South Central Family Symposium highlights rural community growth

South Central Family Symposium highlights rural community growth

Posted: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 8:01 pm

A community can’t thrive unless it has economic opportunities and strong families. But just how does a community — especially in a rural area of Tennessee — create growth and sustainability? That’s one of the topics that will be explored in an event coordinated by University of Tennessee Extension in Lincoln County.
The South Central Family Symposium for 2011 has the theme “Broadening Our Horizons: A Brighter Future for Tennessee Communities.” The symposium will be held Monday and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Motlow State Community College’s Sundquist Center located in Fayetteville. The cost of the symposium will be $50, and that covers materials and some meals. To register, contact UT Extension in Lincoln County at (931) 433-1582 or e-mail maustin2@utk.edu.
The symposium is a hands-on training opportunity for professionals who work with families in poverty, giving them the tools and information they need to help improve their financial situation and familial structure and roles. Any professional should find this information relevant to their work with families in need, including social workers, educators, counselors, government leaders, child care providers and those in the faith-based field. This is the sixth year for the symposium.
“The symposium this year is about sustaining rural families and their communities in challenging economic times,” says Shea Austin, Family and Consumer Sciences agent with UT Extension in Lincoln County. “We started this as a way to provide national quality conference training in a rural area. We will look at what other communities are doing, and then work on solutions to our own problems our rural communities are facing,” Ms. Austin said.
Ms. Austin helped coordinate the symposium and will lead a session titled “Getting Ahead in a ‘Just Getting By’ World.” Co-leader Dorothea Thompson, who works for UT Extension in the Children, Youth and Families At-Risk (CYFAR) program in Lincoln County, said the session will focus on a pilot study done in Fayetteville about families in need. CYFAR is a sponsor of the symposium.
Other sessions will include a presentation by Dr. Matt Devereaux, associate professor and child development specialist with UT Extension. His seminar is titled “Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys.”
“It’s important for boys to learn to show their emotions, their ‘sensitive’ side,” Dr. Devereaux says. “Research shows that many boys raised without a father or male influence tend to be more aggressive and abusive to other kids and spouses and their own children later in life. They need the skills to show their emotional attributes in order to develop positive family relationships.”
Dr. Michael Wilcox, associate professor of agricultural economics with UT Extension, will present his work with the Southern Rural Development Center and the Tennessee Rural Economic Development Center at UT.
The keynote speaker for the symposium will be Monica Herrera with University of Minnesota Extension and director of the “Horizon Program.”
This program has received national attention for efforts to address rural poverty and has had great success in utilizing citizens to create study groups to address community issues.

Published in The Messenger 6.1.11

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