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
May 2021 Main Topics

John J. Green Named SRDC Director

Green will become director of the SRDC on Aug. 1. He is a professor of sociology and senior research associate with the Center for Population Studies at the University of Mississippi. Previously, he was director of this center and the State Data Center of Mississippi at UM. He is bringing a career immersed in Southern sociology and community development to his new position as director of the Southern Rural Development Center.

Full Release

Regional Spotlight: ReOpen Downtown Frankfort Grant Money Awarded to 18 Small Businesses

ReOPEN Downtown Frankfort (Kentucky) grant program partnered the Frankfort Area Chamber of Commerce and Frankfort First Foundation announced that more than $82,000 has been invested in downtown Frankfort’s small businesses. Kentucky State University Extension Service colleagues served on the project alongside other local community stakeholders.

Full Release

Regional Spotlight:The Rural Workforce Academy: A CED Unit - Prairie View A&M University

The Rural Workforce Academy (TRWA) is a pilot program funded by a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration Department of Commerce and Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU). Through that grant, PVAMU’s Cooperative Extension Program provides skilled trades training certification and job placement to rural counties impacted by disasters. The certifications offered provide value-added impact, addressing the much-needed rebuilding and recovery efforts in rural Texas.

Read the Full Story

Launch Issue

September 2020 Main Topics

Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) Online Course

Hosted by the University of Minnesota Extension, this eight-week course, starting January 27, 2021, will be taught by industry professionals. The course features a community economic development business retention and expansion (BRE) model. This approach includes three key steps and broad-based community involvement that allows both volunteers and professionals to connect with businesses.

The course also infuses discussion and content about staff-driven continuous BRE visitation approaches - examining the similarities and differences between continuous BRE methods and the University of Minnesota’s community economic development BRE model. You will learn how different BRE approaches can be valuable for your economic development situation.

Learn More

Webinar: Mindfulness and Self-Care for Farmers

September 30, 2020 @ 12pm CT/1pm ET

This webinar will cover the ways farmers can take care of themselves to protect their physical and emotional health through the seasons. Here, Kara Dodson will review yoga postures, movements, and other forms of bodywork that can help to relieve stress; heal tired, aching muscles and tendons; and restore energy. Dodson will also cover the reasons why self-care should be a priority for all farmers and the ways that taking care of one's body and mind can improve the vitality and viability of life on a farm.

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Launch Issue

August 2020 Main Topics

SRDC Seeking Candidates for Director Position

The Southern Rural Development Center is seeking candidates for its Director’s position. Please see the attached announcement and share with anyone that may be interested. The SRDC’s mission is to strengthen the capacity of the region's 30 land-grant institutions to address critical contemporary rural development issues impacting the well-being of people and communities in the rural South. This includes both Extension and research efforts.

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Collecting Broadband Data to Drive Visibility & Funding for Cooperative Extension

The ECOP Executive Committee voted to participate in the American Connection Project Broadband Coalition, led by Land O’ Lakes, alongside more than 50 other businesses and organizations to advocate for robust federal investment in broadband internet connectivity. Aligned with this work, there’s an opportunity to increase visibility and funding for Cooperative Extension’s on-going response, in the face of COVID, to provide greater broadband access to youth and families. To collect important data and help map locations to Wi-Fi public access and hot-spot lending locations, you or a staff member are encouraged to complete a short survey by September 2nd.

Take the Survey

Launch Issue

July 2020 Main Topics

SRDC Seeking Candidates for Director Position

The Southern Rural Development Center is seeking candidates for its Director’s position. Please see the attached announcement and share with anyone that may be interested. The SRDC’s mission is to strengthen the capacity of the region's 30 land-grant institutions to address critical contemporary rural development issues impacting the well-being of people and communities in the rural South. This includes both Extension and research efforts.

Learn More

Building Community Capacity Around Socially Disadvantaged Farmers & Ranchers

USDA’s Office of Partnerships & Public Engagement, in collaboration with the Regional Rural Development Centers, is inviting you to join a multi-day virtual workshop on Building Community Capacity around Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers.

The workshop will take place over a series of dates/times to facilitate online learning.

  • Session 1: August 5th @ 8-11am CT
  • Session 2: August 6th @ 8-11am CT

Learn More

Launch Issue

May 2020 Main Topics

Continued Resources for Working During COVID-19

The Regional Rural Development Centers is continuing to update our list of resources for those working, teaching, and learning remotely during COVID-19. Please send additional resources to be posted to Katherine Spiering.

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Marketing Workshops to Help Your Business Survive and Thrive

Most business leaders lost thousands of dollars when COVID-19 hit because they were not prepared to sell online. That’s why CREATE BRIDGES has partnered with the Bricks-To-Clicks Marketing program at Mississippi State University Extension to offer marketing workshops to help you sell online using websites and social media. When you attend the workshop, you will learn how to make your website and social media boost your sales so your business can survive and thrive.

  • June 3 @ 1pm CT: How to Create a Clear Marketing Message to Grow Your Business
  • June 4 @ 1pm CT: Five Things Your Website Should Include to Grow Your Profits
  • June 5 @ 1pm CT: Five Social Media Mistakes Your Business Should Avoid

Register Now

Launch Issue

April 2020 Main Topics

Resources for Working During COVID-19

The Regional Rural Development Centers have compiled a list of resources for those working, teaching, and learning remotely. We will be updating this page as additional resources become available. Please send additional resources to be posted to Katherine Spiering.

Learn More

Webinar – Spanning the Digital Divide: Extension Opportunities to Make a Difference

April 29th @ 12 p.m. CT/1 p.m. ET

The COVID-19 crisis has shown an even harsher light on the digital divide that already plagues the nation. As individuals began efforts to work or learn from home, people that lack broadband access or skills struggle to keep up. What can Cooperative Extension do to help bolster resources to these communities? The National Digital Extension Education Team will share practical guidance into what has been successful in navigating these challenges. Join us for a one hour webinar to explore together.

