From April 30th to May 1st 2019, the SDSU Extension Community Vitality team hosted the second annual ENERGIZE! Exploring Innovating Rural Communities Conference. This year’s conference was held in Lemmon, South Dakota. SDSU Extension intended the conference to help individuals, businesses, organizations and communities improve themselves by:
- Encouraging the development of new social networks,
- Helping communities recognize and develop their assets,
- Increasing local decision making, and
- Encouraging diversity of involvement; recognizing that everybody matters.
The conference began with registration and the opportunity for attendees to explore resource provider booths. The opening keynote was followed by a series of sessions. Each conference session was held in a different local business location, rather than in a conference center or hotel. Conference participants were able to attend one of four simultaneous sessions. Each session focused on different topics within the conference’s four primary topic areas:
- Money: Funding community projects
- People: Attracting and retaining residents
- Business: Supporting community businesses
- Young Adults: Engaging the next generation.
Sessions on Wednesday concluded with social hosted by the Lemmon Placemakers which consisted of an activity session where attendees learned local arts, crafts, and cooking techniques, followed by dinner and musical entertainment. Sessions resumed the following day.
SDSU Extension hired the Black Hills Knowledge Network (BHKN) to conduct an evaluation of their program activities including this conference. BHKN worked with SDSU Extension staff to modify the conference feedback survey implemented at the 2018 Energize Conference and produce a findings report.