Rural Renewal Monitor



Program targets rural schools

The Chicago Tribune | By Associated Press | June 20, 2009

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A new program intended to put more math, science and technology teachers in rural Indiana schools is moving ahead with a first class of nearly 60 teachers.

Fifty-eight applicants were chosen from a pool of more than 300 with backgrounds in math, technology, engineering and science for the Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellowship program.

Eighteen of those fellows will attend Purdue University and 20 each will attend IUPUI and the University of Indianapolis. Ball State University will take a class of fellows next summer.

Each student will receive a $30,000 stipend during the one-year master's program to nurture them and turn them into teachers. In the second year, they'll teach full-time in rural schools.

Lauren Klemme of West Lafayette, a 2002 Purdue graduate who specializes in math, said she was attracted to the program because of the small-town focus.

"I really liked the rural aspect of it," she said. "I spent five years working and living in Chicago, and I never really got into city life, so I would love to teach math at a rural high school."

In addition to the one-year stipends, Purdue will provide the fellows with graduate tuition scholarships.

The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, based in Princeton, N.J., and Lilly Endowment Inc. are providing the funding for the fellowship.

Helping the Rural Homeless in Tennessee

The Atlantic | June 21, 2009 | By Christina Davidson

scottcty2.JPGOn a slightly-more-than-one-lane road, off a winding country drive, off TN-63 deep in the forested beauty of the eastern Cumberland Plateau, a new homeless shelter opened its doors five months ago. Partially shielded from the road by a dense thicket of trees, the former abandoned building now housing the Scott County Homeless Shelter would look still abandoned if it weren't for the cars parked outside.

Only after entering the door marked "office" do I realize I've just walked into someone's living space without invitation. Faux pas already committed, I sheepishly sit down at a kitchen table to wait for its resident to finish a phone call.

A big screen TV dominates one end of the windowless room, broadcasting closed-circuit video monitoring six different areas of the shelter. Cases of soda, bottled water, and iced tea are stacked against one cement block wall.  In a small bedroom off to one side, crumpled and twisted blue sheets typical of one who does not enjoy the luxury of a good night's sleep lie on top of a mattress on the floor.

Jerry Voiles emerges from his office with a big smile on his face. He's gregarious and energetic with a bushy mustache and an easy southern twang. I like him immediately.

Voiles spent the better part of his professional life earning six figures in the telecommunications industry. Then in the early 1990s he started reading the Bible. The deeper he got into the Good Book, the more an unsettling realization began to gnaw at him. "I had my priorities totally out of whack," he admits.

Within a few years, his complete spiritual evolution launched him down the path of serving others before himself.  Now well into his 50s, Jerry only earns a $15,000 annual salary in his position as executive director of the new homeless shelter, though every word he speaks evinces the non-monetary riches his work endows.

If he sees someone in need, Gerry does what he can to help. The plight of others makes the minor discomforts of his own life irrelevant, and the human connections he establishes nurture his soul. "I'm concerned about other people," he says. "I'm worried they won't have enough food to feed their families. I have to do what I can to help."

Homelessness is not an entirely new phenomenon in the rural wilderness of the upper Cumberland Plateau, but with local unemployment rates jumping from 7.5% in 2007 to 18.3% today, increasing numbers of Scott County's 22,000 residents have found themselves unable to manage ordinary household expenses. There are no hard statistics documenting the extent of homelessness in the county, but increasing appeals to the area's social service organizations represent a growing crisis of significant proportions. Read more about Helping the Rural Homeless in Tennessee

Rural bankers: Economy is weak, worst is over

Forbes.com | June 19, 2009 | By the Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. -- A new survey of rural bankers in 11 Midwest and Plains states suggests the region's economy remains weak, but the bankers believe the worst of the recession has passed.

The Rural Mainstreet survey's overall index remained in negative territory in June when it slipped to 34 from May's 36.2. The survey, which indicates the economic health of smaller towns and rural areas, has an index that ranges between 0 and 100. Any score below 50 on the index suggests a contracting economy over the next three to six months and any score above 50 indicates a growing economy over that time.

Creighton University economics professor Ernie Goss said weaker farm income, closures and cutbacks for rural manufacturers and a weak U.S. economy continue to drag on the region's economy. But the overall index has improved significantly since setting a record low of 16.9 in February. Read more about Rural bankers: Economy is weak, worst is over

Rural Americans Adopt Broadband, But Gap Remains

Pew Internet & American Life Project The percentage of Americans relying on dial-up connection to the Internet has dropped steadily. However, a third of those with dial-up live in rural America.

