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Around The South Logo.

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
April 2022 Main Topics

Phase II of the Listening Sessions Initiative for Rural Community, Economic, and Workforce Development

An interactive data dashboard has been launched where users can explore data from Investing in Rural Recovery, a report on findings from the Regional Rural Development Centers’ (RRDCs) survey of rural development stakeholders. The dashboard was created in collaboration with the Extension Foundation. Users can combine and display results in a variety of ways.

Virtual listening sessions have also now been completed. These sessions represent Phase II of the RRDC initiative and brought together stakeholders for facilitated dialogue to identify critical investment opportunities. Eight sessions were held in total, with themes for discussion informed by the survey’s results. Four regional sessions identified high priority investments across research, Extension, and other capacities for the topic areas most important to the given region. In addition, four nation-wide listening sessions were conducted on cross-cutting issues. These covered the topics of: Broadband and the Digital Divide; Community Planning, Leadership, and Governance; Rural Innovation and Entrepreneurship; and Workforce Development, Training, and Education. Following analysis of findings from these facilitated discussions, an overall report will be generated, reviewed, and disseminated to stakeholders. Updates can be found on the Listening Session landing page.

Heirs' Property Reports

Two Heirs’ Property products have recently been released. The 2021 Southern Region Heirs’ Property Collaborative Report and A Quick Guide to Addressing Heirs’ Property in Your Community can be found on the Heirs’ Property landing page.

A curriculum is being developed for community professionals and will be coming soon. If you would like to be added to the Heirs’ Property listserv and learn more, email Russ Garner at russ.garner@msstate.edu.

Delta Regional Forum: June 23-24, 2022

The annual Delta Regional Forum engages community and regional development practitioners and scholars working in and with partners in the multistate Delta region to learn from each other in pursuit of population health and wellbeing, economic renewal, and resilience. Held at the Coahoma County Higher Education Center in Clarksdale, Mississippi, the conference includes presentations, panels, workshops, and poster sessions. Diverse presentations are welcome. Abstracts are due May 12, and the event will take place June 23-24, 2022. For more information on the Delta Regional Forum, please visit the landing page.

The Delta Regional Forum is organized by the Southern Rural Development Center in collaboration with the Delta Directions Consortium (DDC), an interdisciplinary network of individuals, academic institutions, non-profit organizations, and foundations that work together to create positive social change in the multi-state Mississippi Delta Region.

REGIONAL SPOTLIGHT: Using Deliberative Dialogue to Address Florida Community Challenges

Citizens across the nation feel increasingly removed from our system of governance. Even at the local level, they may wish to be engaged, but may not feel there is an appropriate venue that matches the time and resources they can dedicate to helping to resolve local issues. Compounding this challenge, members of some groups are historically underserved by government programs. In addition, people often believe they do not have enough information to offer a knowledgeable opinion about what should be done to improve their community. To begin to address these fractures in democratic governance, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and the University of Florida partnered to develop the Community Voices, Informed Choices (CIVIC) program. CIVIC prepares Extension faculty to help communities address challenging community issues. It complements other Extension programs by creating a platform for community members to learn about and discuss community issues that they care about but cannot solve as individuals.

More on this article can be found in the April 2022 issue of Around the South

EMPLOYEE HIGHLIGHT: Trevor Hylton, Florida A&M University

Trevor Hylton is the Urban Agriculture Agent for Leon County Florida with expertise in fruit and vegetable production. Trevor has single-handedly transitioned Urban Agriculture into a Community Economic Development program focused on community gardens and schools, small farmers, and back-yard gardeners. Sustainability and environmental protection strategies with intuitive techniques are critical elements of his work.

Trevor has worked with Florida A&M University Extension for 22 years and holds a courtesy appointment with University of Florida’s Extension program housed in the Leon County Extension Office. Trevor developed a model greenhouse awarded for its affordability featured in Hobby Greenhouse Magazine. Trevor’s expertise has resulted in 10 international assignments, notably in South Africa, India, Guyana, and Haiti.

