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NERCRD annual meeting provides opportunity to reconnect, reflect, and look ahead

Members of the NERCRD’s Board of Directors (BOD), Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), and staff gathered last month in Newport, RI, for their first in-person meeting since 2019 to reflect on the Center’s research and outreach accomplishments and to identify priority areas to guide its 2023 plan of work.

The meeting began with a TAC session chaired by Dr. Heather Stephens (WVU), during which members reflected on the findings from a year-long listening session initiative conducted by the Regional Rural Development Centers to identify priorities and capacities for rural recovery. Considering these findings, especially as they relate to the Northeast region, the TAC recommended that the Center’s work in 2023 continue to address the broad topic areas of:

  • Economic Development, Resilience, and Innovation;
  • Food Systems, Nutrition Security, and Agriculture; and,
  • Capacity Building and Facilitation.

The TAC also recommended that NERCRD prioritize the cross-cutting areas of:

  • diversity, equity, inclusion and access;
  • infrastructure;
  • climate change; and,
  • rural-urban interactions.

Person on dock showing others in boat a bed of oyster seed.

As TAC Chair, Stephens presented these recommendations during a joint TAC-BOD session. BOD members subsequently discussed and adopted the recommendations in a BOD-only session chaired by Dr. Richard C. Rhodes III (URI and NERA).

The annual BOD/TAC meeting is held in a different Northeast location each year, but this was the first in-person meeting since 2019, due to pandemic-related travel restrictions. This year’s meeting included a field experience organized by Rhodes, during which participants toured the Matunuck Oyster Farm in East Matunuck, Rhode Island. The tour was led by the farm’s owner-operator, Perry Raso, a URI graduate who started the farm in 2002 and has expanded his operation to include the Matunuck Oyster Bar, an organic vegetable farm, and most recently, a shellfish hatchery.

More information about the NERCRD BOD and TAC is available here.