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IU Rural Center Wraps Lawrence County Pilot Project

Bill Brown, Executive Director for Indiana University’s Center for Rural Engagement, speaks to community leaders at Bedford’s Downtown Depot. (Brock Turner, WFIU/WTIU News)

Indiana University capped its school year weeks ago, but IU’s Center for Rural Engagement put the finishing touches on the Sustaining Hoosier Communities Initiative in Lawrence County Wednesday.  The initiative connects IU students, faculty and staff with surrounding communities to help problem solve.

Altogether, 550 students joined 16 faculty from eight IU schools to complete 40 projects over the course of the school year. The projects  varied from mental health to quality of place and education.

University officials praised Lawrence County for helping articulate future community visions. Bedford is Lawrence County’s largest city.

Mayor Shawna Girgis (I-Bedford) says she hopes to keep many of the partnerships alive even though this specific program is over.  She is excited to foster her connection both with students and faculty.

“It really is a benefit to communities to have that kind of expertise,” Girgis says. “Our resources and time are limited, so it just us options and possibilities that otherwise wouldn’t be there, so we’re really grateful for that opportunity.”

The Center has already started work on their Orange County project that will launch when students return in August.

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