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Engaging Rural Communities Through State Fairs Across the Country

Melody Barnes, Director of the Domestic Policy Council, looks back at the Administration's visits to state fairs across the country, including an interactive map.

Over the past three months, senior leaders from the Administration have been visiting state fairs across the country to meet fair visitors and rural leaders and discuss some of the ways that the Obama Administration is working to support rural communities.  Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, and CPSC Chair Inez Tenenbaum are only a handful of the leaders who traveled around the country to enjoy the sites of the state fairs, meet 4-H and FFA young leaders, and discuss the ways that their agencies are working to support the Administration’s vision for keeping rural America strong.     

During these visits, we heard firsthand how the economic downturn has created challenges in rural America as well as how rural communities are responding to the downturn by leading the charge on a number of important national priorities, such as increasing the production of renewable energy and reducing our dependence on foreign oil, creating and expanding small businesses, and contributing talent and energy to national service.  Members of the Cabinet and other senior officials learned about the importance of agriculture education and supporting the development of the next generation of farmers and ranchers, talked about the Obama Administration’s commitment to making college more affordable and accessible for all students, and discussed the significant investments that are being made in rural communities thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The steps that the Administration has taken over the past two years to support rural communities – investing in critical rural infrastructure and education, improving access to affordable health care, reforming our financial regulatory systems, promoting biofuels and other renewable energy, and expanding exports, to name a few – are critical building blocks in our effort to keep America’s rural communities strong and vibrant. 

See a map below of all the fairs Administration officials visited, and scroll over it for details.


Melody Barnes is Director of the Domestic Policy Council