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Community Leaders to Gather for Statewide “Rural Reflections Summit”

SPOKANE, Wash. — Representatives of 40 small, rural communities from throughout Washington State will gather this month in Moses Lake to celebrate their successes and share strategies for reducing poverty within their communities.

The Rural Reflections Summit: Building a Stronger Washington, celebrating the communities’ successes in assessing and addressing the causes of poverty, will be held on Friday and Saturday, Mar. 19 and 20, at Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake. Conference events will be held in the college’s Advanced Technologies Education Center, 7611 Bolling Street, building 1800.

The 40 communities all have participated in the Horizons Program since 2004, an eighteen-month training program for building community leadership and involvement in rural and reservation communities to reduce poverty. The program is funded by the nonprofit Northwest Area Foundation of St. Paul, Minn. and delivered in this state by Washington State University Extension.

To be eligible for Horizons participation, communities must have a population of fewer than 5,000, with changing demographics and a high poverty rate. To be selected, each community had to demonstrate sufficient community interest by both youth and adults in volunteering for and participating in the process.

The summit will begin with “early bird” workshops on Friday afternoon beginning at 4 pm, followed by a dinner celebration and opening ceremonies at 6:15 pm. Mario Villanueva, U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Director, will deliver the keynote address at the dinner on the topic, “Transforming our Rural Communities: A New Revitalization.”

On Saturday morning at 8:30 am participants will hear an address by Nancy Amidei with the University of Washington Civic Engagement Project on the topic “Fitting Advocacy into Busy Lives.”

The remainder of the day will be filled with workshops around the themes of community asset development, building community leadership and capacity, and public policy education.

The summit is being presented by WSU Extension Horizons in partnership with the Washington State Department of Commerce.

More information about the Horizons Program, including listings of all participating communities, and the full conference agenda are available at http://horizons.wsu.edu.

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Media Contacts

Doreen Hauser-Lindstrom, WSU Extension Horizons Program Director, 509-358-7686