricultural clubs in 1902 and the establishment of the Cooperative Extension System in 1914. The history of 4-H reflects that young people are early adopters of innovation and can change a community or influence societal changes.

Throughout 2012, USDA will commemorate and celebrate the 150th anniversary of its founding, when President Abraham Lincoln signed into law an act of Congress establishing USDA on May 15, 1862.  USDA will also recognize the July 1862 signing of the Morrill Act to establish public land-grant universities.

In what would be his final annual message to Congress, Lincoln called USDA "The People's Department,” because at that time about half of all Americans lived on farms, compared with only about two percent today. Through our work on food, agriculture, economic development, science, natural resource conservation and a host of issues, USDA continues to fulfill Lincoln's vision—touching the lives of all Americans every day. Though more Americans now live in suburban areas than on farms, our dependence on agriculture remains the same. For instance, agriculture supports 1 of 12 jobs in the United States.

The contest is sponsored by 4-H National Headquarters, which is the premier youth development program of USDA and NIFA. 4-H National Headquarters seeks to promote positive youth development, facilitate learning and engage young people with the efforts of USDA and the land-grant universities to enhance their quality of life. Nearly 6 million young people, ages 5-19, participate in 4-H youth development programs in all 50 states, territories and military installations worldwide.  More information is available at www.national4-hheadquarters.gov.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future.  More information is available at: www.nifa.usda.gov.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).