Mark Rieger, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), Michelle Rodgers, associate dean and director of University of Delaware cooperative extension, and Melanie Allen, a senior studying wildlife conservation in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology, recently participated in a half-day summit on issues of importance to rural communities across the nation. The event featured U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), and was hosted by the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee and featured two moderated panels focused on rural economics, infrastructure, and access to critical services.
The panel highlighted the economic conditions facing rural communities and the agriculture industry, and what role the federal government can play in ensuring long-term support for the communities. Issues discussed during the summit included the importance of investing in the health of farmland, natural resources, and infrastructure. Another topic of discussion was connecting farmers and ranchers with consumers, including individuals, schools, hospitals and businesses.
“Our rural communities are central to our identity, our economy, and our values,” said Coons. “Between our agriculture sector, environmental conservation, and tourism, it’s no surprise that Delaware’s rural communities are thriving. It’s important that we continue to facilitate an open dialogue between our rural communities and our elected officials to ensure we aren’t hindering their growth and development. I thank the members of the University of Delaware for attending today’s event and sharing their views on how we can strengthen our state’s rural areas.”
More than 200 rural development advocates attended the summit.