RRDC, NCRCRD celebrate 50 years of rural development

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — August will mark the 50th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s signing of the Rural Development Act of 1972, creating the Rural Regional Development Centers located across the United States.

The North Central Regional Center for Rural Development (NCRCRD), currently hosted by Purdue University, spans across this region to build resilient communities and economies, develop leadership and civic engagement, and promote health and well-being through the network of land-granting universities.

“Having the NCRCRD managed and housed at Purdue under the capable leadership of Maria Marshall and Deputy Principal Michael Wilcox is an honor for our college and university and further fulfills our commitment to our land-grant mission,” said Karen Plaut, the Glenn W Example of Dean of Purdue’s College of Agriculture.

Marshall, director of the NCRCRD and holder of the Jim and Lois Ackerman Professorship in Agricultural Economics, said that when Purdue began managing the NCRCRD in September 2020, COVID-19 hurdles initially made regular operations difficult.

“Usually the principals travel and visit all 34 universities, and now it’s been pretty haphazard,” Marshall said. “So we’ve been working on other ways to facilitate those meetings, which Zoom and Microsoft Teams have facilitated. But there’s nothing like being physically present at a university.

The only university Marshall has been able to visit between pandemic hurdles is The Ohio State University, where, Marshall said, she was able to meet with faculty and research and extension staff to help identify areas of collaboration.

The NCRCRD has found ways to pursue its mission despite obstacles, Marshall said, by hosting a series of webinars to help connect rural development researchers and extension professionals with each other and with stakeholder groups.

Something the NCRCRD has worked to build on over the past year is to engage the historically black 1890s universities and the 1994 tribal colleges and universities more in promoting rural development.

Marshall said there are plans to celebrate the RRDC’s golden anniversary through monthly content distributed via the center’s newsletters, lectures and a series of listening sessions focusing on rural prosperity and economic development.

“We’ve been here for 50 years and we’ve done a great job so far,” she said. “But we look forward to continuing to help rural communities continue to thrive for another 50 years.”

Writer: Jillian Ellison, 765-494-0948, [email protected]

Source: Maria Marshall, 765-494-4268, [email protected]

Agricultural communications: 765-494-8415;

Maureen Manier, Head of Department, [email protected]

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