Southern Rural Development Center
FY2013 Plan of Work
The SRDC’s 15-member Technical and Operational Advisory Committee (TOAC) met in
October 2012 to review the priorities and the Research/Extension activities of the Center. TOAC membership, composed of six Research faculty and six Extension specialists from the
1862 and 1890 land-grant schools in the region, as well as three non-land-grant representatives, provides programmatic guidance to the SRDC, ensuring that the work of the Center is aligned
with the needs of people and communities in the rural South.
TOAC continues to believe priorities remain relevant to
SRDC’s Three priorities remain relevant to the
needs in the rural South
that SRDC’s three overarching the needs and issues in the rural
South. TOAC provided the SRDC staff with its
recommendations on how to fine tune its proposed FY13 activities during its fall face-to-face meeting. On behalf of the TOAC, the chair of this advisory group formally presented the proposed FY13 plan of work to the SRDC Board of Directors. The Board voted unanimously in support of the plan as developed by the TOAC in partnership with
the SRDC staff. The following outlines the efforts that will be pursued in FY13 by the SRDC.
PRIORITY 1: Fostering Civic-Minded Communities
he Center will continue to make important strides in advancing work designed to facilitate and strengthen the engagement of people in their communities. The following are the key
efforts the SRDC will carry out over the next fiscal year:
2011, seven new state teams were trained to launch the initiative. To date, five of those states have formally launched and completed the initial process. Additionally, four counties in Mississippi launched Tide through a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission. Throughout this time, a rich collection of associated data has been gathered in order to better understand how to foster civic engagement. During 2013, the SRDC plans the following activities to continue support of this work: (a) Facilitate the work of the multi-state research
team: Through a grant from the Kettering Foundation, the SRDC coordinated a multi-state data collection process to explore the Tide initiative. This process involved conducting pre and post- event key informant interviews, focus groups, and administering surveys to participants. A
multi-state research team has begun exploring this data to learn more about the implications for fostering civic engagement in the future. Additionally, an opportunity to examine the Tide data alongside the Horizons data (Tide’s sister program in the northwest portion of the nation) is developing. (b) Develop a series of impact reports for phase two sites: At the close of the phase one projects, the SRDC team visited each of the sites to learn about how Tide has impacted the communities it touched. From these, a series of phase one impact reports were developed and posted to the website. This process will be repeated for phase two sites during 2013.
PRIORITY 2: Build Economically Vibrant Communities
he Center will continue to carry out the variety of efforts that are intended to advance the economic health of rural places in the region. It will do so in partnership with its land-
grant university colleagues and other key external partners.
• Update Most Frequently Used Curriculum Products: Some popular e-commerce products are in need of updating and the Center will target resources to have some of these updated.
• Produce New Curricula e-Commerce Products: The Center will release 2 new educational products in FY13: Social Networking Basics and Search Engine Optimization.
The SRDC will continue, in partnership with USDA RD and the Purdue Center for Regional Development, to provide overall coordination for the SET initiative in states that have launched SET in the past three years. In addition, SRDC/USDA RD/Purdue personnel will work to expand SET to new states in 2013. As such, the Center will carry a diversity of activities in FY13 in support of this key initiative, including the following:
• Communications: Maintain conference calls and email communications with all states that are part of the SET program.
• Internal Evaluation of SET Resources: Continue to fine tune and administer pre- and post- assessment surveys to regional team members involved in SET.
• Revision of SET Materials: Secure feedback from state training team members and regional participants regarding need revisions/refinements to the SET modules. Revise modules as needed to enhance their effectiveness.
• New SET modules: Complete the addition of 2-3 new SET modules that supplement the core modules that are currently part of SET.
• Webinars: Conduct webinars on timely topics that can help strengthen the work of the regional teams and/or training teams.
• Communications with the External Evaluation Team (University of Cincinnati): Maintain on- going interactions with the evaluation team to help facilitate its timely communications activities with SET states and select regions.
