The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) partners with the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Office of Military Community and Family Policy (MC&FP) and the Army, Navy, and Air Force to support military-connected children and youth, and to ensure that service members are able to focus on readiness and the mission. The objectives of these partnerships include fostering access to consistent and evidence-informed programs and services, both on and off military installations, that encourage positive youth development.
The collaboration’s multi-faceted structure includes:
- partnerships with the Department of Defense (DoD), and the Army, Navy, and Air Force;
- a memorandum of understanding between the DoD and USDA to support their partnership;
- grants and cooperative agreements that establish the scope of work with land-grant universities;
- a Lead University Group that meets regularly with DoD and NIFA to review grants and programs;
- a 4-H Military Liaison Working Group that meets monthly to plan and collaborate on child and youth programming; and
- continuous and ongoing communication with all military partners.
Promising practices include:
- sharing information openly to break down cultural barriers and stay aware of the ever-changing environment;
- having a common goal that underlies all programs; and
- collecting and disseminating evaluation data and using that data for communication and needs assessment.
Throughout its tenure, the collaboration has learned the following lessons:
- Goals and plans should be consistently reevaluated to make sure they fit the work.
- It is important to understand the changing needs of the population and the partnership.