Posted: December 7, 2021

NERCRD was selected recently to lead two projects under the New Technologies for Agricultural Extension (NTAE) program. The NTAE program is made possible by funding from USDA NIFA through a partnership with Oklahoma State University and the Extension Foundation. In addition to funding, selected projects receive engagement and technical support from the Extension Foundation.

Learn more about the NTAE program here.

One of the funded projects is being carried out collaboratively by the four Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDCs) to implement a year-long national listening sessions initiative on rural community, economic, and workforce development. Through the initiative, the RRDCs are engaging with key stakeholders to gather feedback which can inform regional and national priorities for sustainable, resilient recovery. The initiative launched with a national survey, which closed in October. RRDC staff conducted an initial analysis of the survey data, and have shared their preliminary report as stakeholder feedback with USDA NIFA. In the coming months additional reports and data tools will be made available to the public with findings from the survey. In 2022, the RRDCs will host a series of facilitated listening sessions with invited stakeholders aimed at diving deeper into survey findings and identifying long-range strategies on key priorities. The NERCRD, like each of the four RRDCs, will host one regionally focused listening session as well as one of national scope focused on a specific topic area. In addition, NERCRD has been awarded additional funding to coordinate efforts among the four RRDCs. This work is being led by NERCRD Associate Director Jason Entsminger.

The second funded project builds on a longstanding partnership between the NERCRD and the National Extension Tourism Network. The project seeks to build NET’s scale and expand its capacity through the NTAE accelerator initiative.  NET’s mission is to integrate research, education and outreach within Cooperative Extension and Sea Grant to support sustainable tourism, thus contributing to the long-term economic development, environmental stewardship, and socio-cultural wellbeing of communities and regions. It carries out this work by facilitating strategic collaboration among tourism, recreation, and hospitality Extension professionals and stakeholders. Opportunities to share programming including a website, webinars, publications, a biennial national conference, and joint activities around topics such as agritourism, community tourism planning and development, and the unique challenges and opportunities of coastal and rural tourism. Through the resources of the Extension Foundation and with the continued support of the NERCRD, the NTAE program is helping NET pursue organizational growth that makes it more financially sustainable and increases the reach of tourism and recreation Extension programming and research. NERCRD staff leading the initiative include Kristen Devlin (Communications Specialist), Jason Entsminger (Associate Director), and Stephan Goetz (Director). Dr. Lisa Chase of the University of Vermont Extension Service is the project’s Fellow. For updates on outcomes of this project, subscribe to the NET listserv: http://bit.ly/NET-list