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John Clemmons and Hoyt Nebgen stand in front of a dam water structure. John is in gray pants, brown boots and a gray polo shirt. Hoyt is wearing black shorts, white sneakers and a gray polo.
John Clemmons and Hoyt Nebgen studied drought impacts on Oklahoma rural communities and implications for water management during their 2023 Rural Scholar experience. (Photo provided by the OSU Rural Renewal Initiative)

Ten Rural Scholars embark on summer program to study rural issues

Friday, May 10, 2024

Media Contact: Gail Ellis | Editorial Communications Coordinator | 405-744-9152 |

The Rural Renewal Initiative at Oklahoma State University has announced the 2024 Rural Scholars for this summer’s research and service experience across the state.

The Rural Scholar internship program features 10 weeks of residency in rural Oklahoma communities where OSU undergraduate and graduate students study the top challenges of rural areas in Oklahoma and the world. Students are immersed in a rural community to conduct research, participate in service projects and support community initiatives.

Ten students completed OSU’s Developing Rural Scholars course this spring semester, studying research methods and rural community development. They will begin their internships to investigate the following rural topics and communities on May 20.

  • Olivia Coody, Building Sustainable Rural Health Care Services, Grandfield, Oklahoma
  • Sara Howard, Assessing How Weather Variability is Addressed in Educational Settings, Altus, Oklahoma
  • Erik Inman, Non-Emergency Medical Service Accessibility, Altus, Oklahoma
  • Zoe Kelley, The Measured and Perceived Impact of Marijuana Production and Commerce on Rural Economies, Public Utilities and Quality of Life, Okemah, Oklahoma
  • Mariela Kundak, Perceptions of Oklahoma Women in Agriculture, Frederick, Oklahoma
  • Molly Moody, Experiences and Perceptions Relating to Citizen Journalism and Local News Access, Mangum, Oklahoma
  • Mamata Pandey, Resident Perceptions on Water Use and Management in Rural Communities, Altus, Oklahoma
  • Joel Sahmaunt and Emily Sells, Working to Improve the Lives of Rural Oklahomans Through Increasing Protective Factors: Learning Strategies of Resilience from the American Indian Culture, Ada, Oklahoma
  • Samantha Starcher, Surface Water Quality Testing, Mangum, Oklahoma

“The Rural Scholars program is a unique opportunity for students to engage with rural people and places,” said Linnea Harvey, coordinator of the Rural Renewal Initiative. “A big part of this experience for students is integrating into communities and investing in relationships with community members over the summer. Our students and community partners learn different perspectives from one another and apply that to research aimed at solving relevant community issues. That’s what makes this experience special.”

Also in 2024, OSU has launched a new rural research internship for college students nationwide. Learn more about the first class to participate in the Research and Extension Experience for Undergraduates program.

Rural Scholar participants will present their research findings in October at the Rural Renewal Symposium at Lake Murray Lodge.

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