• Expansion of SET to new states/regions (Phase IV): Pursue the expansion of SET into more states as part of Phase IV. This includes: (a) the preparation of a pre-application form for interested states; (b) the evaluation of the pre-applications and selection of states; (c) the development of a revised application form for use by Phase IV states to distribute to counties in their states; (d) the hosting of a webinar to inform Phase IV states of the key activities they need to complete over the next several months; (e) the review of completed applications from Phase IV states and the submission of recommendations to USDA RD as to which regions to approve for engagement in SET; (f) the organizing and hosting of a national train the trainer workshop for Phase IV state training team members; and (g) the launching of SET training activities in the Phase IV regions.
• Specialized data reports: Coordinate the development of socio-demographic and cluster analysis data needed to support the SET efforts through Phase III. Work with Purdue Center for Regional Development on the data needs for Phase IV.
• Presentations: Present highlights of SET at various national and regional meetings
PRIORITY 3: Expanding Opportunities for Distressed and Low-Wealth Communities
he lion’s share of our nation’s persistent high poverty counties is located in the rural South. The challenges local residents face are monumental and across the board -- economic,
educational, social, historical, cultural, and more. These are complex issues that cannot be overlooked. They are ones for which our land-grant system must accelerate its efforts to better understand and address through appropriate mechanisms and strategies. Thus, the SRDC will maintain a focus on the following over the next year:
of employees and job demand through a detailed analysis of commuting patterns, current workforce, and projected industrial structure of the region; and (b) work with the Mississippi State University Ag Economics Department to conduct a detailed economic impact analysis of the Delta region with a specific focus on the value of agricultural industries.
for Regional Development: The SRDC will launch this important collaboration which will allow for enhanced data analysis and monitoring. (b) Monitor and Analyze Key Indicators: The SRDC will continue to monitor macro and core indicators on the DGCI pilot sites. These analyses will be used to evaluate progress by the intermediaries in reaching their key community and
economic development goals. (c) Maintain/Expand the Mid-South Data Library: The Center will continue to strengthen and expand the type of secondary data needed to support the work of the Walton Family Foundation and that of other intermediary organizations with whom the Foundations is working on the DGCI. Further, the SRDC will work to create a data dashboard to enhance the usability of the data. (d) Explore Strategies for Promoting Regional Economic Development: The SRDC will explore new ways to build capacity in the Delta region with an
emphasis on regional strategies.
Capacity-Building and Other Support Activities
he SRDC will continue to undertake a variety of activities to keep its stakeholders
(especially our region’s 29 land-grant schools) aware of key rural development opportunities and activities. Collectively, these efforts are designed to help strengthen the capacity of our region’s land-grant schools to focus on high priority rural development research and Extension outreach efforts. Among these activities are to:
• Provide assistance to the National Agriculture and Rural Development Policy Center
(NARDeP) initiative along with the three other Regional Rural Development Centers
• Work with the Regional Rural Development Centers in sponsoring “Foundations of Practice in Community Development” training.
• Develop a new Community Development 101 foundational training (pilot in Florida)
• Provide leadership to the southern CRD State Program Leaders in establishing regional
• Maintain active communication with land-grant faculty and other clientele in the South.
This will be done by the following channels:
(a) Provide timely information on a variety of rural development-relevant matters via the
(b) Publish Around the South newsletter on a monthly basis, a newsletter that provides information on a host of rural development issues relevant to the South and nation;
(c) Publish Grant Connections six times a year, an electronic newsletter that offers information on grant funding available to support research and applied activities in the community/rural development area;
(d) Coordinate bi-monthly calls of Extension community development program leaders in the Southern region;
(e) Coordinate the annual meeting of the community development program leaders carried out as part of the Southern Region Program Leadership Network (PLN) conference, as well as work with the Association of Southern Region Extension Directors (ASRED) and Association of Extension Administrators (AEA) in managing all the logistics associated with the PLN meeting;
(f) Meet with the regional leadership of the 1862 and 1890 research and Extension leaders in the South to help inform and guide their rural development efforts in their states;
(g) Host quarterly calls of the SRDC Board of Directors and the Technical and Operational Advisory Committee, and organize an annual face-to-face meeting of these two groups in the region to ensure that the Center continues to meet the research and Extension outreach needs of its primary audiences;
(h) Participate, as needed, in community/rural development efforts of land-grant institutions in the region;
(i) Maintain strong working ties and interactions with the SRDC’s sister Regional Rural Development Center staff, with NIFA and with other federal partners who can further advance the work of the SRDC in the Southern region;