SERA-19 Rural Health


To provide health-oriented education and research to rural constituents.
To develop an interdisciplinary approach to rural health topics.

History of SERA-19

In the early 1990s, the southern regional branch of the United Stated Department of Agriculture - Cooperative States Research, Education, and Extension Service (USDA-CSREES) formed a task force to share ideas, address problems, and promote collaboration on rural health topics. The initial meeting of this rural health task force included scientists from many land-grant Southern universities and government agencies.

Over the next several years, the task force met twice yearly and developed a cooperative research and extension agenda that focused on rural health. The group published a guidebook entitled "Creating Partnerships in Health Care: A Local Initiative," published documents on state health initiatives, sponsored a symposium at the 1992 Southern Rural Sociology Meetings, and organized a conference on rural health partnerships in 1993 that was attended by over 100 participants.

In 1993, the task force proposed that it be converted to a "SERA," which is an acronym for Southern Extension Research Activity. The rural health SERA became the 19th such group formed under the southern regional branch of USDA-CSREES, and hence became known as SERA-19. The movement to a SERA allowed for more recognition by other groups and also provided the potential for long-term funding. After becoming a SERA, the group developed a resource directory, a position paper for health administrators, and a curriculum committee. The group also became formally known as an Information Exchange Group (IEG) within the SERA organization, which aligned with one of the original goals of the group - to share information about rural health-oriented programs.

Between 1994 and now, SERA-IEG 19 has led to the creation of a national extension health task force ("Healthy Communities - Healthy People"), held numerous conferences promoting rural health partnerships, obtained a $25,000 Kellogg foundation grant to promote state specific programs, held four health institutes in various southern states, and continued with its bi-annual meetings where members presented ongoing projects, discussed potential future partnerships, and learned about current studies in rural health. Today, SERA-19 has over 40 members with expertise ranging from environmental health and hospital administration to rural sociology and economics.

The following universities and government agencies have been active participants in SERA-19:

  • Virginia Tech
  • Oklahoma State University
  • University of Alabama
  • University of Arkansas
  • Auburn University
  • North Carolina State University
  • Alcorn State University
  • Tuskegee University
  • University of Kentucky
  • Texas A&M University
  • Louisiana State University
  • University of South Carolina
  • Clemson University
  • University of Florida
  • Mississippi State University
  • University of Missouri-Columbia
  • University of Georgia
  • Southern Rural Development Center