Indiana University Rural Conference

Wednesday, May 12, 2021, 9:00 AM – Thursday, May 13, 2021, 2:30 PM

Virtually held on Zoom

Attend the IU Center for Rural Engagement's virtual two-day conference focused on the issues of greatest importance to Indiana’s rural communities.

Connect with leaders from across Indiana, Indiana University researchers, and colleagues from a variety of fields as you learn and share your perspective on the opportunities and needs facing rural Indiana. The conference is designed for community leaders, residents, and professionals who seek to create a stronger Indiana.

Registration has closed for this event.

Registration includes all sessions and materials. The full conference rate is $15 per person. The rate to attend only one day is $10 per person. Scholarships are available; contact for more information.

Day 2: Thursday, May 13

This morning session will bring all participants together to learn more about recent initiatives and hear from our guest keynote speaker.

Opening remarks

Kerry Thomson, IU Center for Rural Engagement Executive Director

Keynote address

Alison Davis, University of Kentucky Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky Executive Director

Breakout 1: Bridging the Rural Education Gap with High Quality, Low-Tech Arts-based Outreach

Learn about innovative approaches to arts-education outreach and creative solutions to bridge the rural broadband gap for K-12 students. We will examine the Eskenazi Museum of Art’s re-envisioned outreach model, the Look Club, and exploratory low-tech distance learning tool, the Look Book. Gain insight into the process used for developing this flexible, scalable and sustainable approach to outreach.

Presenter: Kelly Jordan, M.F.A., Eskenazi Museum of Art

Breakout 2: The Value of Caves to the Natural Environment of Indiana

The Indiana Uplands host thousands of caves, sinkholes, and springs; all part of an iconic karst landscape that hosts important groundwater resources, ecosystems for rare and endangered species, and unique mineral formations. These caves are important to the movement of sediments and nutrients, and are an archive for our changing climate. We will discuss the three pillars of cave studies: exploration, research, and conservation. We will track our individual pathways into caving and how that has influenced our personal and professional life. Join us and celebrate the International Year of Caves and Karst with this virtual journey into what lies beneath the region's surface.

Presenters: Lee Florea, Ph.D., and Sarah Burgess, Indiana Geological and Water Survey; Laura Demarest, Watershed Coordinator at Sullivan Co. Soil and Water Conservation District; Danyele Green, Bloomington Indiana Grotto

Breakout 3: Indiana's Heritage Trails: Mapping Our (Untold) History

Discuss the ways we as a region and state can tell a comprehensive story of our history through the development of a heritage trail that is inclusive to all backgrounds, with a focus on typically underrepresented heritage. Join us as we consider opportunities to connect Indiana heritage-related sites with each other in ways that support the vibrance and sustainability of our communities.

Presenter: Gabriel Piser, Ph.D., IU Center for Rural Engagement; Matt Crouch, Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs; Misty Weisensteiner, Indiana Destination Development Corporation

Breakout 4: Teen Food Insecurity in Southern Indiana

Learn about the results of a recent study of local teen food insecurity, highlighting the prevalence, experiences, coping mechanisms, and teens' ideas for solutions in their communities. Ensuring teens have access to safe and nutritious foods benefits the entire community and region. Be a part of addressing this issue as we look ahead to solution design and implementation.

Presenters: Mecca Burris, M.A., and MacKenzie DiMarco, Department of Anthropology

Breakout 1: Creative Arts for Vets

Explore the development of a new initiative, Creative Arts for Vets (CAV), a partnership between the Eskenazi Museum of Art and the Center for Rural Engagement. Learn more about the background behind the project, takeaways from our first pilot program, and next steps for expansion of the project into other rural Indiana communities.

Presenters: Lauren Daugherty, M.A.; Eskenazi Museum of Art, Todd Burkhardt, Ph.D., IU Center for Rural Engagement; Melissa Bellanceau, M.S.W.

Breakout 2: Hitting the Streets: Getting Started with the Uplands Maker Mobile

The Uplands Maker Mobile brings maker ideas, pedagogical knowledge, materials and tools out to schools and organizations in the Uplands Region, including primarily rural communities. Learn how we are connecting with youth and educators in a number of different ways to try to infuse this type of learning throughout educational experiences. Join us to discuss ways you think this vehicle can be used to further its mission.