Trevor is a recipient of many awards, principally from the Extension Professional Associations of Florida-UF/IFAS. Additionally, Trevor is referred to as the Citrus Expert throughout North Florida. Trevor is a native of Jamaica, received his B.S. in Agri-Business (1986) and MBA from Florida State University (1993). In his free time, Trevor enjoys gardening and is known to “grow just about anything”, sports, and basks in being an all-around family guy. He is married to his college sweetheart Julia Hylton for 42 years. Julia’s career path has led her to the area of administration in the public and private sector. They are the proud parents of three girls and four grandkids.

 

LAUNCH ISSUE

 

March 2022 Main Topics

Invitation to Help Identify Regional and National Investments for Rural Recovery and Development

The four Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDCs) are leading an effort to identify the issues diverse rural stakeholders see as top priorities for rural recovery and development. The RRDC's invite research and Extension Directors and Administrators and their community partners to participate in both a Regional Session (broad local context) and National Topic (issues of national importance) Sessions.
Please (1) register here to participate and (2) share the invitation to participate with field Agents/Educators and community-based partners engaged in economic, workforce, and community development activities in rural and coastal areas and small towns. These 90-minute, free sessions will run from March 22 through April 26, 2022.
After registering, visit the recently launched a Data Dashboard to explore outcomes from the national stakeholder survey that drove topics for the Listening Sessions.

Read the Full Report Here

 

Recently Published: Rural Population Health and Aging: Introduction to the Special Issue

The Journal of Rural Social Sciences, the official peer-reviewed publication of the Southern Rural Sociological Association, has published a special issue on rural aging.
The collection of four articles and an introduction/commentary essay highlight innovative research to inform education, outreach/Extension, and policy. The special issue was produced in collaboration with the Interdisciplinary Network on Rural Population Health and Aging (INRPHA) with guest editors from The Pennsylvania State University, Syracuse University, University of Colorado Boulder, and the Southern Rural Development Center.

Read the Special Issue Here

 

SRDC and 1890 Partners Receive AFRI Rural and Economic Development Grant Funding for Bridging the Digital Divide in Socio-Economically Disadvantaged Communities in the South Project

Vital to Rural Economic Development (AFRI's Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities priority) is equitable digital access. Digital equity means all individuals have digital (internet) capacity needed for full participation in our society and economy. Digital equity is essential for economic viability and quality of life.
This project's goal is to identify and address digital equity challenges facing socio-economically disadvantaged (SED) communities in the Southern Region. Through research, the project will identify unique challenges facing SED communities along with the capacity of the 1890 Extension Service to respond. Extension will develop and pilot SED-responsive approaches to building digital capacity in partnership with 1890 Extension.
SRDC’s Rachel Welborn and Dr. John Green are pleased to be partnering with Dorothy Brandon, Alabama A&M University; Travella Free, Kentucky State University; Roberto Gallardo, Purdue University; Sanjun Gu, North Carolina A&T State University; Jimmy Henry, Prairie View A&M University; and Terrence Wolfork, Fort Valley A&M University.

 

Regional Spotlight: Virginia Cooperative Extension Innovates to Foster Resiliency in the Community Leaders in Challenging Times

