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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Janie Simms Hipp, director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative in the University of Arkansas School of Law recently received   the President’s Volunteer Service Award for Lifetime Achievement. The award, from the Corporation for National and Community Service, recognized her lifelong dedication to serving the Chickasaw Nation and advancing the nutritional and educational needs of indigenous people across the continent.

Janie Hipp

The Lifetime Achievement Award is the highest honor conferred by the corporation and is reserved for individuals who contribute more than 4,000 hours of service in their lifetime. The prize, awarded and signed by President Barack Obama in the fall of 2016, was presented to Hipp in January by corporation officials.

“Janie has dedicated her life to expanding opportunities for Native Americans around the country,” said Max Finberg, former director of AmeriCorps VISTA. “She has lived a life of service to others and is extremely deserving of the Presidential Lifetime Volunteer Service Award. Inspired by those who have come before her, she continues to invest in the next generation of Native leaders through the Tribal Youth Summit and otherwise. I am grateful for the chance I had to work with her to improve life throughout Indian Country. She is a shining example of a servant leader and someone deserving of this recognition.”

“It’s hard to imagine anyone who has done more to empower the next generation of leaders in tribal agriculture than Janie,” said Stacy Leeds, dean of the School of Law. “Her dedication and tireless commitment to mentoring and developing others is inspiring.”

Hipp has helped expand efforts to increase nutritional access for tribal communities and protect and promote traditional agricultural knowledge. She is an attorney and graduate of the University of Arkansas School of Law master of laws program in Agricultural and Food Law, the nation’s first advanced law degree program in agricultural and food law.

She is the founder of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Office of Tribal Relations in the Office of the Secretary, and she served two terms on the agency’s Secretary’s Advisory Committee for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers. She also served on two delegations to the United Nations in the areas of women’s issues and Indigenous issues.

About the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative: The initiative enhances health and wellness in tribal communities by advancing healthy food systems, diversified economic development and cultural food traditions in Indian Country. The initiative empowers tribal governments, farmers, ranchers and food businesses by providing strategic planning and technical assistance; by creating new academic and professional education programs in food systems and agriculture; and by increasing student enrollment in land grant universities in food and agricultural related disciplines.

About University of Arkansas School of Law: The University of Arkansas School of Law prepares students for success through a challenging curriculum taught by nationally recognized faculty, unique service opportunities and a close-knit community that puts students first. With alumni in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, two territories and 20 countries, it has been ranked among the top 10 “Best Values in Legal Education” by the National Jurist magazine for four consecutive years and is among the top 46 public law schools, according to U.S. News and World Report.

About the Corporation for National and Community Service/President’s Volunteer Service Award: In 2003, the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation launched the President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2003 to recognize the importance of volunteers to America’s strength and national identity and to honor the deeply invested volunteers whose service is multiplied through the inspiration they give others. Today, the program continues as an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service, managed in partnership with Points of Light, an international nonprofit with the mission to inspire, equip, and mobilize people to take action to change the world.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


Janie Simms Hipp, director (Chickasaw)

Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative


Bryan Pollard, director of tribal relations (Cherokee)

Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative