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News - Center for Rural Studies

May, 2014

Center for Rural Studies at SHSU and Texas Cultural Trust to Examine Rural Arts through NEA Grant

Sam Houston State University’s Center for Rural Studies and the Texas Cultural Trust recently were awarded a $15,000 National Endowment for the Arts Research Grant to explore ways to stimulate rural community and economic development through the arts. The study will look at rural community impacts of the arts and cultural sectors, specifically community attachment, quality of life, and satisfaction with arts and cultural activities. Texas Cultural Trust Announcement

May, 2014

Entergy Texas Sponsors New 10-County Central East Texas Alliance

Entergy Texas, Inc., has joined forces with the Center for Rural Studies at Sam Houston State University and leaders from 10 Central East Texas counties to form the Central East Texas Alliance, a community and economic development organization that will focus primarily on rural areas in 10 counties.

August 5, 2013

Economic Vitality in Rural Texas - A Discussion of Regional Economic Development

July 7, 2013

Rural 'Economic Vitality' meeting slated at Center for Rural Studies

July 2, 2013

SHSU Center for Rural Studies Hosts Meeting to Discuss Rural Development

April 23, 2013

Inaugural Survey Reveals Needs, Attitudes Of Texas's Rural Citizenry

March 19, 2013

Center Combats Rural 'Brain Drain' With Outreach Programs

February 4, 2013

Theodori, Constance, & Hudec Receive 2013 SRSA Awards

Three SHSU faculty/staff were honored for their performance in teaching, research, and public service at the annual meeting of the Southern Rural Sociological Association (SRSA). The meeting was held concurrently with the Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists (SAAS) in Orlando, Florida, February 2-5. The 2013 theme of the meeting was: “Social Stabilization in the Twenty-first Century: The Role of Rural Communities.” Dr. Gene L. Theodori, Professor and Chair of Sociology was awarded “Excellence in Instruction,” Dr. Douglas H. Constance, Professor of Sociology received “Excellence in Research,” and Cheryl L. Hudec, Associate Director for the Center for Rural Studies, was awarded “Excellence in Public Service.” Constance and Theodori have now received all awards offered by the SRSA: Excellence in Instruction, Excellence in Research, and Excellence in Extension.

January 29, 2013

New Study Looks at Quality-of-Life in Rural Texas

January 16, 2013

The Center for Rural Studies Releases the Results of the Texas Rural Survey

Lee County Community-Youth Development Program

Wraps up for 2012

On August 2, 2012 the Center for Rural Studies hosted a Banquet honoring all of the sponsors, partners, youth, parents, and employers who participated in the innaugural Lee County Community-Youth Development Program (CYDP). There were approximately 50 in attendance. Each sponsor, partner, and employer had the opportunity to share their experience with the program. A video featuring the youths' experiences and thoughts about their community was also shared with the audience. Overall, the program was a great success. Lee County will be hosting the CYDP again and the Center for Rural Studies and Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area will be expanding to other rural places in 2013.

Non-Profit in Crockett Offers Internship Through Center

The Mary Allen Museum of African American Art and History Board of Directors, of Crockett, Texas, is currently working with the Center on a Community-based Planning Process toward the restoration of Mary Allen College building and transformation of the building into an African American art and history museum.

The Mary Allen Museum Board will be offering an unpaid internship to one SHSU student for the summer (4 weeks). This student would primarily gain experience working for a non-profit organization and would earn college credit for the internship. This is an excellent orpportunity for both the student and the organization.

Center Speaks at Local Rotary Club Meeting

Dr. Gene Theodori and Mrs. Cheryl Hudec of the Center for Rural Studies presented to local community leaders at the Huntsville Rotary Club Meeting on March 7, 2012. Theodori spoke about community and community development and the services that the Center provides in respect to each. Hudec gave some examples of the current work being done by the staff at the Center for Rural Studies.

Pictured here are Walter Bennett, Rotary Club President, Dr. Gene Theodori, and Mrs. Cheryl Hudec.


Center Students Present on Hydraulic Fracturing at Regional Meeting

Graduate students: Michelle McGuckin and Robinson Schariah presented the paper: "A Big Fracing Mess: An Examination of Public Perception of Hydaulic Fracturing" at the 2012 Southern Rural Sociological Association Annual Meeting held in Birmingham, Alabama. The meeting brings together rural sociologists from across the southern region as a part of the larger Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists Conference. McGuckin and Schariah are graduate students in the Department of Sociology at Sam Houston State University and are also involved in various project with the Center for Rural Studies including the fracing perception study presented at the regional meeting. Also on the paper were Dr. Gene Theodori and Mrs. Cheryl Hudec of Sam Houston State University. The paper abstract is provided below.