The circumstances and needs of the last two years have pulled on leaders in unprecedented ways. The demands to pivot quickly, make decisions and manage amidst uncertainty and ongoing changes, and disruptions in systems and routines have been straining as a leader, along with, being able to communicate, encourage and support those they are charged. Often peer networks that may exist in other ranks provide a means of social support, but leaders rarely have the chance to “not be in the leadership role” and to receive support. In response, Virginia Cooperative Extension launched a 6-week, “Building Resilience” virtual program and engaged a cohort-model of leaders representing a wide range of professionals in the fields of: public schools, community colleges, county governments, center for sexual assault survivors, human resources, social services, state department of corrections, mental health, and several areas of VCE and NC Cooperative Extension (FCS, FNP, 4-H, and Master Food Volunteers). With a mental health services provider from Virginia Department of Behavioral Health (Rappahannock-Rapidan Community Services) serving as the expert presenter and co-facilitator, participants learned skills and built relationships throughout six weekly sessions. Each session consisted of 30 minutes of content, viewed asynchronously, and a one-hour facilitated discussion on the specific topic, such as Effective Communication in Challenging Times, Decision-Making, and Self-Care While Helping Others.
Two distinct cohorts of 25 leaders have completed a 6-week series. Comments throughout the series and post-evaluations revealed that their participation served as a means of professional development to positively impact their workspaces. One leader noted, “I’ve taken for granted how much my staff feels I appreciate them; I have had to make more intentional efforts now remotely – not only do I need to be resilient, but I need to build that in my staff.” Another remarked,“I have already started doing quick individual check-ins with my team based on what we discuss here. I know these sessions have helped me be able to empathize and lead in the area of support for my team.”

Click Here to Read the Full Article

 

LAUNCH ISSUE

 

February 2022 Main Topics

SRDC and 1890 Partners Receive AFRI Rural and Economic Development Grant Funding for Bridging the Digital Divide in Socio-Economically Disadvantaged Communities in the South Project

Vital to Rural Economic Development (AFRI's Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities priority) is equitable digital access. Digital equity means all individuals have digital (internet) capacity needed for full participation in our society and economy. Digital equity is essential for economic viability and quality of life. This project's goal is to identify and address digital equity challenges facing socio-economically disadvantaged (SED) communities in the Southern Region. Through research, the project will identify unique challenges facing SED communities along with the capacity of the 1890 Extension Service to respond. Extension will develop and pilot SED-responsive approaches to building digital capacity in partnership with 1890 Extension.

SRDC’s Rachel Welborn and Dr. John Green are pleased to be partnering with Dorothy Brandon, Alabama A&M University; Travella Free, Kentucky State University; Roberto Gallardo, Purdue University; Sanjun Gu, North Carolina A&T State University; Jimmy Henry, Prairie View A&M University; and Terrence Wolfork, Fort Valley A&M University.

 

Recently Published: Rural Population Health and Aging: Introduction to the Special Issue

The Journal of Rural Social Sciences, the official peer-reviewed publication of the Southern Rural Sociological Association, has published a special issue on rural aging. The collection of four articles and an introduction/commentary essay highlight innovative research to inform education, outreach/Extension, and policy. The special issue was produced in collaboration with the Interdisciplinary Network on Rural Population Health and Aging (INRPHA) with guest editors from The Pennsylvania State University, Syracuse University, University of Colorado Boulder, and the Southern Rural Development Center.

Read the Special Issue Here

 

Special Issue: Online Journal of Rural and Urban Research

Connecting community and regional development topics that cut across the rural-urban continuum, John J. Green co-authored an article with several colleagues focused on the connections between population change and the capacity to address public water system needs. Previously presented at the virtual conference on the Jackson Water Crisis, this study appears in a special issue of the Online Journal of Rural and Urban Research.

Read the Special Issue Here

 

Regional Spotlight: University of Tennessee Initiative Aims to Improve Transportation and Digital Equity

