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February 22, 2019



Opportunities for integration and connection of public, private and virtual services are changing rural communities. These partnerships can generate a thriving environment for community growth and, in its broadest sense, health and well-being. Winona Health is an independent community healthcare system comprised of a hospital, clinics, community-based services, and other ancillary operations serving the Winona, Minnesota area. President and CEO Rachelle Schultz will speak and lead discussion at the 30th Annual Rural Community and Economic Development Conference. For those arriving March 5, you can meet our speakers and IIRA staff from 7-9 p.m. in the Lincoln Room, and at the reception Wednesday from 5-6 p.m. in the Ballroom. "Making Rural Illinois an Exciting Place to Live" will highlight current efforts to realize the full potential of rural Illinois. The conference will be March 6-7, 2019, at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel, 701 E Adams Springfield, IL, in conjunction with the Governor's Rural Affairs Council and Rural Partners.



The Serve Illinois Commission is looking for volunteers to become AmeriCorps peer reviewers for the 2019-2020 funding cycle. This is a great opportunity to serve the communities of Illinois by learning more about programming and helping the Commission determine this coming year’s programming. You’ll also gain valuable experience with the grant-making process. Peer reviewers will get anywhere from 3-5 grants to review at their own pace, over the course of seven weeks (in March and April). Groups will then meet over the phone to discuss their reviews and submit final scores to the commission. To apply, go to the Serve Illinois application page.



The annual Great Backyard Bird Count, now in its 22nd year, is set to take place February 15-18, 2019. During this popular citizen science event, people from all over the world head outdoors to count birds and the data are used by scientists to track the health of bird populations. Register here. Participants are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the four-day event and report their sightings online at Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from beginning bird watchers to experts, and you can participate from your backyard, or anywhere in the world. Plus there’s a cool free app that lets you count birds anywhere, anytime. It’s called eBird and you can get it here. According to the Great Backyard Bird Count, during the 2018 count, bird watchers from more than 100 countries submitted more than 180,000 bird checklists reporting a record 6,456 species – more than half the known bird species in the world.



Developing a Creative Economy, Thursday, March 14 at Noon (CST), will share how community leaders can foster a culture that appreciates and supports the creative business endeavors of residents, including those living in low-resource households. Creative entrepreneurs include artists, designers, musicians, boutique retailers, specialty food producers, and other creative enterprises. The webinar will address how a community can support business development from local entrepreneurs as they create start-ups and informal grassroots, “micro-activities” that contribute to the local economy. Accessing new markets and distribution channels allows creative entrepreneurs to test their markets while providing a unique shopping experience for consumers, increased opportunities for local tourism, and revenue generation for both the business and the community.



March 6-7 (Springfield) - 30th Annual Economic Development Conference

March 14 (Webinar) - Developing a Creative Economy

March 21-22 - 2019 Emerging Contaminants in the Environment Conference

May 16 (Belleville) - Southern Illinois Volunteerism Conference

June 5 (Springfield) - Central Illinois Volunteerism Conference

July 14-17 (Columbia, MO) - Community Development Society Annual Conference

August 12-15 (Moline) - Midwest Community Development Institute