Dynamic Duo Featured at First Work Force Engagement Open House


FSA Administrator Val Dolcini attended the first Workforce Engagement Open House to learn more about the employees in the Graphic Section. Dolcini thanked Connelly for her commitment to assisting numerous FSA departments with their graphic design needs.

by Latawnya Dia, FSA Public Affairs Specialist

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Workforce Engagement (WE) team held the first employee “In-Reach” Open House on May 19, to further employee engagement by showcasing the talent and skill of FSA’s Graphic Section – Janet Connelly and Julie Polt, visual information specialists.

The Open House Initiative is the first of many upcoming internal open houses where employees will take a closer look at the work performed by FSA employees and departments. The concept is simple — to learn more about our colleagues in a relaxed and informal atmosphere.

As part of the USDA network of more than 2,100 field offices, it’s difficult to keep up with the accomplishments achieved by our co-workers in other departments and divisions within the Agency.  We commit ourselves to the best possible outreach to our customers for program delivery, but when we also pursue “in-reach,” we learn more about our internal customers – -our co-workers — and our appreciation deepens for our colleagues and their respective tasks that occur outside of our daily individual realm.

The Graphic Section was selected for the first open house when the Office of External Affairs (OEA) was searching for a source that led back to Polt, who actually drew the illustration. After learning more about their graphic design responsibilities, it was decided to share Connelly and Polt’s expertise with other FSA employees.

During the open house, Connelly and Polt explained the difference between clip art, vector and raster graphics and also discussed digital and custom illustrations, web and print quality images and intellectual property and copyright laws.

Julie & Lenior Simmons in Graphics' office

Lenior Simmons, agricultural program specialist in the Production, Emergencies and Compliance Division (PECD), viewed work created by the Graphic section while Polt explained the creative process.

Some visual information specialists use a lot of clip art, but Connelly and Polt create visual concepts by hand sketching and using text, images and computer software to communicate ideas to our customers.

Employees who pass through the USDA South Building will see posters created by Connelly and Polt. In conjunction with their daily workload for the FFAS Mission Area, they also work on special projects for at least 15 other USDA offices and agencies.

The dynamic duo is highly sought after and with good reason – their work speaks to their skills.


Connelly and Polt further discuss design principles with FSA employees.

Connelly began her career as a visual information specialist 25 years ago.  She graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art with a Bachelor of Art degree in illustration and a minor in photography.  She is working on her Master’s degree in exhibition design at the Corcoran College of Art and Design at George Washington University and will graduate next spring.

Polt has worked for FSA as a visual information specialist for the past 10 years and has a Bachelor of Art degree in graphic design and photography from Frostburg State University as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish language and literature.  To keep up with the latest trends in graphic design and art, Polt takes printmaking classes at Montpelier Arts Center in Laurel, Maryland.  She enjoys water coloring, traditional printmaking and photography.

Three lucky raffle winners took home a piece of art created by Connelly and Polt.

Thanks to the Graphic Section for kicking off the first WE “In-Reach” Open House and showcasing your talent.

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