Tim Fine

I am going to go a little off topic from what this column traditionally focuses on but there is a conference coming up that I think will be very good. So I guess if you are looking for agriculture or horticulture advice then you can stop reading. But, if you are concerned about the health and vitality of rural communities like ours then this will interest you.

On Sept. 9-10, Montana State University as a whole and Montana State Extension will be hosting a conference titled re-imagining rural. The actual conference will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 10, in Harlowton, but there is a lecture leading up to the conference on campus in Bozeman on Monday, Sept. 9.

The lecture on the Sept. 9 will be given by Ben Winchester who is a senior fellow at the University of Minnesota Extension’s Center for Rural Vitality. According to his bio, Ben is a leading voice regarding rural community vitality. His lecture will address current positive trends in rural communities that dispel common negative assumptions about the future of rural America.This lecture, hosted by MSU’s President, Dr. Waded Cruzado will begin at 6 p.m. in the Norm Asbjornson Hall. The purpose is to begin a conversation on advancing rural prosperity by showcasing national trends in rural America and stimulating discussion and action for support of Montana’s smaller communities.

And that is just the start. The next day will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will be packed full of talks, roundtable discussions, and participation from attendees all focused on enhancing our rural communities. The day will start with a welcome from Lieutenant Governor Mike Cooney and follow with Ben Winchester’s discussion on how we can re-write the rural narrative. Upon the completion of that there will be time for roundtable discussions for participants and then MSU Extension director Cody Stone will address the audience.

After lunch there will be two more talks. The first is titled “A Changing Rural Montana” and will focus on reimagining our role in how we work in and with rural communities. The second and final discussion for the day will be about working together better and moving forward. It is titled “What’s Next-Rewriting Montana’s Future.”

Monday’s event is free but there is a link for registering just so they know how many people to expect. It can be found at http://montana.edu/rsvp/reimagine. Tuesday’s conference is $50 per person but does include breakfast and lunch. Registration and agenda information can be found by going to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/reimagining-rural-gathering-tickets-66602581113.

If I did not already sign up for another conference during these dates, this is one that I would like to attend. I think it will be interesting to hear what someone who has conducted studies about life in rural America has to say about the future. If you are intrigued about this as well but would like more information, feel free to give me a call at 433-1206 or send an email to timothy.fine@montana.edu.

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