Around the South Newsletters

Compiling SRDC and national news, recent publications, upcoming conferences and events, and job opportunities, this monthly newsletter furnishes a brief overview of announcements from the Southern region.

Heirs' Property Receives SERA 49 Designation

Building from the previous Heirs' Property working group, Southern Extension and Research Activity (SERA) 49 was officially approved in 2023. To see the full write up, please visit:
To learn more about Heirs' Property, visit:

Recently Released: Collaborations that Work Full Report

In 2023, the Southern Rural Development Center (SRDC) worked with 1890 and 1862 Cooperative Extension Service leaders across the Southern Region to gain insights from collaborations that work among the South's 1862 and 1890 Land-Grant Universities (LGU).

To see the results from the effort and read the full report, please visit:

Listening Session Voluntary Opportunity on Rural Population Change

The Rural Population Research Network (RPRN) is leading an effort to identify the issues diverse rural stakeholders see as top priorities for understanding population change. They are inviting Extension colleagues working with rural people and places to participate in one hour online listening sessions on challenges and opportunities related to population change in any of the four following areas:

Agriculture and Food Systems (February 8 @ 11am ET/10am CT/9am MT/8am PT)
This session will focus on how population changes in rural America affect agricultural regulations, loss of farmland, farmland preservation, housing, value-added production, labor shortages, etc. 
Community and Economic Development (February 15 @ 11am ET/10am CT/9am MT/, 8am PT)
This session will focus on how population changes in rural America affect local tax bases, development vs. gentrification, job opportunities, financing public services, recruiting employers, affordable housing, etc.
Environment and Natural Resources (February 22 @ 11am ET/10am CT/9am MT/ 8am PT)
This session will focus on how population changes in rural America affect delivery of water and/or sewer services, infrastructure costs and maintenance, environmental preservation, lack of capacity to maintain, protect, and/or provide clean and affordable water, etc.

Health, Health Care, and Disability Services (February 29 @ 11am ET/10am CT/9am MT/ 8am PT)
This session will focus on how population changes in rural America affect aging populations' health care services, opioid crisis management, access to and affordability of health care services, deficit of health workers, etc.
Please register for the session(s) most closely aligned with your areas of expertise and interest for sharing.
Your insights will be used to inform future research on these topics. Findings from the sessions will be used to produce a public report, presentations, and publications identifying topics of interest and priorities for future applied research. Findings will also help guide the work of the Rural Population Research Network and be shared with stakeholders including participants, state and federal agencies, and philanthropic organizations.
If this is something you would be interested in participating in, please register using the following link: REGISTRATION.
***These focus groups are part of a research study that has been reviewed by The Pennsylvania State University, University of Tennessee, Tennessee State University, Mississippi State University and University of Wisconsin-Madison’s HRPP/IRB. Participation is strictly voluntary. If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact Dr. Danielle Rhubart at


Regional Spotlight

University of Arkansas Extension Launches EDA Center for Rural Resilience and Workforce Development

Contributed by Dr. Hunter P. Goodman, Assistant Professor, Community, Workforce, and Economic Development and Brandon L. Mathews, Program Associate, Economic Development at UADA-Extension. Article drawn from UADA-Extension press release by Rebekah Hall November 14, 2023.

In October 2023, The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service (UADA-Extension) received a five-year, $650,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to create and support Extension’s Center for Rural Resilience and Rural Development. Extension’s EDA University Center extends our mission to strengthen Arkansans and their communities by connecting them with research-based resources throughout the state.

The Center is not a physical location. Rather, it is embedded within the Community, Professional, and Economic Development Unit and uplifts the strengths of the unit to support state’s “economic development ecosystem,” through the planning and development districts with a particular focus on rural marginalized, Hispanic, and Marshallese communities. The economic development ecosystem includes the organizations and groups that focus on improving local economies as well as county extension offices.

The particular focus of the work is through Arkansas’ eight Planning and Development Districts, or PDDs, which are funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration. PDDs are multi-jurisdictional entities, commonly composed of multiple counties and sometimes across state borders. PDDs develop local and regional strategies for comprehensive economic development, and they partner with public, private, and non-profit sectors to implement these strategies.

To read the full article, visit the Around the South January 2024 Issue, Regional Spotlight.

Staff Spotlight: Dr. Frank Seo, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture

Dr. Frank Seo joined the Community, Professional & Economic Development (CPED) team in September 2023 as our new Assistant Professor-Rural Development at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture (UADA). As an Extension Economist, he focuses on supporting economic, social, and quality of life advancement in rural Arkansas counties.

Dr. Seo received his Ph.D. in Agricultural & Applied Economics from Texas Tech University. He completed his B.A. and M.A. in Agricultural Economics from Dankook University, South Korea. Before coming to the U.S., he worked as a rural development policy consultant for central and local governments and an agribusiness consultant for agricultural organizations in the horticulture, grain, local farming, broiler, and livestock industries.

To read the full article, visit the Around the South January 2024 Issue, Staff Spotlight.