Rural Americans increased their adoption of broadband Internet technology at a rapid rate over the last year, according to a report released today by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, but rural communities still lag far behind urban regions in the spread of fast Internet connections. Read more about Rural Americans Adopt Broadband, But Gap Remains

Speak Your Piece: It's Story Time at the White House

DailyYonder.com | June 16, 2009 | By Francisco Guajardo

story telling llano grande
Courtesy of Francisco Guajardo
Students from Edcouch Elsa (Texas) High School, Jessica Rodriguez and Orlando Castillo, interviewed 90-year-old Elsa resident Marciana Zavala. Community stories are a strong foundation for rural education, and can communicate educational policy, too.

The Obama Administration put together a gathering to talk about rural education on May 22, and  I was there,  traveling from rural south Texas to Washington, D.C., to participate. I went representing the Center for Rural Strategies (publisher of the Daily Yonder),  as well as the Rural School and Community Trust, the Llano Grande Center, University of Texas Pan American, the Community Learning Exchange, and other organizations engaged with rural schools. Read more about Speak Your Piece: It's Story Time at the White House

Rural teachers wanted

STEM program recruits

WLFI.com | June 15, 209 | By Niccole Caan

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - A new program at Purdue will train math and science teachers for rural Indiana schools. The program will help ease the shortage of math and science teachers in rural high schools. Eighteen people arrived at Purdue for the first-ever program called STEM goes rural. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. The program is for people transitioning from a math and science related career to teaching. The future teachers are paid a 30-thousand dollar stipend to attend the new master's degree program at Purdue. In exchange, the they will teach math or science for three years in a rural community. Those selected for the program say they are looking forward to sharing their knowledge in high-need schools.

"Everything is changing quickly. So, it's important now more than ever to have teachers to teach these type of things," said future teacher Nathan Inman.

Program fast-tracks teachers to rural Alaska

KTUU.com | June 14, 2009 | By Leyla Santiago

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The effort to enlist more teachers for Alaska is moving along quickly, thanks to a new program that is recruiting from around the nation for 2010.

Ten future teachers are already enrolled in summer school to start their training. But these aren't your average student teachers.

When it comes to crunching number for Alaska schools the math is simple. The Department of Education wants to add more school teachers to the payroll in order to subtract from the shortage of teachers.

USDA: Obama plans to finance rural areas

AgWeek | June 15, 2009 | By Jerry Hagstrom

WASHINGTON — Agriculture Undersecretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager said June 10 that the Obama administration plans to allocate more grants and loans in rural areas that are more distant from cities rather than the exurban areas that have received a lot of the housing, water and sewer, utilities and business development money that the rural development division administers. Read more about USDA: Obama plans to finance rural areas

Speak Your Piece: Missing on the Supreme Court — Rural

If Judge Sonia Sotomayor is elevated to the Supreme Court, four of nine justices will come from New York City. Sotomayor grew up in this housing project in the Bronx.

With the swirl of barbs and recriminations over Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s U.S. Supreme Court nomination centering on race, little attention is being paid to what is a glaring lack of representation on the high court: Rural America.

If Sotomayor is confirmed, she will break a barrier as the first Latino to be seated on the Supreme Court. But as she joins the court and Justice David Souter, who grew up in Weare, N.H., leaves, the Court’s collection of nine biographies will be decidedly urban, Eastern and heavy on Ivy League education. Read more about Speak Your Piece: Missing on the Supreme Court — Rural

Affordable Health Insurance Elusive In Rural U.S.

Weekend Edition, NPR.org | June 13, 2009 | By Howard Berkes

Larry Harbour of Broken Box, Neb.
Larry Harbour of Broken Bow, Neb., sprays chrome plating on plastic wheel caps in his detail shop. Like many rural small business owners, Harbour finds health insurance too expensive but worries that he's one injury or illness away from losing his business.

Larry Harbour is celebrated in Nebraska as a model entrepreneur. But the 33-year-old owner of LB Custom Chrome and Detail in rural Broken Bow, Neb., is an illness or injury away from losing his business.

"If anything were to happen to my wife and I, the business is sunk," Harbour said, standing in the shop he built from scratch. "It's like playing Russian roulette. Everyday, we wonder when it's going to happen — if something's going to happen, are we able to afford it?"