Webinar Link

Launch Issue

March 2020 Main Topics

Southern CRD Webinar: The Georgia Initiative for Community Housing: Addressing Housing Issues from the Bottom Up

March 19, 2020 @ 10 a.m. CT/11 a.m. ET

This webinar presentation will provide a general overview of housing issues in the U.S. and more specifically the Southeast as well as, outline the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing (GICH). It will provide details about how the program operates and outline some successful communities.

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Heirs’ Property in the Southern Region

A better understanding of the issues related to heirs’ property is an important element in the prosperity of the Southern Region. On February 24th and 25th, a group convened in Atlanta to discuss a strategy in assessing gaps and needs in addressing heirs’ property issues. The meeting, hosted by the Atlanta Federal Reserve, brought together representatives from 1862 and 1890 Land Grant Universities, non- Land Grant Universities, Federal agencies, and for-profit/non-profit organizations. The participants identified and prioritized projects and established five working groups to streamline efforts. The groups were extension/outreach, funding, legal-policy, partnerships, and research. If interested in learning more about the working groups, please contact Russ Garner at russ.garner@msstate.edu.

Learn More

Launch Issue

February 2020 Main Topics

BroadbandUSA Practical Broadband Conversations Webinar

The Role of States in Expanding Broadband Access
February 19, 2020 @ 1 p.m. CT/2 p.m. ET

The majority of states across the country are increasing resources devoted to broadband deployment, supporting digital inclusion initiatives and focusing their attention towards broadband policy coordination across different state agencies. While there is no one size fits all, states are implementing innovative approaches to increase broadband access and adoption. Join BroadbandUSA in a conversation on how broadband is being implemented at the state level in addition to research by The Pew Charitable Trusts on state broadband programs and innovative approaches to help overcome the digital divide.

Learn More

Launch Issue

January 2020 Main Topics

Nominations Open: Bonnie Teater Lifetime Achievement Award 2020

Deadline to apply: March 13, 2020

Each year, the SRDC honors someone who has excelled in community development work within Extension Service in the South. On even numbered years, we seek to honor a person with the Bonnie Teater Community Development Lifetime Achievement award. We need your help! Nominations are now open, and the attached document describes the process and timeline. Please consider nominating someone that has excelled in this arena.


  • Be currently employed by one of the 30 Land-Grant Universities located in the Southern Rural Development Center region or retired within the last 12 months
  • Serve as an administrator, specialist or agent who has worked in the Extension CD area for at least 10 years at the state, multi-county and/or county levels
  • Have an impressive portfolio of Extension-related programs and publications

Learn More

Upcoming Webinar: 2020 Census

January 30, 2020 @ 10a.m CT/11a.m. ET

With the 2020 Census drawing near, now is the time for anyone interested in promoting participation to learn about several action items they can initiate. This webinar will address the why, what, and how of the Census and present possible activities and connections to encourage participation. Since the Census only occurs once every ten years, it is extremely important for every person in every community be counted.

Learn more

Launch Issue

December 2019 Main Topics

Open Forum Webinar: Best Practices in Diversity, Inclusion, and Racial Equity Training in Food Systems

December 12, 2019 @ 12p.m. CT/1p.m. ET

Co-presented by eXtension’s Community, Local and Regional Food Systems partner organization, the North American Food Systems Network (NAFSN). Featuring program updates from CLRFS working group Racial Equity in the Food System, as well as Iowa State University and NAFSN. This is an opportunity for sharing and discussion by all forum attendees.

Register Now

2017 Census of Agriculture Special Study Data Released

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) recently released the data from the first 2017 Census of Agriculture Special Study, the Irrigation and Water Management Survey. Aquaculture is the next census special study to be released, scheduled for December 19th. Census of Agriculture products continue to be made available. Currently online are State and County Profiles, Congressional District Profiles and Rankings, Ag Census Web Maps, Zip Code Tabulations, Watersheds, American Indian Reservations, and Race, Ethnicity, and Gender Profiles.

Learn more

Launch Issue

October 2019 Main Topics

Rural Innovation Initiative Opportunity

Deadline to apply: November 18, 2019

With support from the Economic Development Administration, Center on Rural Innovation is seeking the second cohort of communities to join the Rural Innovation Initiative. Successful applicants will receive technical assistance to strengthen their approach to entrepreneurship and digital jobs, apply for federal funding, and join a national network of rural innovation communities. Communities should express interest in the program as soon as possible by filling out a brief questionnaire. Rural Innovation Strategies Inc. will host a webinar on October 28 at 2 p.m. ET to provide additional information. Interested communities are encouraged to register for the webinar here.

Learn more

NIFA National Science Liaisons Announced

NIFA’s program portfolio and contact with stakeholders, partners, and collaborators will continue, uninterrupted, in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. This important function will be led by six science professionals, National Science Liaisons (NSLs), who will support the agency’s national research, education, and extension portfolio; advance NIFA programs; and serve as expert resources. These liaisons are Dr. Carline Crocoll, Dr. Mark Mirando, Dr. Mervalin Morant, Dr. Mat Ngouajio, Dr. Eric Norland, and Bradley Rein, P.E.

Learn more

Launch Issue

July 2019 Main Topics

Southern CRD Webinar:
Creating Bridges for the Rural Retail Workforce: Bringing Businesses and Employees Together to Identify Long-Term Employment Solutions for Rural Retail

July 26, 2019 @ 12:30pm CT/1:30pm ET

Retail, entertainment, accommodation, and tourism sector jobs are a growing share of rural employment. In some rural South communities, these jobs represent the only local employment opportunities for residents with limited or no college education, since manufacturing, mining, and other industries left in the latter part of the 20th century. In addition, these sectors provide critical jobs for those seeking to enter, or re-enter, the workforce and have proven to be economic development engines. However, these jobs often suffer from low wages, no obvious career path, and experience high rates of turnover, despite the economic importance these sectors may have in rural communities. CREATE BRIDGES is a multi-state initiative to strengthen retail, entertainment, accommodation, and tourism industries in rural communities. The process is designed to: raise awareness of the role these important businesses play; determine challenges negatively impacting these businesses and workforce participation; and implement strategies to strengthen them within selected regions.

