USDA awards more than $354,000 for STEM distance learning program in rural Colorado


The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a grant of $354,653 on Wednesday to the Fremont County Economic Development Corporation, one of many made through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine program.

“Distance learning and telemedicine make it easier for thousands of rural residents to take advantage of economic, health care and educational opportunities without having to travel long distances,” said deputy undersecretary for rural development Donald “DJ” LaVoy.

Colorado’s grant will go toward implementing a distance learning program for science, technology, engineering, and math, linking high schools and community colleges in Fremont County. Business owners and employees will also be able to receive video training. The new technology will serve a population of 24,311.

The program gives “special consideration” to projects that involve STEM learning or opioid treatment.

Last year, DLT awarded more than $265,000 to Lincoln Community Hospital and Nursing home to fund a telemedicine network in Adams, Cheyenne, Kit Carson, Lincoln and Phillips counties.

This round of grants covered 37 states and two territories, awarding $42.5 million. An estimated 5.4 million people in rural areas will benefit.

There were multiple grants of $500,000, the maximum allowed, including a distance-learning project serving nearly 305,000 residents of Southeast Nebraska.

By Michael Karlik