Harbour has a son and daughter who are covered by a state health insurance plan for children. He and his wife searched for their own coverage, but found premiums would cost from $24,000 to $40,000 a year, plus a $2,000 deductible. Both are healthy and young, and both work supplemental jobs as school bus drivers, but the jobs don't come with insurance.

He said the insurance he and his wife investigated was basic, to the point where the couple would have to pay more for the insurance than they would for the health care they'd receive.

"It's unaffordable for me, especially being a small business owner, because I don't have a certain amount of employees to be able to get a better rate," Harbour said.

The Harbours are not alone. Half of all jobs in rural places are tied to small businesses, a rate 13 percent higher than in cities and suburbs. And people who work for small businesses are twice as likely to be uninsured, according to Jon Bailey of the Center for Rural Affairs in Lyons, Neb. Read more about Affordable Health Insurance Elusive In Rural U.S.

Chrysler's Closings Penalize Rural Dealers

Of the 789 car dealerships forced to close in Chrysler's bankruptcy, a disproportionate number are rural businesses.

DailyYonder.com | June 11, 2009 | By Julie Ardrey

map of Chrysler closings This map shows the Chrysler dealerships that lost their franchises June 9. Metro dealerships are in gray. Reds and blues are all rural. In red are the most rural locations, areas with populations under 10,000; in blue are micropolitan rural areas. Click on the map to see a larger version.

On Tuesday, Chrysler ended its contracts with nearly a quarter of its car and truck dealers across the country as part of the corporation’s bankruptcy and restructuring. In an analysis of those closings and 2008 U.S. Census estimates, the Daily Yonder has found that the number of rural car dealers who’ve lost their Chrysler franchises is disproportionately high.

According to U.S. Census estimates (2008), 16.5% of Americans live in non-metro communities. But 32.5% of the dealerships losing their Chrysler franchises are non-metro. Read more about Chrysler's Closings Penalize Rural Dealers

What Makes A Good Rural School?

Richard Bryant is principal of the F.S. Ervin Elementary School in Pine Hill, Alabama, one of the ten best rural elementary schools in the state. Every child at the school qualifies for a free or reduced price lunch. Bryant began working for the schools as a bus driver in the early 1970s.

Three Alabamians went looking for the best of that state’s rural schools. They drove more than 10,000 miles, conducted more than 300 interviews and tested hundreds of teachers. “We did not expect to find Lake Wobegon where Garrison Keillor tells us ‘all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average,’” they wrote. 

And they didn’t. But Gerald Carter, Larry Lee and Owen Sweatt did find ten outstanding rural schools that were thriving in small communities despite troubled economic times. The three were working with the Center for Rural Alabama and they recently put their findings in a report, “Lessons Learned From Rural Schools.”  Read more about What Makes A Good Rural School?

$3.5 million grant will expand care to rural veterans

TuscaloosaNews.com | June 11, 2009 | By Wayne Grayson, Staff Writer

For many veterans, the best medicine after the chaos of war has been living out the rest of their lives in the quiet of rural West Alabama.

But the quiet can only heal so much, and the distance between rural veterans and the city can be a barrier to receiving medical attention.

With the help of a recent $3.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s Alabama Rural Health Program is launching three initiatives to reach out to veterans in rural West Alabama.

From that grant, $2 million will go toward the development of a Rural Health Resource Center housed within the medical center. The program will employ six workers who will reach out to veterans in rural West and Central Alabama counties. Read more about $3.5 million grant will expand care to rural veterans

Vilsack: Revitalize rural America

Delta Farm Press | June 11, 2009 | By Ray Nabors, Contributing Writer

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack visited the Delta Center in Portageville, Mo., recently for a rural community forum to discuss USDA plans to revitalize and rebuild rural America.

“President Obama and I are committed to investing in and revitalizing rural communities, in part because they play an important role in our national and international food delivery system,” Vilsack said.

Vilsack spoke of providing more off-farm job opportunities as one target program for agriculture. According to USDA, most farm families work 200 days a year off the farm.

Another concern for Vilsack is the aging farm population. The average age of the American farmer has gone from 55 to 57 in just five years, the largest increase in history.

Young persons are leaving the farm seeking other opportunities in urban environments. There has been a 20 percent decrease in farmers under 25 years of age. Read more about Vilsack: Revitalize rural America

CEO: Broadband Vital for Rural Areas

HDM Breaking News | June 10, 2009 | By Joseph Goedert

Home-based remote disease management technologies and telemedicine can improve the quality of life for rural patients while reducing the nation's health care burden, a telecommunications leader specializing in broadband communication in rural areas testified before a federal advisory committee on June 9.