Learn more

Georgia Students Selected for TEAM Success Program – Fort Valley State University

Before enrolling in classes for fall 2019, a select group of 17 high school students and graduates will have work experience and $2,100 in their pocket from a summer employment program through Fort Valley State University.

They are participating in the TEAM Success Program sponsored by Fort Valley State University’s Cooperative Extension Program this summer. TEAM is an acronym for Teaching, Enlightening, Achieving and Mentoring.

For six weeks, beginning June 3 and ending July 12, the students will shadow Extension personnel, county agents and program assistants in 14 counties FVSU’s Cooperative Extension Program serves. County Extension agents and program assistants provide various services to youths, seniors, farmers and other members of the community. For the duration of the program, the students will assist Extension agents and program assistants in activities and projects in areas such as horticulture, food and nutrition, financial planning and 4-H youth activities.

To be selected for TEAM Success, the student must be entering the 11th or 12th grade or be a high school graduating senior with a grade point average of 2.4. They must also live in one of 14 counties where an FVSU Cooperative Extension Program county agent or program assistant is based and submit three letters of recommendation and a formal essay.

Launch Issue

June 2019 Main Topics

SRDC is Pleased to Award Ramona Madhosingh-Hector with the Bonnie Teater Early Career Achievement Award

The Southern Rural Development Center is proud to honor Ramona Madhosingh-Hector as the 2019 recipient of the Bonnie Teater Community Development Early Career Achievement Award. Ramona is a Regional Specialized Urban Sustainability Agent at University of Florida (UF), Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) in Pinellas County, Florida.

In Ramona’s nine years of serving in this role, she has accomplished numerous achievements. Ramona has received more than 30 state and national awards and has also presented at nearly 100 conferences. She has been a dominant player in developing and launching a new UF/IFAS Extension Program: CIVIC, Community Voices, Informed Choices. This provides a platform for deliberative dialogue and feedback through a two-way exchange versus a one-way program delivery style. Another one of Ramona’s achievements includes a program called Sustainability Connections which is a community film series. This series offers an engaging platform to support regional sustainability education efforts. Also, in the field of sustainability, Ramona was an integral part of the planning team for the 2019 National Sustainability and National Extension Energy Joint Summit in Tampa, Florida.

Learn More

Southern CRD Webinar:
Telling the Whole Story: Economic Contributions and Cotton Cooperatives

June 18, 2019 @ 11:00am CT/12:00pm ET

Cooperative businesses are an important part of the cotton value chain. They also have unique characteristics that lead to misunderstandings about their operation and value to their communities. Extension specialists and cooperative professionals across Texas and Oklahoma have joined in an effort to share the true story of cooperation by measuring the economic contribution of these businesses.

Learn more

Launch Issue

May 2019 Main Topics

Southern CRD Webinar:
Community Food Systems: A Space for Ecology, Justice, and Markets

May 30, 2019 @ 1:00pm CT/2:00pm ET

In this webinar, Eric Bendfeldt, Extension Specialist for Community Viability with Virginia Cooperative Extension highlights ongoing work with Local, Regional, and Community Food Systems, which includes an emphasis on soil health, justice, and facilitating farm to table connections and conversations.

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Dr. Gina Eubanks Inducted into NIFA Hall of Fame

Dr. Gina Eubanks, Associate Vice Chancellor and Program Leader for Nutrition and Food Sciences at Louisiana State University, has been inducted into the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Hall of Fame. This award recognizes individuals whose exceptional contributions to NIFA’s mission at the local, regional, national, or international level have made a positive impact on the lives of citizens.

Eubanks previously served as the Vice Chancellor for Extension at the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center. While at the SU Ag Center, Eubanks was an active member and chairperson of the Association of Extension Administrators. She also was elected as an administrative representative to the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities Board on Agricultural Assembly. Eubanks attended Southern University and Oklahoma State University and later held teaching roles at Alcorn State University, Oklahoma State University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and State University.

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Launch Issue

April 2019 Main Topics

Southern CRD Webinar:
Building a Regional Coalition for Natural Resource Conservation

April 26, 2019 @ 12:00pm CT/1:00pm ET

Natural Resources are an important component of the regional economy in western Kentucky and Tennessee that comprise the Riverlands region. There is a growing interest in building regional capacity to address the challenges faced by communities for the sustainability of natural resources. Extension specialists and agents from Kentucky and Tennessee facilitated a workshop to engage stakeholders with a goal of identifying and prioritizing projects that support outdoor recreation, sustainable resource use, and a high quality of life, while promoting the heritage of the Riverlands region. This session will discuss a collaborative effort between University of Kentucky and University of Tennessee to build a regional coalition for natural resource conservation in the Riverlands region.

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National Digital Extension Education Team Trains Youth and Adult Leaders in Bridging the Digital Divide

According to the Federal Communications Commission’s 2018 Broadband Deployment report, over 24 million people in the U.S. do not have access to broadband internet (25 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload). National Digital Extension Education Team (NDEET) in partnership with the National 4-H Council, Microsoft and Georgia 4-H trained youth and adult leaders to address the digital divide across the U.S. through the 4-H Tech Changemakers program. The 4-H Tech Changemakers program includes working with 4-H educators, broadband service providers, community members, civic leaders, and Microsoft to help people thrive in a digital economy and benefit from high-speed connectivity.

