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OSU’s rural renewal scholars program is building the next generation of researchers focused on restoring America’s Communities.

OSU researchers part of $15M NIFA investment

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Media Contact: Harrison Hill | Senior Research Communications Specialist | 405-744-5827 | harrison.c.hill@okstate.edu

When it comes to renewing rural communities, there is a distinct shortage of interdisciplinary research and Extension training programs for undergraduate students. However, Oklahoma State University, through the Rural Renewal Initiative, is helping to fix that.

Recently, the Rural Renewal Initiative's team was awarded funding as part of a $15 million investment from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture focused on developing new members of the agricultural workforce.

“Rural communities face unique challenges,” said Dr. Audrey King, assistant professor of agricultural communications. “But they also have staggering strength and resiliency. This work will help folks cope with the challenges and capitalize on those strengths.” 

Rural community development and renewal require new and innovative approaches, which depart from traditional methods that have proved inadequate, she added. OSU’s Rural Renewal Initiative will use these new funds to develop an interdisciplinary Research and Extension Experience for Undergraduates.

“This will facilitate the expansion of the Rural Scholars program beyond OSU,” King said. “This means that we can have students from across the nation, but we plan to focus our recruitment efforts within the state of Oklahoma.”

The Research and Extension Experiences for Undergraduates program promotes research and Extension learning experiences for undergraduates so that they may enter the agricultural workforce with exceptional skills upon graduation.

“I am so excited to offer the Rural Scholar experience to students outside of OSU,” King said. “These students will have the opportunity to engage with rural communities in a meaningful way to make real change.”

This work is supported by the Research and Extension Experiences for Undergraduates, grant No. 2022-09059/project accession No. 1030178, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and should not be construed to represent any official USDA or U.S. Government determination or policy.

Story By: Abigail Cage | abcage@okstate.edu

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