Session Details

This year’s conference features four tracks, inspiring keynotes, a Friday pre-session, networking opportunities, lunch and dinner on Saturday, May 19, breakfast on Sunday, May 20, and all conference-related materials.

Please note, session details are subject to change. Check back often as we will continually update the website.

Friday, May 18, 1:00–4:00

How Do We Retain Our Young People and What’s the BOLD Question We Should Ask Instead?

Presented by Becky McCray, Rural and Small Town Business Expert

Every small community is concerned with the constant loss of young people. We’re also worried about the lack of volunteers, and our downtown is dying, and we’re missing out on tourism opportunities, and our infrastructure… It never ends! What if the answer to all these questions was the same thing? What if we’re missing the enormous problem right in front of us: we’re trying to navigate our way into the future using the same old procedures that we inherited from the past. There’s one underlying factor that leads to the loss of young people, lack of volunteers, our dying downtowns and all the rest: we’re too closed to new ideas. Young people feel shut out, so they move. New volunteers feel marginalized and forced into existing structures, so they stay home. Do you see a pattern? Together in one afternoon, we’re going to use this insight to reshape the future of our towns into being open to new ideas, prosperous, moving forward, and Idea Friendly. And yes, we’ll retain more young people.

Saturday, May 19, 8:30–9:30

Welcome & Opener

Saturday, May 19, 9:30–10:00


Saturday, May 19, 10:00–11:30

Rural Workforce: Jobs & Businesses
Clues to Creating Entrepreneurial Success
#WeAreRural: Perceptions of People and Economies in Rural Places
A Watershed Moment Cascading Forward: Economic and Ecologic Approaches to Water Management in the Northwest
Rural Community Networks: Building a Roadmap

Saturday, May 19, 11:45–12:45

Networking Lunch

Saturday, May 19, 1:00–2:30

Bring on the Broadband: Infrastructure in Rural
Transforming Rural Economies with Urban Market Demand
Philanthropy & Rural Community Development
Opportunities to Invest in Rural: The Rebirth of Traditional Rural-Based Sectors
The Secret Sauce for Catalytic Community Building

Saturday, May 19, 2:30–3:00


Saturday, May 19, 3:00–4:30

Navigating the Challenges of Rural Housing
Rural Economic Diversification and Innovation: The New Growth Sectors
Philanthropy & Rural Community Development
21st Century Forests
Participación de la Communidad

Saturday, May 19, 4:45–5:45


Saturday, May 19, 6:00–7:30

Dinner Keynote & Celebration

Saturday, May 19, 7:30–8:00


Sunday, May 20, 7:30–9:15 


Sunday, May 20, 9:30–11:00

The Future of Rural Farms, Ranches, & Businesses
Innovative Rural Capital

Sunday, May 20, 11:00–12:00

Keynote: What If We Were Bold?