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Compiling SRDC and national news, recent publications, upcoming conferences and events, and job opportunities, this monthly newsletter furnishes a brief overview of announcements from the Southern region.

Recent Issues
May 2023 Main Topics

Dr. Matthew J. Ulmer Named as the Recipient of the 2023 Bonnie Teater Community Development Early Career Achievement Award

The Southern Rural Development Center is proud to honor Dr. Matthew J. Ulmer as the 2023 recipient of the Bonnie Teater Community Development Early Career Achievement Award Recipient. Dr. Ulmer is the State Specialist and Priority Program Team Leader of Community Development with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) and Auburn University.

On behalf of Dr. Matthew Ulmer’s nomination, Dr. Paul W. Brown, Associate Director, Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities Extension stated, “Dr. Ulmer's body of work has made an incalculable impact on Alabama Extension and the citizens of Alabama...” Dr. Kimberly Sinclair-Holmes, Assistant Director, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, detailed her support by saying, “Dr. Ulmer has made many commendable contributions to the community development field as both a leader and change agent in the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) at Auburn University and through his regional and national contributions to the Land Grant system…Dr. Ulmer has been an exemplary partner to Alabama Extension’s co-affiliate institution, Alabama A&M University”.

Full Press Release

CREATE BRIDGES: Phase I Impact Video Recently Released

CREATE BRIDGES is an economic development initiative for rural, multi-county regions to strengthen businesses and workforce within the retail, accommodations, tourism, and entertainment sectors. The goal of the project is to raise awareness about how retail, accommodations, tourism, and entertainment businesses impact the local economy; look at current support and issues for these businesses and their employees; and develop plans to strengthen these areas in the local region. In 2018, the Southern Rural Development Center partnered with the University of Arkansas, the University of Kentucky, and Oklahoma State University to pilot the program with three Phase I states (Arkansas, Kentucky, and Oklahoma). In 2020, CREATE BRIDGES moved into Phase II of the pilot and expanded the program to three additional states (North Carolina, Illinois, and New Mexico), partnering with North Carolina State University, the University of Illinois, and New Mexico State University. This video highlights the program’s activities and outcomes in the three Phase I states.

CREATE BRIDGE: Phase I Impact Video

REGIONAL SPOTLIGHT: The Oklahoma State University Rural Library Hotspot Loan Program

Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service (OCES) partners with rural libraries across the state to loan out hotspot devices. These hotspots can provide a fast internet connection to help alleviate the “digital divide” between households that maintain regular internet access and those without. Through a partnership with AARP, the program adds 3-5 libraries each year and provides them each with 5-7 hotspots that have a full year of unlimited data. Each hotspot can connect to 7-10 devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc.) and typically provides connection speeds that can handle video downloads or videoconferencing.

Read More


April 2023 Main Topics

National CRED Indicators Webinar: Communicating our impacts

Join us for the National CRED Indicators Working Group Webinar: Communicating our impacts on Thursday, May 8, 2 PM ET/1PM CT/12PM MT/11AM PT With renewed interest in the National Impacts database and NIFA’s conversion to the impacts focused NIFA Reporting System, the need for better communicating the impacts of Extension programs and projects could not be greater. The Community Resource and Economic Development (CRED) National Indicators Workgroup will be hosting a webinar during which several participating institutions will share examples of their current Impact Narratives to foster discussion and mutual learning. Those interested in learning from the experiences of others in crafting good impact narratives should plan on participating.

Register Here

New Training Update: Understanding Heirs’ Property at the Community Level

SRDC is joined by the Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center at Alcorn State University and the Southern Extension Risk Management Education Center to provide a train-the-trainer workshop for Extension professionals titled “Understanding Heirs’ Property at the Community Level.” The next training is scheduled to take place on June 6 & 7, in Texas. To keep up with future training opportunities, you can visit the Heirs’ Property landing page. To be added to the Heirs’ Property listserv and learn more about this topic, please email Rachel Welborn at rachel.welborn@msstate.edu.

