Gallaudet University is pleased to announce it has formed a collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture's(USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to increase the number of qualified college graduates who apply for full-time employment and internship positions at the USDA. Gallaudet University, federally chartered in 1864, is a bilingual, diverse, multicultural institution of higher education that ensures the intellectual and professional advancement of deaf and hard of hearing individuals through American Sign Language and English. AMS administers programs that create domestic and international marketing opportunities for U.S. producers of food, fiber, and specialty crops. AMS also provides the agriculture industry with valuable services to ensure the quality and availability of wholesome food for consumers across the country. Gallaudet President Roberta J. Cordano and AMS Administrator Elanor Starmer celebrated the collaboration by signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at a December 2 ceremony on the Gallaudet campus. The event was attended by officials and staff from AMS and members of the Gallaudet community. The MOU is a mutually beneficial agreement for AMS and Gallaudet. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment rates for people with disabilities is nearly 11 percent nationally. AMS stated that this situation deprives the organization of untapped talent and diverse perceptions, and it deprives educated and experienced Americans with disabilities of engaging employment opportunities. To reverse this trend, President Barack Obama issued Executive Order 13548 in 2010, which directed federal agencies to hire more people with disabilities. In September 2016, at the end of Fiscal Year 2015, the United States Office of Personnel Management reported that since the Executive Order was issued, more than 109,000 people with disabilities have been hired for part-time or full-time employment with the Federal Government. The MOU provides a direct pathway for internship and job opportunities to be shared with Gallaudet students and alumni. "On behalf of Gallaudet University, we applaud the efforts of President Obama and the Federal Government for understanding the need to hire more people with disabilities," said Gallaudet President Cordano. "While we have made great strides, more work needs to be done. There are too many qualified deaf and hard of hearing people in our country who are unemployed or underemployed. At Gallaudet, we have immensely talented students who are the leaders and changemakers of the future. We are thrilled to partner with AMS to help our students and alumni realize their full potential." "Through President Lincoln, USDA and Gallaudet share a common point of origin. Through this MOU, we will also share a common investment in the future of agriculture and service to the American people," said AMS Administrator Elanor Starmer.