SRDC 50th Anniversary, Letter from the Director

50 years SRDC serving the south since 1974


Southern Rural Development Center Celebrating 50 Years of Work

With the onset of the Spring season, it seems an appropriate time to both celebrate the history of the Southern Rural Development Center (SRDC) and to envision an even brighter future.

The SRDC is one of the Nation’s four Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDCs) established under the Rural Development Act of 1972. Along with our colleagues at the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development, Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development, and the Western Rural Development Center, we acknowledged the 50th anniversary of the Act in 2022 through a variety of activities, including numerous proclamations.

The year 2024 marks a related but distinct anniversary – the first year of work as the SRDC, housed at Mississippi State University but operating across Land-Grant Institutions. As documented in its first Annual Progress Report, February 1, 1974, was the first official day of operation, and March 28 is noted as the approval of the first plan of work. From the very beginning, according to minutes from the Board of Directors, the SRDC’s approach has been interdisciplinary and focused on integration of research and Extension efforts. These ideas continue to resonate fifty years later. Rural people and communities have changed, as have the opportunities and challenges they confront, yet the importance of bringing together scientific knowledge, outreach, and education across organizational and state lines remains consistent.

This work has come to encompass regional collaboration with thirty universities across thirteen states and two territories, connecting 1862 and 1890 institutions, and now a 1994 tribal partner. It also involves work on national issues and collaboration between the RRDCs, regional research and Extension associations, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. With such a solid foundation, the next fifty years are off to a good start. I invite you to join in the reflection and celebration of the SRDC’s past fifty years. We will share highlights in upcoming issues of Around the South and via our website.