NDEET in collaboration with partners developed a guidebook and other resources to provide communities guidance on planning 6-10 learning sessions, engaging stakeholders, implementation and program evaluation. The information provided to participants include:

  1. Understanding communities: To help assess communities’ needs, a socio-economic index and county profiles were developed. To understand the differences in rural and urban broadband coverage, a digital divide index was developed that includes an infrastructure/adoption indicator and a socio-economic indicator. The Digital divide index score ranges from 0 to 100, a higher number indicating a higher digital divide in that community.
  2. Technical assistance on digital literacy skills: To better utilize technology as a communication tool, youth and adult leaders were provided training and resources to develop programs including comparison of computers, tablets and smart devices; setting up devices and understanding controls; capturing photos and videos; understanding software programs; using social media; online shopping; and video-conferencing.
  3. Internet safety and security: To safely and securely operate devices and navigate internet, youth and adult leaders were provided training and resources to develop capacity to devise programs on understanding computer security and privacy; protecting devices from viruses, spyware, malware and other threats; protecting users from threats, scams, phishing and identity theft; keeping computer secure and updated and creating strong passwords; understanding encryption; ethical use of devices; and preventing cyber-bullying.
  4. Assistance with community engagement principles: Best practices were presented to youth and adult leaders to help implement the 4-H Tech Changemakers program on recruitment and training youth as teachers; finding volunteers and adult leaders to establish trusted relationships in communities; delivery methods such as youth/parents/senior citizens’ technology use; considerations for logistics and scheduling; using templates for marketing and communication; and developing surveys to evaluate and measure impacts.
A total of 368 youth and adult leaders across 15 states and 91 counties participated in four trainings. 48 adult leaders participated in the national training at Washington, D.C in January of this year. 76 youth and adult leaders from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Maine, and New York participated at the first regional training in Washington, D.C. in February. In Columbus (Ohio), 116 youth and adult leaders from Ohio and Georgia participated at the second regional training in early March. In Chicago, 128 adult and youth leaders from Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Washington, Michigan, Virginia, and Iowa participated in the third and final regional training in mid-March.

Launch Issue

March 2019 Main Topics

Southern CRD Webinar:
Equipping Georgia’s New Farmers for Success

March 26, 2019 @ 2pm CT/3pm ET

Agriculture has long been the most important part of Georgia’s economy with a Farm Gate Value of over $13.8 Billion. There is a growing interest in niche crops and value added products with the number of small to mid-size farms increasing. The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is partnering with the UGA Small Business Development Center to train the next generation of farmers in both agriculture production as well as farm business management. Successful growers and producers are first and foremost business people. This session will discuss recent collaborative efforts to promote Georgia’s number one industry and economic driver – agriculture.

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New and Improved Land-Grant Impacts Website

There are big improvements to the public facing Land-Grant Impacts Website. The site has a fresh new look, better tools and search capabilities, integrated peer review, and more prominently displayed impact stories. All new statements submitted to the database will now undergo peer review before being made public on the site. This new layer of review will insure the highest quality information is being displayed. Statements from the past three years will be archived and available, but not displayed on the public site. Directors and Administrators and their associates are strongly encouraged to review the entire site to find what’s there to generate communication efficiencies and learn what colleagues are doing across the land-grant system.

Learn more

Launch Issue

February 2019 Main Topics

Southern CRD Webinar:
Empowering Minority Students with an Entrepreneurial Mindset

February 28, 2019 @ 2pm CT/3pm ET

The United We Can (Unidos Se Puede) program in Tulsa, OK, empowers black and Latino/a students with skills and resources to pursue higher education. The foundation of the program is an entrepreneurial mindset: a way of thinking that uses critical thinking, problem solving and creativity to see opportunities, learn from failure, and build ones self-efficacy. While these are critical to starting and running a successful business, they are also tools for a successful life. On the foundation of this mindset, the program erects three pillars of programming: success coaches, family workshops, and a summer academy. Students and parents learn essential skills, increase family cohesion, develop positive peer relationship that reinforce and support an entrepreneurial mindset. Evaluations of the program suggest that participants have better school attendance, higher grades, and lower participation rates in negative behaviors.

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Now Accepting Nomination for the 2019 Bonnie Teater Early Career Achievement Award

Deadline to Apply: March 30, 2019

Each year, the SRDC honors someone who has excelled in community development work within Extension Service in the South. On odd numbered years such as this one, we seek to honor a person with the Bonnie Teater Community Development Early Career Achievement award. We need your help! Nominations are now open, so please consider nominating someone that has excelled in this arena.

Learn more

Launch Issue

January 2019 Main Topics

Southern CRD Webinar Series Continues into 2019 Exploring Ways to Engage Limited Resource Communities in Disaster Education – Strategies from the 1890 EDEN Advisory Group

January 22, 2019 @ 1pm CT/2pm ET

The 1890 EDEN Advisory Group was formed in response to foster better 1890 LGUs participation in EDEN and to devise a coordinated strategy to create and deliver effective educational programs and training that targets limited resource audiences. It is widely known that limited resource communities are often the least prepared, lack disaster resources and/or do not receive the timely assistance necessary to promote disaster resilience in their communities. The purpose of the webinar is to delve into strategies for providing disaster education resources to a diverse clientele, the kind of partnerships needed at the state level to support this work, and lessons learned in emergency planning and preparedness that empower communities to be resilient during disaster-related events.

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Launch Issue

December 2018 Main Topics

SRDC Secures Walmart Grant to CREATE BRIDGES to Strengthen Retail in Rural America

SRDC has secured funding from Walmart for the initiative, CREATE BRIDGES: Celebrating Retail, Accommodations, Tourism, and Entertainment by Building Rural Innovations and Developing Growth Economies. The SRDC will collaborate on this initiative with three of its Southern Region Land Grant University (LGU) partners: University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service, University of Kentucky, and Oklahoma State University. Community and Economic Development specialists from each university, Dr. Stacey McCullough (AR), Dr. Alison Davis (KY), and Dr. Dave Shideler (OK), will lead the project team in their respective states to develop, refine, and pilot a process to help rural communities strengthen their retail sector.

Each state selected two multi-county regions to participate in CREATE BRIDGES. This initiative is built upon the SRDC-led Stronger Economies Together (SET) initiative, a collaborative effort across 32 states that helps rural counties work together to develop and implement an economic development plan for their multi-county region. Built in partnership with USDA Rural Development, the nation’s four Regional Rural Development Centers, and LGU partners, SET will serve as a building block for this new initiative.

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Mark Your Calendars for the NACDEP 2019 Conference

June 9-12, 2019: Asheville, NC
Call for Proposals: Due January 14, 2019

Homegrown to New Heights in Asheville, North Carolina June 9 - 12, 2019. The National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals invites you to participate in a few days of learning, networking, great food, inspiring and thought-provoking sessions in the beautiful city of Asheville. The conference hotel is Renaissance Asheville, in the heart of downtown and the excitement of this eclectic community.