A new National Science Foundation-backed initiative led by the University of Tennessee (UT) plans to provide a solution to transportation and digital disparities in underrepresented populations. This project is a collaborative effort between Knoxville Community Development Corporation, United Way of Greater Knoxville and University of Tennessee that addresses racial, ethnic and wealth inequality that were exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. The capacity for communities to use intelligent systems to bridge spatial and technical mismatches in the built environment and expand equitable access to resources is predicated on the ability to coordinate data systems efficiently and share information securely and easily. This project engages the community at the front-end, ensures a broader group of stakeholders is invested, and considers multiple perspectives in the development, deployment, and scaling up of any prototype. Replicated across other communities, this will lead to development of more relevant intelligent systems and successful uptake among communities. Over time, this will lead to greater technical capacity across communities which they can leverage emerging transportation data to make smarter, more resilient, and adaptable transportation and communications infrastructure-planning decisions.
This project is led by UT Tickle College of Engineering Associate Professor Micah Beck. Other team members at UT are UT Institute of Agriculture Assistant Professor Sreedhar Upendram, College of Social Work Associate Professor Courtney Cronley, Tickle College of Engineering Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs Ozlem Kilic, and Center for Transportation Research Interim Director Jerry Everett.

 

LAUNCH ISSUE

 

January 2022 Main Topics

Regional Rural Development Centers kick off year-long 50th anniversary celebration with recognition from Extension Committee on Organization and Policy and Experiment Station Committee on Organization and Policy

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Rural Development Act. Among its many outcomes, the Act led to the creation of the nation’s four Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDCs). To help kick-off the year-long celebration, the RRDCs were joined by two key partner organizations, who each took actions formally recognizing the Centers’ significant contributions over the past 50 years and anticipating their leadership role in the continued vibrancy of rural America. The Board on Agriculture Assembly (BAA) Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) and Experiment Station Committee on Organization and Policy (ESCOP), which provide leadership and governance to the Cooperative Extension System and the State Agricultural Experiment Stations, respectively, each voted on the recognition at recent meetings.

Hear more from ECOP and ESCOP’s leadership and help us celebrate!

The Centers will be hosting additional programs throughout the year to highlight the successes and impacts of their first 50 years of service to Rural America, and to prepare for the emerging opportunities and challenges of the future.

Learn more about the Regional Rural Development Centers at: https://rrdc.usu.edu/.

 

Listening Sessions Report: Investing in Rural Recovery

The nation’s four Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDCs) released Investing in Rural Recovery: Findings from a Rapid Assessment of Stakeholder Priorities for Rural Development from a national survey.

The survey, conducted in the fall of 2021, is part of an ongoing Listening Session Initiative aimed to identify key priorities, capacities, expansion, and valued programming that resulted in the eight critical topic areas for rural communities. This initial report marks the close of the first stage in the consultative feedback process.
The second phase, in March and April of 2022, will provide a basis for a series of facilitated dialogues.

Read the Full Report

 

Regional Spotlight: Arts Extension at University of Kentucky makes its MARK with arts-in-health curriculum, Mind.Art.Recovery.KY

Managing one’s personal health and wellness was difficult enough for the average person in 2021. But for those struggling with Substance Use Disorder (SUD), challenges to well-being were even more pronounced, and the stakes much higher. A pandemic, coupled with a worsening epidemic of opioid and substance misuse has challenged communities to meet the health needs of its people in new and creative ways.

Rising to this challenge, the Cooperative Extension at University of Kentucky (UK), with its broad reach statewide and with funding from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), has found success in integrating the arts into existing SUD recovery and prevention efforts for increased holistic wellness benefits in the state. These results add to growing evidence that, for some, creativity could be key in unlocking a path to recovery.

Through a partnership between Arts Extension, Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky (CEDIK), Family and Consumer Sciences Extension (FCS) and 4-H Youth Development, a new six-unit curriculum of arts-in-health classes was envisioned and implemented.
Partnering extension agents reported interactions with new clientele and groups not previously engaged, confidence in delivering new artistic programming, and an increased understanding of how the arts can contribute to wellness in individuals recovering from SUD.

These early results indicate that an expressive arts-in-health curriculum can provide substantial benefit for many in recovery and equip communities with an accessible platform for wellness engagement. The next phase of this program will train Extension Agents, recovery center staff, and community health coalitions across Kentucky to implement this program in their own communities.


Click Here to Read Full Article

 

LAUNCH ISSUE

 

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