"However, none of this is possible without access to a quality high-speed broadband Internet connection," said Jay Maxwell, CEO at Pixius Communications, Wichita, Kan. "While this access is common in urban and suburban areas, it is almost a luxury in rural America. Is it a coincidence that rural America is also an area that is unserved or underserved by medical facilities and practitioners? Rural America is an area with a population that is aging and placing increased demands on scarce healthcare resources."

Maxwell testified in Rapid City, S.D., at a public hearing of the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services, established to advise the Department of Health and Human Services. In Kansas, he noted, 29% of the population is rural but only 4% of the doctors. Read more about CEO: Broadband Vital for Rural Areas

Web site is watchdog for environmental change in rural Alaska

The Cordova Times | June 9, 2009 | By Newspaper Staff

Fish with strange spots. Sinkholes in the tundra. Crumbling river banks.

The scenes appear in a handful of photos posted at www.nunat.net, a fledgling Web site created to provide a record of changes linked to global warming, subsistence resources and village life.

The site’s database is a year old. It was designed to give rural Alaskans a way to share information and document the changes around them, especially those who spend a lot of time outdoors, said its creator, Brad Garness.

“People who live a subsistence hunting and fishing lifestyle generally have a unique view regarding climate change and why animals behave the way they do,” Garness said. Read more about Web site is watchdog for environmental change in rural Alaska

Rural Entrepreneurs v. Straw Men

An article in Economic Development Journal (Winter, 2009) poses a challenge for those of us working on rural sustainability. “Coming Full Circle: The End of the Small Business Era?” analyzes data from the Small Business Administration to show that the share of small business jobs in the economy has not changed since 1980.
Read more about Rural Entrepreneurs v. Straw Men

Preservation, growth unite rural residents

Longtime social club takes on activist role in Triune

http://cmsimg.tennessean.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=DN&Date=20090607&Category=COUNTY090101&ArtNo=906070324&Ref=AR&Profile=1327&MaxW=318&Border=0
 
Paul Jenkins cuts William Brindley's hair at Triune Barber Shop at Horton Highway and Neal Road. JEANNE REASONOVER / THE TENNESSEAN
   
The Tennessean | June 8, 2009 | By Suzanne Normand Blackwood
 
TRIUNE COMMUNITY — As Williamson County planners begin to focus more on the future of the area's unincorporated communities, Triune residents want to be ready when their time comes.

With discussions already under way about nearby College Grove, Triune residents know that issues such as residential growth, economic development, infrastructure and historic preservation will soon be surfacing where they live.

Anticipation and concern about these issues has even prompted members of the Triune Community Club to begin organizing in ways the club has never done before.

Club's mission grows

The Triune Community Club predates the Triune Community Center, which was built about 1950. Before the center was built, the club met at a nearby school.

Ginger Shirling, a lifetime member, said the club initially existed as a social group. About two years ago, however, the club's mission began to develop into something more.

"We became aware of the fact that growth issues were dominating the conversations," Shirling said.

That's when the club began organizing into various committees to focus on not just growth, but also historic preservation, publicity and outreach. Read more about Preservation, growth unite rural residents

Rural Americans long to be linked

USA Today | June 8, 2006 | By Leslie Cauley

PLAINS, Texas — The people who live here are still waiting for the digital revolution to arrive.

The local phone company, Windstream, offers high-speed DSL service in part of Plains (population: around 1,450). But those who live outside the city limits, including farmers such as Jeff Roper, don't have a lot of choice.

Roper currently uses ERF Wireless, which provides service in more remote areas. He says the service, which costs $40 a month for a 1.5-megabit connection, is pretty good, though it sometimes goes down for days at a time.

To help run his 2,400-acre farm, he spent $65,000 on equipment for a satellite-based GPS service for his tractors, useful for navigation in the field. Broadband, handy for a variety of diagnostic and operational purposes such as irrigation and real-time weather monitoring, isn't available — so Roper and other farmers in this West Texas community do without.

Rural folks aren't prone to complain, Roper says. They work hard, love their communities and wouldn't think of living anywhere else. But that doesn't mean they don't want, and need, to be connected to the outside world.

