Rural development grant 2.18

Written by David Green.

Michigan State University (MSU) is slated to be the focus of rural development research and education for the Midwest beginning July 1. The university recently won a competitive grant of nearly $2 million that will make it the host of the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development (NCRCRD) for the next five years.

The NCRCRD is one of four regional centers charged with strengthening the ability of the land-grant university system and its partners to help build rural community capacity, create vibrant and sustainable economies, and cultivate inclusive governance to enhance regional well-being.

MSU Extension, the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station and the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) will jointly administer the center, thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.

“Because 59 of Michigan’s 83 counties are considered rural, it is only natural that we are dedicated to helping rural communities thrive,” says Frank Fear, senior associate dean of the MSU CANR. “This opportunity allows our faculty and staff members to work with neighboring states to foster research and outreach efforts throughout the North Central Region.”

The USDA North Central Region consists of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Extension organizations, including MSU Extension, serve as the outreach arm that transfers research from universities to communities where information can be successfully implemented to trigger economic development.

“Applying education to economic development is our driving force,” says Tom Coon, director of MSU Extension. “We look forward to fostering multistate collaborations that can address needs of rural communities in Michigan and across the Midwest.”

Scott Loveridge, MSU Extension state leader for community and economic development, will serve as the center’s transitional director. He will chair a nationwide search to find a permanent director for the NCRCRD.

“The center was crucial in helping me launch my research program at the beginning of my career,” Loveridge says. “I plan to help the center continue to play that role as we establish it here at MSU and seek a full-time director.”

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
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    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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