“Using technology for educational opportunities and medical care can provide services that are often unavailable in rural areas,” Vilsack said. “USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program helps communities better meet the needs of their residents. For example, opioid and other substance misuse disproportionately affect rural areas, and telemedicine is proving to be an effective tool for treating patients when experts otherwise would be unavailable. Hospitals, schools and training centers across the country are successfully using telecommunications to deliver specialized care to area residents, and we are proud to bring these capabilities to 81 additional communities.”
USDA is awarding $23.4 million in grants to support 45 distance learning and 36 telemedicine projects. Nearly $640,000 was awarded to three projects in Wisconsin.
In Chippewa Falls, Wis., the Cooperative Educational Service Agency No. 10 has been selected to receive $134,000 to extend distance learning capabilities to students at 12 rural K-12 schools in west-central Wisconsin. This project builds upon a USDA-funded distance learning network connecting rural schools in Wisconsin with those serving the Kenaitze Indian Tribe in Alaska. The schools share teacher resources and educational content, and provide access to classes from Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire, Wis.
In addition, Lakeshore Technical College will use grant funds to upgrade distance learning capabilities at five college campuses and 30 rural high schools across 17 counties in east central Wisconsin. Riverdale School District in Muscoda, Wis. will be improving academic achievements in seven school districts in Wisconsin. This distance learning project will use video conferencing to link teachers and students at fixed end-user locations.
USDA Rural Development has provided $213 million for 634 DLT projects in rural areas nationwide since 2009. USDA’s Rural Utilities Service, which administers the DLT program, also offers infrastructure programs that bring broadband, safe drinking water and improved wastewater treatment facilities to rural communities.
Since 2009, USDA Rural Development (@USDARD ) has helped bring high-speed Internet access to nearly 6 million rural residents and businesses; invested $31.3 billion in 963 electric projects that have financed more than 185,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines serving 4.6 million rural residents; helped 1.1 million rural residents buy homes; and funded nearly 7,000 community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care facilities. USDA also has invested $11 billion to start or expand 103,000 rural businesses. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/results.
USDA Rural Development’s funding continues to have a dramatic impact on rural communities across Wisconsin. During the past year, USDA Rural Development invested nearly $577 million on essential public facilities, small and emerging businesses, water and sewer systems, and housing opportunities throughout rural Wisconsin. The agency’s investment helped create or retain more than 1,560 jobs; aided 3,000 families in buying their own homes; and assisted more than 80 communities in improving community facilities and upgrading local infrastructure. USDA Rural Development’s mission is to deliver programs in a way that will support increasing economic opportunity and improve the quality of life of rural residents. For more information on USDA Rural Development programs visit USDA’s web site atwww.rd.usda.gov/wi.