How do we maximize our efforts to build human and social capital in ways that can strengthen resiliency and vitality? For one, we can partner with the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development (NCRCRD), one of four rural development centers that work collaboratively across the U.S.
On Tuesday, a couple dozen individuals interested in learning more had a chance to share and learn with Dr. Mark Skidmore, director of the NCRCRD. Mark began as director in January 2016 and has spent the past five months meeting with faculty and staff of the land grant universities in the twelve-state north central region which includes: Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas.
Participants of the morning seminar learned that the NCRCRD’s efforts help support community capacity development in four primary areas:
- Innovation diffusion for rural development
- Sustainable communities
- Leadership development
- Entrepreneurial activities
Within each of these thematic areas, the center supports: research, development of publications and policy briefs, small grants programs ranging from $5-$25K (proposals due in early February), and professional development webinars.
During the visit, Mark learned more about programmatic needs and priorities of community development faculty and staff working in various roles throughout Ohio. Mark also shared his vision for the center; something akin to what some would describe as a ‘really big tent’ involving the various affiliated land grant institutions, communities, organizations and disciplines engaging in highly-functional partnerships.
And, in case you are wondering, while the center ‘s mission is to “address issues of interest to rural communities,” center staff also realize the inter-dependencies that exist between our rural areas and more populated urban ones. Mark said, “The center directors understand that the vitality of our urban areas is of significant interest to our rural communities (and vice versa) and this understanding is factored into the work that we support.”
Greg Davis is a professor and assistant director with OSU Extension.