Learn more

Launch Issue

November 2018 Main Topics

National CRED Indicators Team Webinar:
What’s Your Program Worth? Evaluation Strategies for Documenting the Dollar Value of Extension Programs

November 20, 2018 @ 1pm CT/2pm ET

Extension stakeholders, most notably county commissioners, often need to justify their decisions to continue funding Extension and need more than evaluation data on program outcomes. They want to know the economic benefits of their Extension funding in their communities. This webinar provides two case studies of evaluation efforts to document the return on investment of Extension programming. Both of these efforts combined quantitative and qualitative methods to collect data on the dollar value of Extension programming.

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Southern CRD Webinar:
Community Engagement through Partnership

December 5, 2018 @ 11am CT/12pm ET

As Extension Specialist our engagement with reputable partners will allow us to broaden the impact in the communities we serve and increase our volunteer base. This webinar will provide you with information on establishing a partnership with the IRS through their Free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. Because of the local and national advertisement, we receive from this partnership we are afforded the opportunity to advertise the value of the County Extension Agents. The community is provided accessibility to receiving tax preparation, the Extension Agent is trained to become Certified Tax Preparers and most important, citizens on a limited and fixed budget save money with the FREE tax preparation.

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Launch Issue

October 2018 Main Topics

Southern CRD Webinar:
Citizenship in Action: How Extension Can Engage and Educate Voters on Ballot Issues

October 30, 2018 @ 2pm CT/3pm ET

Even without commercials, mailers and social media noise, voters can have a difficult time understanding the implications of proposed laws and policy changes they're asked to vote on Election Day. This webinar looks at Arkansas' model of voter engagement and shares how Extension professionals can incorporate ballot issue education into programs for voters of all ages.

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National CRED Indicators Team Webinar:
What’s Your Program Worth? Evaluation Strategies for Documenting the Dollar Value of Extension Programs

November 20, 2018 @ 1pm CT/2pm ET

Extension stakeholders, most notably county commissioners, often need to justify their decisions to continue funding Extension and need more than evaluation data on program outcomes. They want to know the economic benefits of their Extension funding in their communities. This webinar provides two case studies of evaluation efforts to document the return on investment of Extension programming. Both of these efforts combined quantitative and qualitative methods to collect data on the dollar value of Extension programming.

Learn more

Launch Issue

September 2018 Main Topics

Coming Together for Racial Understanding Launches First Pilot Effort

On August 27-31, 2018, teams of three from 20 states participated in the first cohort group of Coming Together for Racial Understanding. The purpose of the training is to build capacity with in Cooperative Extension Service (CES) to help communities engage in civil dialogues around racial issues. The week-long training was designed to prepare participants to build capacity within their home states’ CES, working across the borders of the Land-Grant Universities (LGU) within a given state (where there are multiple LGUs within a state). Following the train-the-trainer, the process for expanding capacity is two-fold:

  • Build capacity with the CES system in the home state
  • Build capacity within at least one community
The 20 pilot teams will be working collaboratively to measure impacts from this initiative under the leadership of the Southern Rural Development Center. Impacts will measure how the effort has built capacity both within CES as well as within the participating communities.

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Southern CRD Webinar:
Chalk and Talk: A Different Approach to Community Engagement

September 28, 2018 @ 2pm CT/3pm ET

The ‘Chalk and Talk’ program seeks to engage people in a creative and accessible way about their feelings, thoughts and views on their city’s downtown. In essence it is a way to informally gather and summarize the varying views and experiences of attendees of local festivals and events about the city while they are immersed in it. The intent is that this information can inspire dialogue and help inform the preliminary steps taken towards longer term design, planning and revitalization initiatives.

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Launch Issue

August 2018 Main Topics

Webinar: Marketing Cooperative Extension Organizations and Extension Local Foods Educational Programs

In this webinar, discover how Extension Services are using Facebook, Twitter, and websites to market ANR, 4-H, FCS, and Community Development Programs, and the types of content Extension Services are using to promote Local Foods Extension Programs.

This research was created as part of Sera 47 - Strengthening the Southern Region Extension and Research System to Support Local & Regional Foods Needs and Priorities. This applied research was financially supported by Mississippi State University Extension, the Department of Agricultural Economics, and the Southern Rural Development Center at Mississippi State University.

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Call for Proposals Now Open: National Sustainability Summit and National Extension Energy Summit

Deadline to apply: October 1, 2018

Share your experiences, stories, and insights at the inaugural National Sustainability Summit (NSS)—formerly the Extension Sustainability Summit—and biennial National Extension Energy Summit (NEES). Hosted by the University of Florida IFAS Extension and the Southern Rural Development Center in partnership with USDA-NIFA, this joint conference will be held April 16-19, 2019 in Tampa, Florida.

This national conference will bring leading sustainability and energy educators and practitioners together to showcase land grant university Extension and research program successes, share challenges, and identify opportunities to strengthen our collective impacts. Participants will hear from dynamic plenary speakers with expertise in sustainability and energy issues, enhance their professional knowledge and skills through pre-conference educational tours and/or mobile workshops, attend inspiring abstract presentations and networking sessions, and learn from local exhibitors and sponsors. Extension professionals from all national associations will benefit from the cross-disciplinary and process-oriented structure of the joint Summits.

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Launch Issue

July 2018 Main Topics

Understanding Communities: Online Course Offers Tools for Community Development

The four Regional Rural Development Centers and a team of nationally recognized Community Development professionals are presenting Understanding Communities and Their Dynamics, a unique seven-week online course beginning Wednesday, September 12, 2018 and concluding Wednesday, October 24, 2018.

Each week features a 90-minute webinar focusing on topics including demographics, economic development, strategic planning and power structures. Supplemental resources and online discussion opportunities will be available on the course website. Participants are encouraged to log in at their convenience throughout the course to explore these topics further, pose questions, investigate additional resources and visit with colleagues in similar situations. All sessions are recorded and available on the website. Understanding Communities and Their Dynamics is an introduction to community development. It is appropriate for individuals working with community groups in any subject area.