"Just because we live in rural America doesn't mean we shouldn't have broadband," says Roper, a third-generation peanut farmer. "We're all Americans. We shouldn't be treated less than anyone else." Read more about Rural Americans long to be linked

Hillsboro’s renaissance

Small town thrives so much that woman makes it subject of doctoral dissertation. Unlike many rural towns that have suffered from decreasing population, migrating young adults, fewer farms and decaying infrastructure, Hillsboro has maintained and gained.

Grand Forks Herald | June 6, 2009 | By Rick Bakken

Mike Bitz

HILLSBORO, N.D. — When Mike Bitz became the Hillsboro superintendent of schools 10 years ago, seven consecutive school bond issue votes had lost. The last of them was drubbed with only 25 percent support.

Yet, in 2002, a $2.5 million school bond issue passed with 85 percent approval. So, 60 percent of the voters changed their minds in just three years. It was an amazing reversal for any project, but especially so for the Hillsboro Sports Center, which is predominantly a gym.

Bitz credited a different package for the vote swing. Property taxes and a city sales tax would pay for it, easing some of the burden on rural landowners.

Another motive to vote for the HSC was that it included a 24/7 fitness center that would be available to everyone in the region. Worry about losing their school to consolidation was another factor.

Those factors helped swing the vote. But community members also credit Bitz’s salesmanship. He gave 16 presentations to local groups. He not only recruited supporters, but also critics. He landed the endorsement of an influential landowner who was the most vocal opponent in the previous vote.

That vote is a prime example of the turnaround of this town of 1,600 people. Unlike many rural towns that have suffered from decreasing population, migrating young adults, fewer farms and decaying infrastructure, Hillsboro has maintained and gained.

Improvements for rural vets discussed

The Tundra Drums | June 4, 2009 | By Staff

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki told U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski last week that he wants to try to ease the serious VA healthcare access problems facing veterans in rural Alaska, according to a news release.

At a meeting in the senator’s office, Murkowski invited Shinseki to visit Alaska and see those challenges first hand. Shinseki said he would like to visit the state.

Murkowski used the 45-minute meeting with Shinseki to reiterate a variety of concerns regarding VA health care in Alaska, the senator’s news release said.

Veterans in Fairbanks and Southeast are being asked to fly to Seattle and Anchorage for treatment that the VA can’t provide in their hometowns but community providers can. Veterans in rural Alaska receive no VA health care unless they can travel to a VA facility, often at their own expense. Read more about Improvements for rural vets discussed

Rural teen drivers face higher risk of being in a fatal crash

The Boomerang! | June 4, 2009 | By Staff

A study released by Allstate Insurance Company finds that teen drivers in rural parts of the country are more than twice as likely to be in a fatal car crash as their peers in urban areas.

The study, which reviewed 2000-2006 federal crash statistics and Allstate claims data on teen driving fatalities, found that out of every 100,000 teen drivers on rural roadways, 51.47 will be in a fatal crash. In urban areas, that number drops to 25.4.

"Even one fatality is too high," said Michelle Lee, Allstate Northwest Region Field Vice President. "We remain committed to our efforts to educate parents and teens about safe driving." Read more about Rural teen drivers face higher risk of being in a fatal crash

Buying The Farm: A Good Bet For Rural Retirees

All Things Considered, NPR.org | June 3, 2009 | By Howard Berkes

Dan and Lorna Wilson invested in their hog, corn and soybean farm in Paullina, Iowa.When the economy suffers, the nation's farmers also suffer — including those close to retirement. At least, that's been the pattern in the past. But in the current recession, those who invested in farmland — and not 401(k) retirement accounts — made good bets for retirement.

"The thing about farmland [is] it's still producing income," says Dan Wilson, 57, who raises corn, soybeans, grain and organic hogs on 640 acres in Paullina, Iowa. "As long as it can keep producing a crop and the crop's worth something, [farmland] is a good thing to own."

Crops have been worth plenty in the corn and soybean belt in the Midwest, even with a recent dip in some commodity prices.

"Corn prices, soybean prices, wheat prices — all those have been pretty strong until very recently," says Ernie Goss, an economist at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. Read more about Buying The Farm: A Good Bet For Rural Retirees

Nebraska seeks federal money for rural transit

World-Herald Bureau | June 3, 2009 | By Paul Hammel

LINCOLN -- Nebraska has applied for nearly $5.3 million in federal stimulus funds for transit programs in rural areas, including those that serve the elderly, Gov. Dave Heineman said Wednesday.

