Land-grant university Cooperative Extension Services can be valuable partners for rural schools, particularly in distant and remote areas where other partnerships are hard to come by.
During a recent webinar, School Improvement Grant (SIG) administrators in state education departments learned more about how the National 4-H and Cooperative Extension programs supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture can help with the national effort to turnaround low-performing schools and end the dropout crisis.
During the webinar, the passion and commitment of Extension directors was evident. North Carolina’s Marshall Smith described how he connects rural teachers and students with the latest research and resources at North Carolina State University. He and other Extension directors throughout the nation are excited by a new partnership that enables them to aggressively leverage the power of the knowledge being developed by their land-grant universities to have greater impact on rural schools.
At the National 4-H Conference in April, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced their shared commitment to support rural school turnarounds and provide solutions to keep students engaged in school.
The Obama Administration has provided unprecedented resources in the form of $4 billion in School Improvement Grants to help states turn around their lowest performing schools, but it recognizes that schools cannot accomplish this difficult work alone. The federal government is not only working with states, but is also engaging with nonprofit and community-based partners to help build school capacity and add programming where needed.
Understanding that nonprofit and community partnerships are limited or nonexistent in some distant and remote rural areas, the Education and Agriculture departments are working together to increase awareness among state education agencies and their SIG schools about resources available through the national 4-H and land-grant university Cooperative Extension programs.
The goal is to increase awareness of the ways 4-H and the Extensions can partner with distant and remote rural schools to create programs that are specific to each school community’s needs, including financial literacy, youth entrepreneurship, STEM and science literacy programs, community engagement, parenting, healthy living, food and nutrition, and other programs that bridge formal and nonformal learning experiences.
To learn more, connect to the ED-USDA webinar materials (.doc).