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Overview of Local Food Systems Training Program

Sponsored by North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Clemson Cooperative Extension, and Virginia Cooperative Extension, this Overview of Local Food Systems Training Program is appropriate for those who are just getting started in their local food systems career, or for those who have experience but want to gain a broader or more complete perspective. The following professional development courses focus on core competencies, identified by a national group of local food leaders (NAFSN, 2017), needed to support high functioning and sustainable local food systems development.

These courses are designed for working professionals and utilize various types of engaging activities, including lectures, readings, forum posts, podcasts, and virtual field trips. The estimated time for completion is 15 hours for Foundations in Local Food Systems Development, and approximately eight (8) hours for each of other courses. These are "asynchronous" self-paced, online courses, meaning that there are no scheduled meeting times. Once open enrollment is available (anticipated spring 2018), you can sign up when you are ready to start and begin interacting with the learning content at your own pace.

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Launch Issue

June 2018 Main Topics

Working with Virtual Teams: 3 Part Webinar Series

Increasingly Land-Grant University professionals are called on to work on joint projects where the majority (if not all) of their communication is one through virtual linkages (as opposed to face-to-face meetings). While these virtual connections can save time and financial resources, they are not without specific challenges. This three-part webinar series will explore key elements that characterize effective virtual teams and will demonstrate both processes and technological tools that can help leaders guide their virtual teams to success. Each one-hour webinar will build on the next, so participants are encouraged to plan on viewing the entire three session series.

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Bricks-To-Clicks™ Extension Program Powers Businesses with Online Marketing Plans that Work – Mississippi State University

Most entrepreneurs struggle to develop effective online marketing plans, so we created an easy, step-by-step formula that helps entrepreneurs clarify their marketing message and attract customers. A clear message helps customers remember your products and services, engage online, and buy more often.

The BRICKS-TO-CLICKS™ Extension program uses a 3-step formula to help businesses with online marketing. The 3-step formula is:

  1. Clarify your marketing message by attending a strategic marketing workshop.
  2. Build a sales funnel using your website and social media.
  3. Implement the funnel and watch your business grow.
Recently, several Mississippi companies and communities have used the 3-step formula including HogEye Cameras, Hernando Farmers’ Market, and the Up-In-Farms Food Hub. HogEye Cameras, a company located in Crawford, Mississippi, recently implemented the 3-step formula in January 2018 and the impact has been significant in only a few months.

Dr. Barnes recently collaborated with the Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach at Mississippi State University to support their U.S. Small Business Administration project “Boots to Business Revenue Readiness Virtual Classroom Course.” Part of the Bricks-To-Clicks™ social media training will be shared with participants in 2018/2019.

Launch Issue

May 2018 Main Topics

Southern CRD Webinar Series Continues:
Increasing Stakeholder Involvement to Build Capacity and Promote Sustainability of Healthy Communities

May 24, 2018 @ 9:00am CT/10:00am ET

How do Extension agents engage stakeholders in significant roles to address community health? What are the challenges and benefits of community based participatory research focused on healthy communities? What do county agents gain from involving stakeholders to achieve policy, systems and environmental changes? This webinar will share lessons learned and successful strategies from county Extension programs currently focused on building healthy communities.

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Identifying Assets in Rural Texas: Texas Rural Leadership Program – Leaders in Action

Rural Leadership Program (TRLP) was formed in 1989 to provide leadership development opportunities in underserved areas of rural Texas. Through its Leaders in Action curriculum, TRLP guides community members to develop a more inclusive style of leadership and promote participation in community development efforts, emphasizing “learning together” about personal and community assets in order to activate and shape a collective future.

As a 501c3, in partnership with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas A&M University Public Partnership & Outreach, TRLP utilizes a three-tiered model to build leadership capacity in rural communities. The model includes a training of local leaders to facilitate the TRLP curriculum in their communities. These trained facilitators deliver a series of seven 90-minute informative and interactive sessions to members of their community who want to learn how to improve the well-being of their distinct area of Texas. Topics include: Asset-based community development, appreciative inquiry, leadership competencies, management functions, systems thinking, non-violent communication, community engagement, group dynamics, deliberative dialogue, building trust and shared vision, and designing and implementing asset-based projects. Each session involves activities and dialogue to engage participants in using the concepts presented.

Individuals desiring to learn and expand their leadership potential are encouraged to participate. Age is not a factor. The program is targeted to adults, but high school youth are welcomed to learn an inclusive approach to leadership. Communities often have businesses and organizations seeking leaders, and can benefit by sponsoring employees or members, who have potential and interest to serve in leadership roles, to participate in the TRLP class. Neighborhoods, communities, churches, emergency services, hospitals, and government agencies at all levels have encouraged their potential and developing leaders to participate. Participants are expected to actively engage together in each class session and, as a group, plan and complete a class project using the competencies learned in the program. A recent example of a TRLP class project was the creation of a Crossroads Hometown Festival in the rural community of Hearne (Population 4,483; Robertson County), with the purpose of highlighting the assets of Hearne and the surrounding communities and to promote local businesses and regional entertainment. A local news story on this festival can be found here. Additional information about the Texas Rural Leadership Program can be found here.

Launch Issue

April 2018 Main Topics

National CRD Indicators Webinar:
Evaluating Community Development Impacts Using Qualitative Indicators

Measuring the impact of work community development professionals engage in is critical to ensure its continuation. While many focus on quantitative measures, this webinar will provide successful examples of using qualitative methods to evaluate this work. A pilot evaluation study that used newly developed qualitative indicators will be shared. Additionally, two specific case examples will be provided; one of a community foundation education program evaluation and one of a community health assessment on the Crow Indian Reservation. Discussion will focus on challenges and opportunities in working with organizations outside of Extension, as well as the context for applying qualitative approaches and communicating outcomes across settings. Presenters: Rebecca Sero and Paul Lachapelle.

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Understanding Population Shifts Across Tennessee: A 100-year Analysis, University of Tennessee

People are the most important element of a community and are often mobile. In the past century, population shifts have changed the landscape considerably in communities across Tennessee. Researchers at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture examined the underlying reasons for these spatial and temporal shifts in population across Tennessee in the past century.