The federal stimulus law set aside more than $9.8 million for public transit projects in Nebraska’s rural areas, as part of $23 million in funding for projects that help local transit authorities acquire, construct and improve mass transportation options.

Read more about Nebraska seeks federal money for rural transit

Rural entrepreneurs compete in global marketplace

The Times-Republican | June 2, 2009 | By Jens Manuel Krogstad, The Associated Press

NEW HAMPTON - As large employers continue their exodus from rural America, a rising tide of small business owners has sprouted in its wake, with varying degrees of success.

The trend is not new, but the sheer numbers of people pushed to self-employment out of economic necessity is reaching a critical mass. According to several estimates, 20 to 30 percent of rural Americans will be self-employed by 2015.

"It's huge," said Maureen Collins-Williams, director of University of Northern Iowa Regional Business Center.

Even as global forces have pushed employers away, technology offers geographically and socially isolated entrepreneurs hope that they can compete in a global marketplace.

The regional center started the nationally recognized MyEntre.net several years ago as a traveling business incubator to train and network small business owners across Iowa.

In the past month, it re-launched its Web site to focus on social networking, a kind of Facebook for Iowa's small businesses. They can learn about each other, connect and collaborate.

Rural Broadband To Be FCC Priority, Acting Chair Says

TMCnet.com | June 1, 2009 | By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

What with everything else going on these days, the government has concluded that “all rural Americans must have the opportunity to reap the full benefits of broadband services,” according to Federal Communications Commission officials.

To that end, Acting FCC Chairman Michael J. Copps released a report providing what he characterized as a “starting point” for the development of policies to deliver broadband to rural areas.

Congress in the 2008 Farm Bill required the FCC Chairman, in coordination with the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, to submit a report to Congress describing a rural broadband strategy. Catchily titled “Bringing Broadband to Rural America: Report on a Rural Broadband Strategy,” the report by Copps identifies such common problems affecting rural broadband as “technological challenges, lack of data and high network costs.”

This is an agricultural concern? Mais oui, city slicker. According to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack: “Providing broadband access to rural communities will not only enhance farmers and ranchers’ ability to market goods and enhance production, it will help residents in rural communities obtain needed medical care, gain access to higher education, and benefit from resulting economic activity and job growth.” Read more about Rural Broadband To Be FCC Priority, Acting Chair Says

Many Summer Internships Are Going Organic

The New York Times | May 24, 2009 | By Kim Severson

Erin Axelrod, who graduated from Barnard College last week with an urban studies degree, will not be fighting over the bathroom with her five roommates on the Upper West Side this summer. Instead she will be living in a tent, using an outdoor composting toilet and harvesting vegetables on an organic farm near Petaluma, Calif.

As the sole intern at a boutique dairy in upstate New York, Gina Runfola, an English and creative writing student, has traded poetry books for sheep.

And Jamie Katz, an English major at Kenyon College in Ohio, is planting peach trees at Holly Tree Farm in Virginia.

These three are part of a new wave of liberal arts students who are heading to farms as interns this summer, in search of both work, even if it might pay next to nothing, and social change. Read more about Many Summer Internships Are Going Organic

Sociologists decry proposed program cut

Seattle Post-Intelligencer | May 15, 2009 | By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

PULLMAN, Wash. -- Washington State University's budget-driven plan to kill its department of rural sociology is drawing criticism from experts in the field.

An association of social scientists from throughout the nation purchased advertisements in The Spokesman-Review and the Moscow-Pullman Daily News to protest the proposed elimination of the department of community and rural sociology.

"Abolishing this nationally esteemed program is not a constructive answer to your budget problems," the Rural Sociological Society wrote in an open letter to the WSU administration.

The letter is signed by 21 current and former presidents of the society. Read more about Sociologists decry proposed program cut

Rural Outsourcing Delivers Record Results in Duluth, Minnesota

PR Web Press Release Newswire | May 19, 2009

Saturn Systems Software Engineering has reported record results for 2008 with its Rural Outsourcing business model. Financial results for 2008 show a 25% increase in revenue which is consistent with Saturn’s growth pattern over the past three years. Equally strong first quarter results for 2009 indicate another record year is in the making. Saturn Systems, a provider of custom enterprise solutions and device control software, is seeing consistent growth in companies searching for lower cost, onshore resources to provide custom software solutions.

