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USDA Observances

Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Please join the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights and Asian Pacific American Network in Agriculture (APANA) in the celebration of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Please review the White House 2022 Presidential Proclamation on Asian American, Native Hawaiian, And Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Each year in May, APANA commemorates the achievements, contributions, and enduring public service for American agriculture of AA, NH, and PIs in USDA.

Agency

OBSERVANCE DETAILS

FPAC

May 11, 2022

1:00 p.m. EST

(AGENCY ONLY)

Event/Topic: “Chef Edward Lee on Cultures and Cuisines”

Description: Renowned Chef and Restaurateur, Edward Lee, will provide a cooking demonstration of an Asian inspired dish and speak on the importance of diversity and his culture.

Platform: Video through AgLearn

POC: Andy Pham @ andy.pham@usda.gov

RD

National Office

May 11, 2022

3:00 P.M. EST

(AGENCY ONLY and up to 100 Non-RD Employees)

Event/Topic: Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AANHPIHM); Fireside Chat with Megha Hamal.

Description: Special guest, Megha Hamal, a distinguished member of the AANHPI Community, will discuss being the Communications Manager of the Illinois Power Agency (IPA). Ms. Hamal will highlight the role of collaboration in her responsibilities, which include developing and implementing the IPA’s strategic communication plan, overseeing, and managing the IPA’s brand identity and brand reputation across all communication channels.

Platform: Microsoft Teams Live

POC: Kelli Rivera @ kelli.rivera@usda.gov; 831-227-2918

FSIS

May 17, 2022

1:00 P.M. EST

(AGENCY ONLY)

Event/Topic: "Advancing Leaders through Collaboration"

Description: Opening remarks will be provided by Natalie Duncan, Deputy Assistant Administrator of Office of Management.  The speaker for the event will be Dr. Julie Park - Associate Professor of Sociology and the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Maryland, College Park.

POC: Damali Carr @ damali.carr@usda.gov

FNS

May 18, 2022

1:00 p.m. EST

(AGENCY ONLY)

Event/Topic: "Advancing Leaders through Collaboration"

Description: USDA-FNS will host a questions and answers on our theme: "Advancing Leaders through Collaboration" Our guest speakers are U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth and Deputy Under Secretary of Marketing and Regulatory Programs

Platform: Microsoft Teams

POC: Fred Cheng @ frederick.cheng@usda.gov

AMS

May 18, 2022

1:00 P.M. EST

(AGENCY ONLY)

 

Event/Topic: “Advancing Leaders Through Collaboration”

Description: Join Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Strategic Talent Recruitment, Inclusive Diversity & Engagement (STRIDE) Executive Director Sharon M. Wong for a conversation about how her office is creating inclusive workplaces at DHS through dialogue, constructive discomfort, and intradepartmental collaboration.  She will provide an overview of STRIDE’s conception and programmatic objectives. In honor AANHPIHM, Executive Director Wong will highlight how recognizing AA and NHPIs experiences and narratives enrich our nation’s intersectional history.

POC: Yvette Delgado @ yvette.torresdelgado@usda.gov

FPAC

May 18, 2022

3:00 P.M. EST

(AGENCY ONLY)

Event/Topic: “People of Asia and Oceania: A Unique Partnership”

Description: NRCS employees Wallace Jennings and Kurencio Ngowakl will host a live observance on May 18th to discuss Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander history, culture, and conservation practices. Key topics will include the importance and distinction between AA and NHPIs, a breakdown of Oceania and the three major island groups, and FPAC’s role in the Pacific Islands.

POC: Andy Pham @ andy.pham@usda.gov

OASCR & APANA

May 19, 2022

1:00 P.M. EST

(DEPARTMENT-WIDE)

Theme: “Connecting and Healing: Asian Pacific American Cuisine – More than Just Comfort Food”

Description: Each year in May, the Asian Pacific American Network in Agriculture (APANA) commemorates the achievements, contributions, and enduring public service for American agriculture of AA and NHPI individuals in USDA. This year’s virtual program will highlight connecting and healing qualities of Asian Pacific American cuisine.

