Today, I accompanied Secretary Vilsack on a trip to the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., to announce USDA’s year-long celebration of the 150th anniversary of our founding in 1862. It is quite fitting that we are marking this celebration in the hometown of our founder, President Abraham Lincoln, which just so happens to be my hometown as well.

During today’s festivities, Secretary Vilsack unveiled the official 150th anniversary graphic to help mark the occasion which you can view at the USDA 150th anniversary website. This graphic will be used throughout the year as the USDA community celebrates this landmark anniversary by commemorating important events, such as the signing of the legislation to establish the Department on May 15, 1862, by President Lincoln, and the July signing of the Morrill Act to establish our public land grant universities.

Additionally, People’s Gardens will hold a series of anniversary events that celebrate the innovative, collaborative workof USDAemployees across the country. These events will showcase the Department’s dedication to providing healthy, nutritious food for those in need with a special emphasis on the conservation and restoration of our nation’s natural resources.

USDA continues to fulfill the vision Lincoln set forth when he called us the “People’s Department” - touching the lives of every American, every day. As the chair of USDA’s 150th Anniversary Committee, I am excited about for USDA to reflect on 150 years of accomplishments, while also using it as an opportunity to consider the challenges that lie ahead. This anniversary will let us shine a light on all the good work we do each day for the American people while preparing for success as we look forward to the next 150 years.

Ann Wright, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations, USDA