Hydraulic fracturing is a long-standing, yet increasingly controversial, practice in the energy industry. Technological advances in hydraulic fracturing methods and horizontal drilling techniques, coupled with a favorable price environment, are the primary factors that have spawned the unprecedented gas shale boom across the globe.  This exploration and production gas shale boom is occurring in both rural and urban areas. In this paper we investigate the public’s perception, as influenced by the mass media, of hydraulic fracturing. Specifically, we examine the public’s perception of the environmental, health, and economic impacts associated with hydraulic fracturing. A general web search was conducted for newspaper and internet articles. The articles were then sorted according to one of the following topical areas: environmental, health, and economic related impacts. We conclude by discussing the possible implications of our findings.

Center Releases Quarterly Newsletter: Rural Conversations

The Center for Rural Studies at Sam Houston State University would like to introduce to you the inaugural issue of Rural Conversations, a quarterly newsletter that aims to provide discussions of all things rural. We hope that you enjoy the newsletter and benefit from the information contained within.Click on the newsletter image below for the full newsletter.


Center Welcomes New Research Associate

August 2011

Dr. Colter Ellis is joining the Center for Rural Studies team in August 2011 as a Research Associate. Ellis earned his Doctorate from the University of Colorado. There, his research used interview-based research to understand how those in animal agriculture struggle to balance the demands of animal welfare and environmental sustainability within the restraints of difficult agricultural markets: “My interest in agriculture and animal related issues is something I hope to incorporate into my work with the center.”Dr. Ellis also has interests in human-wildlife conflicts, habitat conservation efforts, and human dimensions of invasive species control.

My interest in agriculture and animal related issues is something I hope to incorporate into my work with the center.

Dr. Ellis’ experience in qualitative research will guide his primary focuses within the Center:  “My primary research expertise is in interview-based data collection that focuses on people’s everyday experiences. This approach makes the voices and opinions of community members and stakeholders its driving force and allows those who understand issues best to guide the research. The outcomes of this in-depth method are policy recommendations based on the everyday experiences of actual community members.”

The outcomes of this in-depth method are policy recommendations based on the everyday experiences of actual community members.

When asked about his vision for the Center, Dr. Ellis replied: “I am especially enthusiastic about providing rural communities with independent and rigorous research that can help them achieve their cultural, economic, and environmental goals. It is my hope that through partnership with community leaders the center can foster evidence-based programs and practices that will have lasting and positive outcomes for rural areas.”

It is my hope that through partnership with community leaders the center can foster evidence-based programs and practices that will have lasting and positive outcomes for rural areas.


New Online Mapping Tool Provides Data for Rural Areas in the United States

Feb. 18, 2011- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the debut of an online mapping tool that captures a broad range of demographic, economic, and agricultural data on rural areas across the United States. The Atlas of Rural and Small-town America, developed by USDA’s Economic Research Service, provides county-level mapping of over 60 statistical indicators depicting conditions and trends across different types of nonmetro regions.

The Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America is available online.

Public Perception of the Oil and Gas Industry Research Featured at Local Energy Expo

Dr. Gene L. Theodori, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Rural Studies, presented his research on the Public Perception of the Oil and Gas Industry on Wednesday, May 18, 2011 in Center, Texas at the East Texas Energy Expo hosted by the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce and City of Center Economic Development Corporation. Theodori is a program manager of the Environmentally Friendly Drilling (EFD) program. The EFD program is managed by the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC), integrates advanced technologies into systems that significantly reduce the footprint of petroleum drilling and production in environmentally sensitive areas. The objective is to identify, develop and transfer critical, cost effective, new technologies that can provide policy makers and industry with the ability to develop reserves in a safe and environmentally friendly manner. For more information on the EFD program, please visit: www.efdsystems.org. KTRE featured the story which can be viewed below.



Local Community Developer Attends State Community Development Institute

Houston, Texas (March 5, 2011) – Economic and community development representatives from across the nation participated in the Texas Community Development Institute (CDI) held February 28 – March 4, 2011. Among those completing Year One of the three-year program was Cheryl Hudec, Associate Director, Center for Rural Studies.

The five-day session was held at the Lone Star College System Offices and included just over 50 classes offered by 25 practitioners on such topics as Developing a Workforce, Principles and Processes of Community Development, Identifying Stakeholders, and Community Assessments.

The purpose of CDI is to train community officials, volunteers and employees who work with city/state/county governments, chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, utility companies and community social services in the techniques of modern leadership and management of community development efforts. Since the program's inception more than 1,000 community leaders from throughout the country have participated in the program.

