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Gretchen Cook-Anderson
Headquarters, Washington
(Phone: 202/358-0836)

Alisa Harrison
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington
(Phone: 202/720-4236)

Sept. 9, 2004
RELEASE : 04-278
Partners Announce Awards For Geospatial Projects
NASA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced six institutions were awarded grants to conduct geospatial extension projects.

These unique projects are based on a NASA/USDA Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in 2003. The MOU encourages USDA to use NASA's Earth science research results to enhance decision support for agricultural production and resource management. NASA and USDA provide the funding for the grant awards.

Three institutions will receive funds to hire new geospatial extension specialists, and three will receive funds to continue projects to improve decision-support education and work force development in geospatial technologies. A geospatial extension specialist is skilled in using Earth science observations and predictions to enhance profitability and to efficiently manage natural resources.

"We are pleased to be a part of this worthwhile effort, which will benefit all Americans," said NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe. "NASA's unique resources to view the Earth from space will enhance our ability to predict climate, weather and natural hazards, as well as to mitigate and assess the effects of natural and human-induced disasters. The information we provide will allow our partners to make critical, accurate and timely decisions," he said.

"Education in the use of geographic information systems and other advanced technologies is critical in today’s agricultural economy if we are to remain competitive and protect our natural resources for future generations," said Agriculture Secretary Anne Veneman.

NASA's Science Mission Directorate; the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service; and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration worked together to develop the projects, and manage the application and selection process.

The six grants were awarded to:

The University of Missouri (Columbia, Mo.) for The Missouri Geospatial Extension Specialist Program, to improve and extend decision-support tools for water management, agricultural efficiency and ecological forecasting, in cooperation with a variety of state partners.

The University of Nebraska at Omaha for Nebraska NativeGEM (Geospatial Extension Model), to improve the decision-support systems, education and work force development of local users, with a focus on Native American tribes in Nebraska.

The University of New Hampshire (Durham, N.H.) for MapCorps, to implement a geospatial technology training and resources center to enhance the geospatial technology capability in the community, specifically targeting youth groups.

The University of Rhode Island (Kingston, R.I.) for Geospatial Information in Rhode Island: Making a Difference in Sustainable Resource Management, focusing on education and work force development for resource and land management.

Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas) for The Texas Geospatial Extension Program, to increase geospatial literacy in elementary schools, and improve decision support tools for invasive species and land fragmentation, among other critical issues, across Texas.

Utah State University (Logan, Utah) for On-Target Fellowship Program: Empowering Agents of Change, for training of county extension agents and educators in use of geographic information and existing decision-support tools sponsored by USDA and NASA, and injecting that expertise into state and local programs.

For information about the awards on the Internet, visit:

For information about NASA on the Internet, visit:


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