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USDA in Alaska awards $400,000 to Aleutian East borough School District

USDA Rural Development

USDA Rural Development awarded over $1 million to Alaskan communities for distance learning and telemedicine.   

The US Department of Agriculture awarded over $1 million to Alaska for Distance Learning and Telemedicine projects including one in Southwest Alaska.  KDLG’s Thea Card has the story.

Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, Southeast Island School District and Aleutians East Borough School District are the three groups receiving grants from the USDA.  The department’s Rural Development Alaska State director Jim Nordlund says the funding is going to connect rural areas to training that is needed without having an actual instructor physically present.

“Alaska is for years a forerunner in both telemedicine and distance learning because of our vast distances and remote population.”

All three recipients are included in the USDA Strike Force for Rural Growth and opportunity Initiative Areas.  Nordlund says these areas are granted money because they either have high poverty levels or underserved areas.

“There’s two areas in Alaska that have been designated as such, there’s Southeast Alaska and the other area is most of Western Alaska and interior Alaska.”

The Aleutians East Borough School District will be receiving over $431,000 for distance learning.  It’s intended to make University of Alaska and Alaska Vocational/Technical Education Center courses available to students from the Aleutian Islands.

Nordlund says this grant will cover quite a bit of the Aleutians.

“In this case we’re talking about Sand Point, Akutan, Cold Bay, False Pass, King Cove.”

He went on to say that these investments are intended to provide educational opportunities that are hard to find outside urban areas.