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Federal Departments Partner To Promote Agricultural Education

Agricultural education programs that promote postsecondary education and careers in that field will be enhanced under a new inter-agency agreement announced Wednesday.

The U.S. Departments of Education and Agriculture plan to exchange more information and host joint activities related to agricultural education. They also will work to find and use programs to better prepare students for careers related to agriculture, food, and natural resources.

"Agricultural education is central to the future of American prosperity," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan in a statement. "For the U.S. economy to continue to rebound and grow, agriculture has to help lead the way."

He also said agricultural education is about jobs in the future and not a backward-looking curriculum to preserve the past.

The announcement came during a White House Rural Council meeting with educators at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

Federal officials touted this agreement as the latest in a series of "historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans" taken by the Obama administration. They cited the creation of the rural council, which is "working [to] break down silos and find areas for better collaboration and improved flexibility in government programs."

Duncan will meet today with Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack and others to host another White House Rural Council roundtable discussion. This one will focus on improving rural economies by training and retraining workers for in-demand careers.

Duncan seems to be on a rural education roll this week. On Tuesday, he gave a keynote address on the role of education in economic development in rural America, and he said his rural education agenda is focused on teachers, capacity, technology, and college access.

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