In a span of 100 years, Tennessee’s population more than tripled, transforming it to one of the fastest-growing states in the nation. At the beginning of the 20th century, a majority (84 percent) of the population in Tennessee lived in rural areas; around mid-century, the population was about evenly split between rural and urban areas. However, by the end of 20th century, the sprawl continued, resulting in 64 percent of the population living in urban areas of Tennessee, and this trend has continued into the 21st century.

Between 1900 and 2010, while the population in 86 counties across Tennessee grew, nine counties experienced population declines. Around 1960, more people lived in urban areas than rural areas across the state. While the population in Tennessee grew the fastest between 1970 and 1980 (17 percent), the growth was slowest between 1980 and 1990 (6.2 percent). Population grew in Rutherford; Williamson (Nashville metro region); Cumberland (Cumberland plateau); Blount (Knoxville region); and Bradley (Chattanooga metro region) counties, which are predominantly urban, along major interstate highways, and are rich in natural resources. At the same time, rural counties such as Hancock, Haywood, Jackson, Stewart and Giles experienced the greatest population declines. Incidentally, the Highland Rim region (around the Nashville basin), which is predominantly based on agriculture and contains no urban centers, experienced the highest declines over the years. The population decline in these communities may have led to a decline in taxes for school, roads and other publicly supported projects.

In 1900, Tennessee’s population was predominantly younger with children and young adults (under 24) representing 60 percent of the population, followed by a working-age group (25-64) totaling 36 percent, and seniors (65 and over) comprising up to 4 percent of the population. By mid-century, the working-age group caught up with the younger population, surpassing them by 1970 to become the majority. As of 2010, the working-age group accounted for 53 percent of the population and, with a low unemployment rate, contributed to a more robust workforce in Tennessee. The dependence of children and seniors on the working-age population has declined consistently over the years. Among the three cohorts, the proportion of seniors, although small, grew at a steady pace to 13.4 percent of the population by 2010.

By the turn of the century, a majority of Tennessee’s population lived in urban areas, with slightly more women than men and a thriving working-age population supporting children and seniors. The findings from this study serve as a basis for future analysis on workforce, education, healthcare, housing, and tourism across communities in Tennessee.

A tool to visualize county population changes over the past century was developed as part of the study. The poster and data visualization tool can be accessed here.

Launch Issue

March 2018 Main Topics

Rural America Counts: A Blueprint for Reinvesting in Rural America

Vibrant, resilient, and sustainable rural communities are the focus of the President’s Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity Report and resulted in five priority areas: e-connectivity, quality of life, workforce development, technological innovation, and rural economic development. All of these priorities are being addressed at various land grant universities through the Cooperative Extension Service (CES) and Experiment Stations and many of these activities are coordinated by the four Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDCs). At the suggestion of CES leadership, the RRDCs developed Rural America Counts, which serves as a blueprint for reinvesting in rural America, using the above priorities as a framework for mobilizing the resources of the land grant system.

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The North Carolina Farmworkers Health and Safety Education Program - North Carolina State University

Farming and agriculture workforce constitute an important core of North Carolina’s economy as about 17% of its income comes from the agriculture and agribusiness industry. The state is recognized as the number one tobacco and sweet potato producer in the country, and the second in Christmas tree production. In 2016, there were 83,723 total farmworkers in the state and North Carolina ranks second in the number of H2A workers. Because of the sheer size of this population and the critical role they play in our agriculture system, facilitating this group’s health and safety is imperative.

The agriculture workforce also constitutes a vulnerable group as they face risk factors such low socioeconomic status, i.e. average income is $10-12,499.00 and limited access to health care; health risk factor, i.e. exposure to pesticide, harmful weather, and nicotine and mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety. Farmworkers suffer from the highest rate of toxic chemical injuries. In one day, workers can absorb the amount of nicotine found in 36 cigarettes. One in four farmworkers report having been injured on the job in their lifetime. Farmworkers have a 20% increased risk of developing symptoms of Heat Stress.

Furthermore, farmers and their families are also exposed to stressors that may affect their life. Harvest and planting seasons may add tension to the family’s dynamic as well as stressors related to farming, such as, uncontrollable weather, exposure to pesticides, variable crop prices, and machinery breakdowns.

Consequently, there is a need to provide educational programs to promote preventive behaviors among farmworkers, farmworkers' employers, and their families to improve agriculture workforce health and safety. This is essential for the farm economy, but also the quality of life of much of our rural community.

The Farmworkers Health and Safety Comprehensive Program addresses the need by developing a program model where the farmworker, his/her family, growers, crew leaders, Cooperative Extension, Philip Morris International, and the community work together to enhance the quality of life of the farm community. Furthermore, the program has offered NCCE an effective mechanism to connect and engage with the farmworkers community.

The Farmworkers Health and Safety Education Program is based on the belief that everyone involved in the agriculture industry, which includes farmers/producers, crew leaders/contractors (“farmworkers’ employers”), farmworkers, and their families are exposed to risk factors, stressors, and educational needs that call for an education program that recognizes and includes all of them. The program builds and strengthens relationships between all parties involved as well as community partners in order to enhance the well-being of the Farm Working Community. The program has six primary components:

  1. Improve communication between farmers, farmworkers, crew leaders, contractors, and Extension agents about important safety and health practices on the farm.
  2. Provide health and safety training on pesticide, heat stress, green tobacco illness to farmers, crew leaders, contractors, farmworkers and their families.
  3. Serve as a resource to growers as they work to provide a healthy work environment on their farm.
  4. Promote the development of a stakeholders’ network to identify educational needs and opportunities for farmworkers and their families.
  5. Connect farmworkers and their families with other Extension resources such as youth development, nutrition and food safety programs, as well as with other community resources.
  6. Serve as a resource to farmworkers' employers to meet EPA Workers Protection Standard and U.S. Tobacco Agriculture Practice farmworkers training requirements, i.e. annual mandatory training for workers and record keeping of worker training.

