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USDA Helps Rural Communities Thrive With Health, Safety Outreach

WASHINGTON, D.C. Nov. 13, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced support for health education projects for individuals and families living in rural areas. Funding is made through NIFA’s Rural Health and Safety Education (RHSE) Competitive Grant Program.

“Cooperative Extension is a key partner in supporting the health of rural communities,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “Through these investments, we help extension agents and land-grant universities reach rural communities with evidence-based education that can help people improve their health and quality of life.”

The Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Grant Program seeks to address the needs of rural Americans through individual and family health education programs delivered via cooperative extension. The program supports effective, evidence-based, non-formal education programs and services informed by the human, social, and behavioral sciences to promote and enhance rural health, strengthen economic vitality and, in the long run, mitigate the effects of rural poverty. Projects are funded to develop or implement individual and family health education programs that help rural communities address significant health issues. The priority is prevention and reduction of opioid abuse. Chronic disease prevention and management is also an area of focus.

The latest grants include a project in which the Arkansas Agricultural Extension Service will partner with a network of health providers and volunteers to develop complementary and alternative pain management interventions to prevent opioid abuse among rural residents of Arkansas. A Virginia Polytechnic Institute Cooperative Extension team seeks to scale up two evidence-based opioid prevention approaches for youth and hospital patient outreach programs.

Overall, nine grants totaling $2.8 million were awarded in FY2017. They are:

  • University of Arkansas Agricultural Extension Service, Little Rock, Arkansas, $321,912
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, $318,575
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, $322,000
  • Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, $321,946
  • Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, $317,383
  • Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi, $310,183
  • North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, $322,000
  • Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, $322,000
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute Cooperative Extension, Blacksburg, Virginia, $321,638

More information on these projects is available on the NIFA website.


Previously funded projects include an Iowa State University project that offered culturally responsive diabetes education to Latinos residing in rural communities of Iowa. Significant improvements were identified in increasing diabetes knowledge, increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, reducing high fat foods, and engaging in healthy lifestyle changes. Through a Mississippi State University project, researchers used a virtual platform to bring accurate, culturally relevant information to low-income, first-time teen and young mothers. A series of nine online teen parenting education videos were developed based on research and stakeholder input from the target population.

NIFA’s mission is to invest in and advance agricultural research, education, and extension to solve societal challenges. NIFA’s investments in transformative science directly support the long-term prosperity and global preeminence of U.S. agriculture. To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural sciences, visit, sign up for updates, and follow us on Twitter @USDA_NIFA, #NIFAImpacts.

USDA is an equal opportunity lender, provider, and employer.

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