Guest speakers Founder-Cultural Curator Susan Qin and Historian-Scholar Yuxuan Cai from Chinese Street Market DC will share about the diversity of Asian Pacific American food within broader cultural context to other world regions.

POC: Jane Stutheit @ jane.stutheit@usda.gov

RD

NATIONAL OFFICE

May 19, 2022

2:00 P.M. EST

(AGENCY ONLY)

Event/Topic: Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AANHPIHM) Table Talk

Description: Six RD employees will participate as Table Talk guests and share their experiences on how collaboration has advanced leaders in the AANHPI Community. Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small will host the Table Talk event.

POC: Kelli Rivera @ kelli.rivera@usda.gov; 831-227-2918

OASCR & FAPAC

May 25, 2022

9:30 A.M. EST

(DEPARTMENT-WIDE)

Event/Topic: Ceremonial Planting of the Calamondin Tree

Description: The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights and the Federal Asian Pacific American Council – USDA Chapter (FAPAC) are hosting an in-person event at USDA Headquarters, in the People’s Garden. We will then invite attendees to join us for light refreshments in the Whitten Patio.

Platform: In-Person

Location: USDA Headquarters @ The People’s Garden

POC: Fahmida Chhipa @ fahmida.chhipa@usda.gov

FPAC

May 25, 2022

1:00 P.M. EST

(AGENCY ONLY)

Event/Topic: “Cultivating Togetherness through Peace, Food, and Wellness”

Description: A Virtual Rhythmic Yoga and Meditation session by Yogi Amaresh Rajaratnum. This session will explore the history and importance of Yoga for health and wellness. The presentation will conclude with a rhythmic yoga demonstration followed by a meditation technique.

Platform: Video via AgLearn

POC: Andy Pham @ andy.pham@usda.gov

Women History Month, March 2022

Dear USDA colleagues,

In 1987, the U.S. Congress designated and observed the month of March as Women’s History Month to focus on the overlooked and undervalued role of American women in history including multicultural and marginalized groups. At USDA, we celebrate Women’s History Month by showcasing the accomplishments of women to our culture, and society. We draw strength and inspiration from the remarkable women that came before us, who contributed to the fabric of our nation, and who today continue to make ripples of change and progress to make us a more perfect union. Throughout the month and year, an emphasis will be placed on women’s contributions to our shared history while also recognizing and acknowledging the impact and influence women have on our daily lives. We will focus on our commitments to building a modern workplace that advances diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility and that supports women leaders at all rungs of our organization. We will lift the voices and experiences of women, including transgender women, in the workplace, address challenges, and ensure the ideas, best practices and recommendations to help make USDA the best place to work. We will study our data and encourage conversations about where we need to make more progress and we will continue to work to ensure it is a safe environment – free from bias, discrimination, harassment, and workplace violence.

The vital role that women’s dreams and accomplishments play in our lives can be honored in countless ways. Recognizing the achievements of women in all facets of life – science, community, government, literature, art, sports, medicine – through books such as “Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World”, “My Own Words,” and “Hidden Figures,” or documentaries like “Equal Means Equal” and “Patsy Mink: Ahead of the Majority” that portray activists, doers, and thinkers of the world are just some of the ways in which we can learn about women that have come before us. Last fall, the Biden-Harris Administration released the Fact Sheet: National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality. We encourage you to review it and create space within your teams to consider ways you can advance gender equity and equality. USDA is excited to lead on gender equity and equality by: supporting women-owned businesses; supporting women in agriculture and forestry; improving and promoting equitable access to nutrition assistance; increasing and promoting women participation in agricultural STEM fields; and recruiting more young and diverse talent from minority serving institutions and community colleges through internships.

