Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to johnc@cfra.org.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Center for Rural Affairs - 2005 Annual Gathering Review

--from the desk of Russ Gifford, Director Communications/Development
Center for Rural Affairs

Old friends mixed with many new faces on February 26 for the Center for Rural Affairs’ Annual Gathering. “It is always good to see a great crowd of people who are enthusiastic about the work of the Center,” said Don Reeves of Central City, Nebr. Reeves serves as President of the Center for Rural Affairs Board of Directors.

Perhaps as many as 300 people attended the event, this year held at the Lifelong Learning Center in Norfolk, Nebr. Attendees had many workshop options to choose between, with five tracks of teach-in sessions covering topics in agriculture, conservation, small business, legislation, and agri-tourism.

“People were very interested and excited to hear what was going on,” said Wyatt Fraas, assistant director of the Center’s Rural Opportunities and Stewardship Program. “I heard enthusiasm in the halls.”

Comments on the feedback forms certainly agree. It isn’t always easy to book programs when listeners already know the basics and are there looking for “what’s the next step?” But according to the evaluation forms, it appears we came pretty close!

Many people noted their favorite part of the program was the abundance of information from presenters and the large variety of teach-in topics available. The Center’s Business Fair, featuring displays and goods by regional small businesses, was also a winner.

The evaluation forms show the big hit of the day to be the speakers. The Center’s executive director, Chuck Hassebrook set the tone over lunch putting a sharp focus on “Why Rural Matters.” His evaluation of the current situation and why a healthy rural economy is important to everyone nationwide certainly struck listeners and got them excited about making a difference.

Best selling author Thomas Frank brought the crowd to their feet to end the day, with his straight-from-the-heart assessment of why things have gotten out of control between the political parties. After finishing his talk, Frank took questions and discussed issues with the audience for another half-hour, and then signed books and programs as the Center supporters headed for home.

“The work of the Center is really based on strengthening the things folks are already doing for themselves,” said Board President Reeves. “It is evident from the large turnout and the great response that the Center’s Annual Gathering was a success.”

The Center staff would like to thank everyone for attending and for your support through the year. Put a note on your calendar now to join us at next year’s gathering, tentatively scheduled for February 27, 2006.

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