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Montana communities selected to participate in MSU Extension’s Reimagining Rural Program

Rural communities across Montana have been selected to participate in Reimagining Rural virtual gathering for inspiring stories about rural community vitality.
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Posted at 12:24 PM, Jan 10, 2024

BOZEMAN – Nearly a dozen rural Montana communities have been selected to participate in the fourth annual Reimagining Rural virtual gathering set for three evenings this winter. Reimagining Rural is a free program offered through Montana State University Extension that invites small town residents to hear new ideas for rural community vitality.

The Reimagining Rural virtual gathering includes three statewide sessions on Jan. 29, Feb. 12 and Feb. 26. Those sessions are broadcast via Zoom to groups gathered in person in participating towns. Following each session’s speakers, local groups hold facilitated conversations about how new ideas might work in their communities.

Participating communities this year include Big Timber, Boulder, Choteau, Custer County, Ekalaka, Ennis, Forsyth, Glacier County, Lima/Dell, West Yellowstone and Winnett. In total, 53 communities have participated in Reimagining Rural since its inception in 2020.

“The event brings people together in small towns across the state to hear new ideas for rural community vitality to inspire community members to imagine a brighter future for their town,” said Tara Mastel, MSU Extension community vitality specialist.

Each evening of the program features a speaker and a story of success from a small town. Mastel will introduce the first session, providing data that gives context to some of the changes happening in small towns, including Montana’s own research on rural brain gain. The second session features small-town experts Becky McCray and Deb Brown, principals of Save Your Town, who will offer practical steps to help residents shape brighter futures for their small towns or rural communities and share what they call their idea-friendly method for getting things done in small towns. The final session will feature professional speaker and “Growing Small Towns” podcast host Rebecca Undem.

Each session will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Community members interested in participating may contact their local MSU Extension office for information on the local host. For program information, visit msuextension.org/communitydevelopment/reimagine-rural.html or contact Mastel at tara.mastel@montana.edu.

Reimagining Rural is made possible through support from MSU Extension, the Montana Community Foundation, AgWest Farm Credit, Montana Department of Commerce and local hosts in each community.

Contact: Tara Mastel, MSU Extension community vitality associate specialist, tara.mastel@montana.edu or 406-490-4180.