(Vocus/PRWEB ) May 19, 2009 -- Saturn Systems Software Engineering has reported record results for 2008 with its Rural Outsourcing business model. Financial results for 2008 show a 25% increase in revenue which is consistent with Saturn’s growth pattern over the past three years. Equally strong first quarter results for 2009 indicate another record year is in the making. Saturn Systems, a provider of custom enterprise solutions and device control software, is seeing consistent growth in companies searching for lower cost, onshore resources to provide custom software solutions.

CEO Jim Gustafson remarked, “Results like this during an economic downturn are proof positive that the rural outsourcing model works and may indicate that outsourcing patterns are changing.” Read more about Rural Outsourcing Delivers Record Results in Duluth, Minnesota

Farm Girl Saves Pigeon at Nonfat Cafe

The New York Times | May 15, 2009 | By Sarah Shey

FROM all available evidence, no one in New York had ever encountered a farm girl from Iowa. It did not occur to me there could be people living in such a smart, cosmopolitan city as New York who could not imagine the barbed wire of my rural childhood. But this was the case. It can be explained only on the basis that city people shop in cities, vacation in other cities and travel on business from city to city.

City dwellers have no reason to go to farm country unless they are in the mood to pick apples, or lucky enough to have farming roots. With the mention of my home state, it was over for me before it began.

I was unprepared for such a collective reaction. Just days before boarding a plane in Des Moines, I had boasted that I’d get along O.K. in New York because I could at least speak the language, a skill I didn’t have while living in Eastern Europe. I was in for a surprise. New York was the first place I lived that shared neither a topography nor a mind-set with rural Iowa. For the first time, I was living among people who spent most of their lives indoors — in apartments, in offices, in gyms, in restaurants. I couldn’t get over that.

A repairman introduced me to this notion of urban insularity when he connected my telephone just days after I moved into my first apartment, on West 115th Street. I offered him something to drink, just as my mother would have; my mother did not discriminate with the coffeepot: Veterinarians, hired hands, cattle buyers, cleaning women — all drank coffee and ate toast at her table. Read more about Farm Girl Saves Pigeon at Nonfat Cafe

Rural teachers witness many years of change

Online Recorder | May 15, 2009 | By Casandra Leff

By the late 1940s and into the 1950s, rural schools were facing a serious challenge in the form of a shortage of teachers. As life and career options for young men and women expanded, not as many people were turning to teaching as a profession.

That meant that schools had to relax some of the standards they had for teachers. As long as there had been rural schools, teachers could not be married. Simply put, a married teacher was not a teacher. As the years passed, though, that rule was slowly relaxed.

In 1951, Dorothy (Gay) Wallace embarked on the second chapter of her teaching career, over a decade after she first left the profession. Wallace, a former student at the Mossville school (Jenkins No. 2), had received her Normal Training and graduated from Riceville with her teaching certificate in 1939. Later that fall, she returned to Mossville to teach.

Rural America asks: What recession?

Patchwork Nation Blog: Christain Science Monitor | May 6, 2009 | By Dante Chinni

In some areas of the country they wonder when the recession will end or at least hit bottom. But in one small agricultural community, they wonder what the recession feels like.

Tucked in the northwest corner of the Iowa, Sioux Center seems a million miles away from Fed chairman Ben Bernanke’s improving-but-still-troubled assessment of the US economy on Tuesday. Construction is still happening here, and new houses and lots around the new golf course are still selling – with no drop in prices. The owner of a local furniture store says last year was his best … ever.

America may still be months away from the national economic turnaround, but when economists and journalists hash out the story of what really happened, they may want to look at places like Sioux Center and ask, “Why not there?” Read more about Rural America asks: What recession?

An American Heartland Renaissance

Forbes.com Blog | May 12, 2009 | By Rich Karlgaard

Today I'm in Crookston, Minn., whose population is ... well, Wikipedia says Crookston's population is

"estimated at 7,727."

For some reason, this strikes me as really funny--an estimate of a precise number. Crookston is in Minnesota's northwest quadrant, about 28.764 miles east on U.S. Highway 2 from Grand Forks, N.D.

The Northwest Minnesota Foundation had invited me to talk at their annual innovation conference on Tuesday morning. My topic was heartland entrepreneurship. This subject is dear to me, and one that I covered in my book, Life 2.0.

Four economic factors, I think, favor a revival of heartland entrepreneurship. Read more about An American Heartland Renaissance

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