Lone Star College System, one of the premier educational institutions in Texas, the Texas Economic Development Council, and the Community Development Council are supporting organizations of the Texas Community Development Institute.

Instructors from across the United States, each well-known in their business and community development fields, facilitate the comprehensive program curriculum designed to meet the increasing challenges facing community developers in today's fast paced society and is applicable for community leaders from towns and cities of all sizes.
With more than 69,000 students in credit classes for spring 2011, and a total enrollment of more than 85,000, Lone Star College System is the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area, and the fastest-growing community college system in Texas. Dr. Richard Carpenter is the chancellor of LSCS, which consists of five colleges including LSC-CyFair, LSC-Kingwood, LSC-Montgomery, LSC-North Harris, and LSC-Tomball, six centers, LSC-University Park, LSC-University Center at Montgomery, LSC-University Center at University Park, Lone Star Corporate College, and LSC-Online. To learn more visit LoneStar.edu.

For more information:
Kay Fitzsimons
Director, Community Leadership Institute
Lone Star College System
5000 Research Forest Drive
The Woodlands, Texas  77381-4356
281-330-5494 cell
832-813-6624 fax

Economic Development Forum

The Center for Rural Studies and Texas Rural Innovators together hosted an Economic Development Forum and Luncheon on Thursday March 17, 2011. The forum was an effort to bring a mix of outstanding practitioners together to share tips and practical information about success in small city and rural economic development and it was a hit among participants. Success stories from around the East Texas region, information on different economic development designs, and advice, resources and tools to use for economic development were shared at the event.

The featured speakers were Jim Clinton, director of the CENLA Advantage Partnership, a non-profit promoting regional development in Central Louisiana; and Carolyn Motl, former economic developer with Entergy Texas and a key figure in the development of the Community Development Institute. Linda Parker, CEcD of the Texas Department of Agriculture East Texas-Economic Development shared six tips gained through her years of experience in the area. Additionally, Roger Feagley, Executive Director of Sulphur Springs EDC, Jim Wehmeier, Executive Director of Lufkin EDC, and Steve Maddox, Executive Director of Navasota EDC shared their successes, failures, and advice with participants. Planning for another Economic Development forum is underway.

Carolyn Motl's Presentation

Roger Feagley and Jim Wehmeier's Presentation

Grant Writing Workshop A Success!

On Saturday, February 26, 2011, The Center for Rural Studies and the City of Huntsville hosted a Grant Writing Workshop for local non-profits. The workshop was held at the University from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm; refreshments and a small breakfast were provided. Victoria Constance and Joann Ducharme of VisionBridge Consulting, LLC facilitated the class. Thirty-five individuals attended and were actively engaged in the workshop. Topics discussed included: the grant search, data collection, problem statements, narratives, outcomes, budgets and budget narratives. Additionally, participants were able to review and discuss both un-successful and successful grant applications and budgets. With exceptional feedback from the attendants, follow-up workshops are expected soon. Please check back on the Center's website for updates.

Above: Victoria Constance talks with some of the participants at the Workshop.
Right: Class attendants listen to a discussion about the building blocks of the grant writing process.





Director Receives Research Award at Rural Conference

Dr. Gene Theodori received the Excellence in Research Award for 2011 from the Southern Rural Sociology Association. Recipients are selected on the basis of their outstanding work respectively in areas of teaching, research, extension, and public service in the Southern United States.  A fundamental interest of the SRSA is social justice, as seen through various disciplinary lenses and approaches, with focus  upon the South.  SRSA believes this focus to be particularly appropriate and poignant, given the social-economic context of the region, and the various legacies left in a history of oppression, (e.g. race, class, gender).  The 2011 Awards Committee found Dr. Theodori's dedicated research at Sam Houston State University to exemplify these commitments, and therefore acknowledged his work and dedication with the 2011 Award.   

Center for Rural Studies Travels to Vernon, Texas

In September, Dr. Gene Theodori presented his Guide to Community-Based Planning to members of the 2011 Leadership Vernon, a locally developed annual initiative. During the orientation retreat Theodori informed and engaged the class around community development practices and procedures. The 2011 class mission is: Leadership Vernon is a group of individuals from throughout Vernon coming together in order to learn about their community and find ways to help Vernon be further utilized and grow. Here you can follow progress of the class on Facebook.


Texas Rural Internship Program Feature: Internship Program Gives Student a Taste of Rural Life

The Texas Rural Internship Program is a joint initiative between the Center for Rural Studies and the Texas Department of Agriculture. This is the second year for the program. Lindsay Byrd, one of eight students, participated in the program this year. Byrd's experience in Levelland is featured here.

To view the intern's presentations and videos, click here.

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