CAHS Hosted the Historic Community Based Organization (CBO) Forum on Rural Prosperity
September 9 – On August 13th, the College of Agriculture and Human Sciences (CAHS) hosted the historic Community Based Organization (CBO) Forum on Rural Prosperity. With this three way partnership with USDA, CBOs, and the CAHS, the forum came about as a follow-up to the USDA Rural Prosperity Summit that was held in Houston. The goal is to work together to find locally driven solutions to the many challenges that rural and under-served communities face, in an effort to “foster hope and opportunity, wealth creation, and asset building.”
The CBO is working with CAHS and the Cooperative Extension Program Agriculture and Natural Resources unit to advance agriculture through the 2501 Grant Partnership to provide Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers. Funds from this grant supports projects and activities that helps to increase participation of Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers in USDA programs and services, with the goal of generating hope, build assets and wealth creation to foster rural prosperity.
Over 20 people attended the forum including all AgNR unit Program Specialists and members from the three CBOs, 100 Ranchers, Landowners Association of Texas, and Pineywoods Small Farmers, Ranchers & Landowners of Texas. Also in attendance was special guest Mrs. Jacqueline Davis-Slay, Deputy Director of the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement. She leads the Higher Education Institution Division which includes the 1890 Universities, 1994 Tribal Colleges and the Hispanic Service Institutions. Her engagement is critical and essential to sustaining the USDA/1890 Partnership. Her colleague, Ms. Ruby De La Garza, Education Specialist for the Hispanic Serving Institution National Program at the Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement, also participated in the forum.
The event started with a welcome from the Dean and Director of Land Grant Programs Dr. Gerard D’Souza who shared what he hopes to achieve with the joint partnership of all groups involved. “It is my goal as the leader of the college, to engage in partnerships that are mutually beneficial. In many cases, our mission overlaps in very fundamental ways, and that is true with the CBOs in particular. It’s important that we focus on what needs be done to enhance income opportunities for our farmers and ranchers, particularly against the backdrop of urbanization, and increased population.” The welcome was followed by presentations from the CBOs, and Mrs. Davis-Slay. The Dean also gave an update of the college and CEP Community and Economic Development unit Program Leader Jimmy Henry introduced the new Program Leader Dr. Clarence Bunch. In the afternoon, there was an open discussion on rural prosperity areas, partnerships and collaborations, and strategic planning. The group went on to discuss the impact CBOs bring to the communities they serve. CBOs also shared the ways they will contribute to this partnership to ensure consistent collaboration between the university and community groups.
The success of this meeting will keep CAHS on a path of community outreach, which has the potential of garnering more students to the university and a renewed focus on the importance of agriculture. The forum was organized and coordinated by Horace Hodge, USDA/1890 Program Liaison, Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement, 100 Ranchers President Kim Ratcliff, and AgNR Unit Program Specialist Dr. Kesha Henry. Ratcliff’s dedication to the CBOs is consistently evident by the time and hard work she puts in to making events such as the forum a success. She has had a major impact on the collective efforts and continues to make strides in building partnerships and collaborations in the Texas agriculture community.
This work was supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, 1890 Extension Formula Program projects under Section 1444.
USDA/ 1890 Program Liaison