This year, the Deputy Secretary as well as Agency leaders will be hosting a series of events throughout Women’s History Month. Among these events will be a live, interactive, and virtual Fireside Chat where participants will engage in discussions of their experiences in Agricultural science, forestry, space, economics, trade, and public health with an emphasis on triumphs, overcoming impediments, healing, and hope. The Deputy Secretary starts it off TODAY, at 2 p.m. ET, in an Instagram live event with Kendall Rae Johnson, an inspiring young African American producer who at six year old is Georgia’s youngest certified farmer.

As we celebrate the women who have come before us and that continue to blaze the trail of innovation, excellence, and growth, we have miles to go before the playing field is level. There are still so many firsts – like the historic nomination of judge Kentaji Brown Jackson to the country’s highest court, that we should celebrate, yet also hold ourselves to higher standard in that these actions are no longer the exception but the norm. During Women’s History Month, as we honor the accomplished and visionary women who have helped build our country, let us pay tribute to the trailblazers from the recent and distant past for daring to envision a future of expanded opportunity and endless possibilities for all women and girls.

Sincerely,

Secretary Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Bronaugh

Women History Month Events

The USDA welcomes Women’s History Month, a celebration to recognize the significant contributions that Women have made in our nation’s history. The USDA will honor the persons that identifies as Females with a month long celebrate and activities throughout the Department. This year, the National Women’s History Alliance has set the 2022 Theme as:

Providing Healing, Promoting Hope: A tribute to the ceaseless work of caregivers and frontline workers during the ongoing pandemic and a recognition of the thousands of ways that women of all cultures have provided both healing and hope throughout history.

 

Additional Suggested Learning Resources:

Women in the Workplace 2021: The State of Women in Corporate America

Advancing Gender Equity as You Lead out of the Pandemic (hbr.org)

Gender - HBR

National-Strategy-on-Gender-Equity-and-Equality.pdf (whitehouse.gov)

National Women's History Museum (womenshistory.org)

AgLearn Women’s History Month resources

 

 

 

A Proclamation on National Black History Month, 2022

 

Black History Month

USDA Colleagues,

The month of February marks Black History Month, a time when our country celebrates the generations of Black Americans whose courage, advocacy and patriotism have enriched our communities and strengthened our country. People like George Washington Carver, John W. Mitchell, Percy Lavon Julian, Henry Blair, and John W. Boyd, Jr. all had major roles in shaping our food systems and rural economies. In honoring Black trailblazers and change-makers, we gain inspiration for the work that remains to fulfill our sacred responsibility to form a more perfect union. This is a particularly poignant topic because our agricultural landscape has been shaped by a history of slavery and structural racism, and recent years have helped make a great portion of our nation aware of just how much the deck was stacked against Black people, including Black agriculturalists — from land ownership, to education, to access to funding and other resources.

Currently 95 percent of Black farmers are in the south, where they comprise only 6 percent of the total number of registered farmers. Over the years the Black farmer has endured discrimination with regard to race, formal education, lending practices from banks and agriculture agencies and in research and technology. The rate at which farm ownership by Black Americans is declining is a major concern. Black farmers have had an uncertain past with the denial of loans and government assistance; however, times are changing.

The USDA now has effective policies in place to prohibit discrimination in all programs and activities based on race, creed, or color and increase access and inclusion in programs and services. These policies are only as effective as the people who shape, implement, and enforce them. Today’s leaders continue to build on the legacies of our forebears. Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Monica Rainge, Senior Advisor for Racial Equity Dr. Dewayne Goldmon, ARS Administrator Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, Forest Service Chief Randy Moore, NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer, Director of Nutrition Security and Health Equity for the Food and Nutrition Service Dr. Sara Bleich, and Senior Advisor Dr. Gregory Parham, and many more are dedicated to ensuring equity of opportunity throughout our programs and services.

