(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) – a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee – announced today with U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Chris Pappas (NH-01) that the University of New Hampshire was awarded a $685,000 federal grant to bolster workforce training for rural educators impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant invests in UNH’s “4-H Northeast Collaborative Closing the Gap” program and was awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), which Senator Shaheen fights to bolster resources for each year in government funding legislation.
“The COVID-19 crisis exposed existing problems in our communities, many of them felt most severely in our rural and underserved areas that have long struggled with connectivity and access to adequate resources,” said Senator Shaheen. “This federal grant is an important investment for UNH to help New Hampshire educators, students and families in our rural parts of the state continue their STEM and agricultural sciences education under these incredibly challenging circumstances. Empowering our teachers with the training they need to be effective in a virtual setting and providing students with the tools they need to stay engaged and learn from home must be top priorities to get through this pandemic. As the appropriations process moves forward, I’ll continue to fight for this program and other federal initiatives that help New Hampshire’s rural and underserved communities.”
"The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for students, and I am glad that this significant grant will help young people in our rural communities continue to learn. Specifically, this grant will help to address the technology gap that many of our students experience, and bolster AgriSTEM studies that can be so critical to our rural economies now and for generations to come," said Senator Hassan.
“It is imperative that we work to ensure that all students are able to succeed as we face the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “Remote learning is a reality in many New Hampshire communities and we must make sure no one is left behind. This funding will help support students, particularly those in underserved and rural communities, by expanding access to the technology they need to continue receiving a quality education through the ongoing public health emergency. In addition, the grant will provide critical workforce training for teachers and invest in the overall wellbeing of students, which is critical during this challenging time. I’ll continue working to ensure Granite Staters have the support and resources they need to weather this public health crisis.”
“I’m pleased that the University of New Hampshire will be receiving this federal grant to help support our rural students and educators,” said Congressman Pappas. “Rural communities continue to be hit hard by this pandemic, and these federal funds to provide workforce training for educators and increase access to educational technology for students as they continue remote learning will go a long way to helping New Hampshire weather this storm.”
“UNH Cooperative Extension has a long history of serving the youth and educators of New Hampshire and throughout the global pandemic our commitment has not wavered,” said Kate Guerdat, Principle Investigator and State 4-H Leader/4-H Youth Development State Specialist at UNH Cooperative Extension. “Thanks to support from NIFA, this new collaborative project will utilize existing community-based faculty and staff resources of Cooperative Extension's 4-H Youth Development Program to develop and deliver an innovative K-12 remote learning model for STEM and Agricultural Sciences. We are confident the approaches that will be developed and implemented through this program will help to address the educational, social and emotional challenges that have been exacerbated by remote learning necessitated by the pandemic.”
Specifically, this grant will be used to help address the educational challenges impacting rural and underserved communities amid the COVID-19 crisis, including workforce training for educators, expanded access to STEM and agricultural sciences for students, and other classroom resources needed as they continue remote learning. The program will also target students’ life skills development, provide emotional support and help students better adapt to remote learning.
The New Hampshire delegation is working to support students and teachers during the COVID-19 crisis. In March, the lawmakers announced $82 million to support New Hampshire schools, colleges, and universities as part of the bipartisan CARES Act. Shaheen, Hassan, Kuster and Pappas have continuously pressed Republican leaders in Congress and the administration to resume bipartisan negotiations on COVID-19 relief that provides state and local funding to ensure towns and cities aren’t forced to lay off teachers due to the economic crisis spurred by the pandemic.