Presenters: Adam Maltese, Ph.D., Ed.D., School of Education; Michi McClaine, MSEd., Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc.; Andew Woodward, Uplands Maker Mobile

Breakout 3: Community Conversations: Strengthening Arts and Culture to Enhance Quality of Place

Community Conversations is an interactive discussion about resources and topics that impact rural Indiana communities. Join us for this session where we will discuss challenges and innovative local approaches to enhancing quality of place through local arts and culture initiatives. This session will introduce the new Community Arts and Culture Guide, an interactive, step-by-step tool for residents interested in creating a strategy that integrates the arts and local assets for an inclusive and thriving community. This session will have additional time for discussion and will conclude by 1 p.m.

Presenter: Adrian Starnes, M.A., Jazmyn Gideon, M.A., Eric Ashby

Breakout 4: Regionalism and the Recovery Act

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) provides a unique opportunity for governments, regional organizations, and nonprofits to infuse new resources into their priority initiatives. But the plan includes many programs across many different federal agencies, so determining how best to engage with ARP programs can be intimidating. This interactive session will break down approaches for pursuing and investing ARP funds and discuss how new state and federal programs could advance regional initiatives.

Presenters: Joe Carley, IU Center for Rural Engagement; Andrea Kern, Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs; Tina Peterson, Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc.; Robert Yaro, University of Pennsylvania

Join us for a roundtable discussion—small, informal conversations about topics of interest. 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Join people from across rural Indiana who are thinking about how issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion relate to Indiana’s rural communities. We will discuss current work and both our successes and challenges. This will be a space to explore difficult or uncomfortable questions, and to strategize with others about how we can cultivate justice and healing through our collective work.

Presenters: Gabriel Piser, Jacob Simpson

Get started with START: Student Agile Response Team

Do you have community projects that could use a boost? Join IU Corps' Cassi Winslow-Edmonson and Suzanne Allen for a conversation about the IU Student Agile Response Team and the ways the team can help you and your organization get things done. Drawing from expertise from the entire IU Bloomington campus, START pairs passionate students with projects and initiatives across Indiana.

Presenters: Suzanne Allen, Cassi Winslow-Edmonson

iSTEAM: Integrating Art into STEM

Join this discussion with Adam Scribner, who is an expert on the design of K-12 STEM curricular resources as well as teacher education and professional development around the integration of multiple STEM disciplines. Learn more about the iSTEAM initiative launched in schools across the Indiana Uplands region, ask questions about STEAM education, and share ideas for new possibilities.

Presenter: Adam Scribner

Reviving a Harm Reduction Program: Leveraging Community Support for Successful Implementation

Connect with Alison Greene and Charmin Gabbard for a discussion on Syringe Services Programs (SSPs). Explore why they are a key component in combatting the opioid epidemic and how rural Indiana communities have garnered support for SSPs through a collaborative approach.

Presenters: Alison Greene, Charmin Gabbard

Rural Seniors and Food Security

The Center for Rural Engagement has partnered with the IU Food Institute to better understand the scope and character of food insecurity among rural older adults in four of the catchment area counties (Lawrence, Orange, Greene and Crawford). Using a variety of research methods, the Food Institute team has connected with hundreds of seniors in the area to employ community-based research that can lead to the co-design of small changes to enhance food security and quality of community life. This interactive roundtable will engage participants in this exploration.

Presenter: Phil Stafford 

Solving Broadband Accessibility in Rural Indiana

Solving the rural broadband accessibility problem in Indiana is an effort with untold benefits--from improving the tax base, to supporting education, telehealth, agriculture, business and economic growth. Yet, it is also a complex issue with economic, technological, and tactical challenges. Ron Holcomb, who leads Wintek—fiber internet service from Tipmont REMC—will illustrates the problem and facilitate a discussion on what's needed to solve it in rural Indiana.

Presenters: Ron Holcomb, Diane Willis

Trauma-Informed Care

The IU School of Public Health-Bloomington, School of Social Work, and Center for Rural Engagement recently launched a Trauma-Informed Care Professional Development Certificate, which is designed for anyone interested in learning how the prevalence and pervasive impact of trauma across the human experience. Join John Keesler, Alex Purcell, and Jennifer Thomas-Giyer for a conversation about trauma-informed care and the ways you and your organization can implement these principles into your work and your community.

Presenters: John Keesler, Alex Purcell, Jen Thomas-Giyer

The conference schedule and sessions are subject to change.

Technology requirements and support

We will use Zoom to conduct virtual sessions for the IU Rural Conference. If you need help installing or getting started with Zoom, please visit their help center.

Visit the Zoom Help Center