Inspired by the Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, and Executive Order on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce, we prioritize creating a culture of inclusion, advancing equity, recruiting and hiring diverse talent, supporting our employees, and leading with values. It is a responsibility that we take seriously, and one that I ask all of you to consider as you make hiring decisions, invest in the development of your workforce, or design programs and policies across the full breadth of USDA that will lift up all people and not just some. One example of our serious commitment to creating long-lasting change is the creation of the USDA Equity Commission.

In honor of Black History Month, we join the President and all Americans in recognizing the innumerable contributions, beautiful legacy, and bright future of Black Americans. Throughout the month, USDA will highlight on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, black Americans, including women, veterans, and disabled Americans who are building upon the work of our Agricultural trailblazers with the help and support of USDA programs and services, as well as create learning and dialogue opportunities across our organization. Our celebration will not end on February 28, and we will continue to value and support the rich and substantive contributions of Black Americans in all our mission areas for many years to come.

 

- Secretary Vilsack

 

USDA: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service

Dear USDA colleagues,


Next Monday, January 17, we honor and reflect on our commitment and shared history towards advancing civil rights for all Americans as we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s enduring legacy and influence. Year-round, and especially during this time, we consider the ways in which we as a nation, an organization, and as individuals can be ever-more inclusive and just. At USDA, we dedicate ourselves to advancing our values of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in all we do. In our service to each other and the public, we see, hear, and value all people and treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve.
Notwithstanding how far we’ve come with exploring our history, reconciling our truths, and facing inequities and injustices, we recognize the deep and persistent systemic and institutional barriers to equal access throughout our governance systems.
Our work together over the coming years will ensure the trust of those who work at USDA and those who rely on and seek our programs and services. As stated in our First Friday message this past week, advancing racial justice, equity, and opportunity is central to the work ahead. This month we will announce the members of the first-ever USDA Equity Commission. The Equity Commission will provide recommendations to the Secretary on policies, programs, and actions needed to achieve justice and equity, including strengthening accountability at USDA. This is only one example of the ways in which USDA is helping make significant strides in ensuring the arc of the moral universe continues to bend towards justice.
Dr. King, as well as many other global leaders, emphasized the value of service in leadership, specifically serving in the form of assistance, empowerment, and support. As he said, “Somewhere along the way, we must learn that there is nothing greater than to do something for others.” This year’s theme “It Starts with Me,” honors that spirit.
On Monday, we encourage each of you to consider honoring and celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. through service. We challenge you to:
• Volunteer
• Serve
• Lead
There is no dispute that the last two years have drastically changed our lives and impacted our relationships. Isolation has forced us to slow down and examine our own priorities, personal goals, and desires. It has also shown us the tremendous generosity and compassion our USDA community has – whether through Feds Feeds Families, the Combined Federal Campaign, or in everyday actions with one another and our communities. This Monday, as you honor Dr. King’s contributions, we hope you consider serving, volunteering, or consider matching your passion with the people’s needs and community initiatives. Here are some suggested organizations to help you get started in your search:
• Despite pandemic restrictions, traditional nonprofit organizations like Feeding America help to collect and distribute meals to millions of families in need through local food pantries and other programs. • AmeriCorps will be hosting an official MLK Day of Service, along with other opportunities to serve.
• Nonprofits, such as Teach for America, have become more creative by using virtual services in addition to traditional volunteering.
• Platforms like VolunteerMatch have reinvented traditional volunteering by embracing online practices to make their programs virtual and more safely distanced.
• The USDA’s Blacks in Government (BIG) George Washington Carver Chapter (GWCC) recommends volunteering at the Capital Area Food Bank.
In addition to these, there are innumerable organizations that provide opportunity to improve individual lives and change communities, states, the nation, and the world. Find the ones that match your values and passion.
As always, we are grateful for your time and commitment to ensuring a fair and inclusive workforce, where everyone is welcomed, supported, and valued. We hope you and your loved ones take this opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the importance of community, compassion, empathy and hope.
Sincerely,
Secretary Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Bronaugh