NC Cooperative Extension has successfully implemented this model for educating farmworkers’ employers, farmworkers, and their families through grant funding. In 2012, through a partnership with AmeriCorps SAFE Program and Pender County Extension, 892 farmworkers were training on pesticide training, 295 received training on heat stress, and 20 José Aprende trainings were conducted. In 2015, through a partnership with the NC Farmworkers Health Program, 192 workers were trained on WPS, Heat Stress, and Green Tobacco Illness in Ashe and Alleghany counties. Since 2014, through an ongoing partnership with Philip Morris International, 2133 workers have been trained on WPS, Heat Stress, and Green Tobacco Illness in Wayne County, 475 community members including the families of farmworkers were educated on pesticide safety through community events, and 500+ participants attended the First Farmworkers Health and Safety Festival. Additionally, 115 workers were trained on WPS, Heat Stress, and Green Tobacco Illness through a partnership with Universal Leaf, 205 workers were training on WPS through a partnership with GAP Connections, and 275 workers were trained on WPS through collaboration with Ashe and Alleghany Farmworkers Safety Day.

In addition to on-farm training, our bilingual educators have become integral members of the local extension offices and are essential team members in the work to find innovative solutions and approaches to improving the lives of NC Farmworkers.


Launch Issue

February 2018 Main Topics

Bonnie Teater Award Nominations Due March 20, 2018

Each year, the SRDC honors someone who has excelled in community development work within Extension Service in the South. On even numbered years, we seek to honor a person with the Bonnie Teater Community Development Lifetime Achievement award. We need your help! Nominations are now open, so please consider nominating someone that has excelled in this arena. The nominee must be currently employed by one of the 29 land-grant universities located in the Southern Rural Development Center region; serve as an administrator, specialist or agent who has worked in the Extension CD area for at least TEN years at the state, multi-county and/or county levels. An individual who has retired over the past 12 months and who, at the time of his/her retirement, met the conditions outlined, is eligible for consideration.

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Tackling the Opioid Epidemic in Virginia from a Community-Based Perspective – Virginia Cooperative Extension

Like many other states, the opioid addiction crisis in Virginia has been declared a public health emergency. In 2013, it became the number one cause of unnatural death in Virginia. And the trend has continued to increase, with opioid deaths rising 40.3 percent from 2015-2016. To address these challenges, Virginia Cooperative Extension launched the Preventing Opioid Abuse in Rural Virginia project, with USDA Rural Health and Safety Education funding. With partners, we are implementing the PROSPER evidence-based delivery system in Grayson and Henry Counties and the city of Martinsville. Through PROSPER (Promoting School-Community-University Partnerships to Enhance Resilience), local community teams are formed in each PROSPER community to guide programming and build sustainability. The teams are led jointly by an Extension agent and a representative from the school system. As the teams guide programming, all 6th graders and their families are recruited to participate in family-level education, for which we are using the SFP 10-14 evidence-based curriculum. It’s a universal, community-wide strategy, targeting all youth in the 6th grade, as well as their families. There is also a school-based component for Life Skills Training for all 7th graders. The research evidence for PROSPER indicates that there is a ripple effect, in that even youth who do not participate are positively impacted by the program.

In addition to PROSPER and its related components, a research-informed approach is being implemented through the Virginia Rural Health Association as a partner on this project. The Hospital Patient Education Program (HPEP) is being used to train health-care providers at rural hospitals to deliver a low-literacy training to patients arriving at the hospital that are taking a prescription opioid, or are being prescribed one at the visit. The one-on-one education, which often will include family members, explains the risks associated with taking an opioid, the importance of taking it only as prescribed, and how to avoid overdose.

As the work is occurring, we are also working closely with all Extension partners on complementary projects in the localities being served, as well as statewide to maximize resources and foster sustainability. Expanding the vision of the PROSPER community team to this project will provide opportunities for greater interaction as the team focuses on ways to address the opioid misuse and abuse problem through multiple community approaches.
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Launch Issue

January 2018 Main Topics

The 2017-18 Southern CRD Webinar Series Continues:
How Can I Be of Service? Determining the Best Role for Community Engagement

January 25, 2018 @ 1:00pm CT/2:00pm ET

Cooperative Extension has a mandate to assess community needs and assist with community issues, but how agents engage with communities will vary by topic, need and situation. This webinar is an interactive session that will explore different roles agents might fill as they work for community change. We will discuss the different roles Extension can serve when creating community change including: informing, being a catalyst for change, innovating change; or orchestrating change – and when and how these roles may change.

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Healthier Together in Calhoun and Taliaferro Counties – University of Georgia

In 2016, the University of Georgia received a two-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to boost obesity prevention efforts in Georgia's most impacted rural counties—Calhoun and Taliaferro—each with an adult obesity prevalence of over 40 percent. Involving multiple University and community partners, a cross-programming approach was crafted to address obesity through Cooperative Extension. Fittingly, the project was named Healthier Together. University partners include Cooperative Extension, the College of Public Health, the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and the Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.

The primary goal of Healthier Together Calhoun/Taliaferro is to implement environmental changes to promote healthy eating and physical activity in places where youth and families spend their time. Interventions involve forming a community coalition to work with schools, community organizations, local government and businesses to serve and sell healthy food, create places to be physically active and address local policy issues that influence healthy living.

A multi-sector community approach promotes robust outcomes and long-term impact. After the first year of implementation, notable outcomes include the following: six community groups have installed 30 raised bed gardens, walking trails are being constructed, walkability of communities is being addressed by local officials, and new physical activities for youth and adults are being offered. Fresh Stop, a structured CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) style farmer’s market is underway through partnership with the Georgia Farmer’s Market Association. In addition, school cafeterias are adopting Smarter Lunchroom policies and practices, cancer prevention cooking schools are being offered and 4-H youth development activities have increased. Success stories are taking on a very personal nature in this project: a volunteer at the community garden, who also participated in the cooking class, used veggies from the garden and recipes from class to improve her family’s diet. This volunteer’s husband had pre-diabetes, and with lifestyle changes supported by Healthier Together, he has lost 20 lbs. Calhoun and Taliaferro counties are enacting sustainable, evidence-based practices for increasing the health of their residents. These outcomes also have positive impact on the economic vibrancy of the communities and their capacity to address issues through inter-agency collaboration as residents engage in addressing health concerns together.

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