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Extension to Take Part in Upcoming Rural Assembly

green rural scene

Rural leadership is the topic of next month’s Rural Assembly in Raleigh, and NC State Extension will be there, highlighting some of its top programs aimed at promoting prosperity in the state’s rural communities.

Claiming Our Future is the theme for this year’s assembly, put on by the North Carolina Rural Center Nov. 16-17 in Raleigh. The objective: to explore ways that local leaders can help rural communities chart their own course for the future.

Extension is among dozens of agencies and organizations taking part in the assembly’s Rural Resource Fair. Extension’s booth will focus on innovative educational programs related to local foods, agritourism, economic development and farmworker health and safety.

NC State Extension Director Rich Bonanno says that the assembly provides an excellent venue to educate leaders about agriculture’s importance in North Carolina and to remind them of Extension’s longstanding tradition of commitment to rural communities.

“Extension is an educational bridge between the state’s people and its land-grant universities, NC State and North Carolina A&T State,” Bonanno said. “We help not just farmers but entire communities – both rural and urban – address challenges and position themselves for long-term success.”

During the Rural Assembly, Susan Jakes, Extension’s associate state program leader for community development, will be part of a panel discussion on ways to engage new and returning young adults and families to rural areas.

In addition, the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) – a partnership of NC State, N.C. A&T State and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services – will be part of the resource fair, sharing information about two local food programs: North Carolina Growing Together is designed to bring more locally grown foods into mainstream retail and food-service supply chains, and Community Food Strategies empowers local food councils to positively impact communities’ local food and farm economy.

The Rural Center has been a “fabulous partner” in CEFS’ efforts to build local food economies, said Laura Lauffer, local food and farm coordinator of the N.C. Growing Together program.

The Rural Assembly represents another opportunity for CEFS to “reach rural decision makers with our message that agriculture is a key part of economic development,” she added. “We will be sharing our The Local Government Guide on Building Local Food Economies and promoting other resources the program has created to support enabling environments for building local food economies across the state.”

The Rural Assembly will take place at the Marriott Crabtree Valley.

For more information or to register for the 2017 N.C. Rural Assembly, visit the assembly’s website at