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Addiction, mental health, housing among critical issues to be covered at IU Rural Conference

For Immediate Release May 16, 2023

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Issues of rural health, resilience and vitality will take center stage at the Indiana University Rural Conference, presented by the IU Center for Rural Engagement. The conference takes place May 18 and 19 at French Lick Resort.

A woman smiles. Carrie Docherty. Photo courtesy of Indiana University

Antoniette Holt, director of minority health at the Indiana Department of Health, will share insights about health disparities and efforts to increase health equity across Indiana on May 18. Carrie Docherty, Indiana University vice provost for faculty and academic affairs, will discuss the IU 2030 strategic plan and its focus on service to the state.

Ross DeVol, president and CEO of Heartland Forward, will deliver keynote remarks on May 19. A national institute for economic renewal, Heartland Forward’s mission is to unleash the Heartland’s potential and improve economic performance in the center of the United States by advocating for fact-based solutions to foster job creation, knowledge-based and inclusive growth and improved health outcomes.

“Collaboration fuels community vitality,” said Kerry Thomson, executive director at the IU Center for Rural Engagement. “When we learn from each other — draw upon our own experiences and listen to the experiences of our neighbors and colleagues — we build a path to a brighter future together. The IU Rural Conference offers inspiration and practical tools that foster new possibilities.”

A woman speaks at a podium. Kerry Thomson, executive director of the Center for Rural Engagement at IU Bloomington. Photo by Chris Meyer, Indiana University

May 18 sessions include a panel discussion on mental health and substance use disorder in rural communities featuring:

Breakout sessions will include topics on food as medicine, digital equity and innovative community health partnerships. Select sessions on May 18 have been approved for continuing education units by the IU School of Social Work.

A conversation about creating inclusive communities on May 19 will feature:

May 19 breakout sessions will focus on rural housing development, creative placemaking, and equity and inclusion.

The 2024 solar eclipse, which will blanket parts of Indiana in complete darkness and attract visitors from around the world on April 8, will also be a featured topic on May 19. The conference will include a special announcement about eclipse programming opportunities for communities and a breakout session on the science behind eclipses and best practices for safe viewing.

The IU Rural Conference is open to the public. Tickets are $80 for both days and $50 for a single day, which includes meals and materials. A limited number of scholarships are available for those who could not otherwise participate. The full conference schedule and registration are available on the event website.

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Julia Hodson

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Director of Communications, IU Center for Rural Engagement

Kyla Cox Deckard

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