REGIONAL SPOTLIGHT: Kentucky State University Expands Community & Urban Development

Kentucky State University Cooperative Extension Services are now available at our new office in West Louisville, Kentucky! Under the leadership of Gill Finley Jr., the Community Resource Development team (CRD) has expanded to provide educational programming and resources to limited-resource farmers, individuals, youth, and families in historically underserved communities. We have partnered with Kentucky State’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Family Nutrition Education Program (FNEP) to increase food access and to address nutrition insecurities and health and wellness disparities.

Our CRD team also specializes in entrepreneurship, generational wealth building, heirs' property initiatives, leadership development, disaster education, local food system justice initiatives, innovative agriculture technology, and hydroponic farming systems.

The Kentucky State CRD team acknowledges and thanks Governor Andy Beshear, Secretary Eric Friedlander of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Kentucky State Interim President Ronald A. Johnson, and Dean Kirk Pomper of the College of Agriculture, Community, and the Sciences for their continued support of Kentucky State University’s Cooperative Extension Program to help enable our university's intended future and mission to serve marginalized communities.

For more information on current programs, or to partner with the West Louisville office, please contact Mr. Gill Finley at gill.finley@kysu.edu or 502-597-6389.


March 2023 Main Topics

Understanding Heirs' Property at the Community Level

Through funding from USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and in partnership with colleagues working with the Southern Rural Development Center on heirs’ property, the team finalized the curriculum “Understanding Heirs’ Property at the Community Level” last spring. During this past November, SRDC was joined by the Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center at Alcorn State University and the Southern Risk Management Extension Center to pilot a train-the-trainer workshop for Extension professionals. Two more trainings have taken place since the first of this year, and more will soon be scheduled. To keep up with future training opportunities, you can visit the Heirs’ Property landing page. To be added to the Heirs’ Property listserv and learn more about this topic, please email Rachel Welborn at rachel.welborn@msstate.edu.

Final Listening Sessions Report: Investing in Rural Capacity

The four Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDCs) conducted a rapid assessment of priorities for investments in rural community development. The overarching purpose was to identify the critical resources needed to build community capacity and improve quality of life in rural America. Conducted via an iterative process from Fall 2021 to Spring 2022, the assessment is from the perspective of stakeholders working in the rural development spaces.

Read the full report via the Rural Regional Development Center website.

REGIONAL SPOTLIGHT: Florida's High Ridge Initiative Leads to Collaboration and Innovative Community Development Work

High Ridge Estates is a low-income neighborhood in an isolated, rural part of Clay County, Florida. The neighborhood is large, spanning 1,070 acres and 1.67 miles with 1683 platted parcels of land with 509 dwellings. The neighborhood, originally developed in the 1970s as a 55+ community, but the development failed. Since then, there have been minimal improvements to the neighborhood’s roads or utilities. Carey Morford, Pastor of the Mission of the Dirt Road Church and director of the Community Center, has been working with the High Ridge Neighborhood for more than ten years. Recognizing that the scope of this community development project would require help from key community players, she developed and engaged partners to launch the High Ridge Initiative project, which seeks to address the neighborhood’s many issues. Clay County government, Impact Clay, and the University of Florida IFAS Extension in Clay County are the project’s primary partners. The High Ridge Initiative aims to improve the health and vibrancy of the High Ridge Estates neighborhood through civic engagement and participation. The objectives for the initiative include hosting and facilitating community discussions through the deliberative dialogue process, identifying high-priority areas that require attention in the neighborhood, and gaining support from the Clay County Board of County Commissioners to improve the neighborhood’s roads and utilities.

To read the full article visit the March Around the South page

Oklahoma hosts First Multicultural Event as part of ‘Coming Together for Racial Understanding’ to Highlight Diversity of Cultures

Food, artistic and cultural traditions were uniquely showcased at the multicultural event, “Coming Together for Racial Understanding,” in the Oklahoma State University’s Student Union Theater on February 17. The first cultural event of its nature, the OSU community joined members of the event’s committee and leadership representatives from Oklahoma’s three Land-Grant institutions: The College of the Muscogee Nation, Langston University, and Oklahoma State University. The program included each of the institutions discussing their historic Land-Grant missions and contributions, videos highlighting cooking of traditional cultural meals, and diverse artistic representations including song and dance.

Full News Release



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