Regional Rural Development Centers Celebrate 50th Anniversary

RRDC 50th Anniversary logo

2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Rural Development Act. Among its many outcomes, the Act led to the creation of the nation’s four Regional Rural Development Centers, which have since played a critical role in elevating Rural America through research, Extension education, and outreach. The Regional Rural Development Centers plan to commemorate the anniversary throughout the year with special events, publications, and engagement opportunities.

Passed into law on August 30, 1972, the Rural Development Act of 1972 consolidated multiple rural development initiatives into a single piece of legislation and ultimately led to the creation of America’s four Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDCs). The RRDCs play a vital connecting role in rural America, linking the research and educational outreach capacity of the nation’s public universities with communities, local decision-makers, entrepreneurs, families, and farmers and ranchers to help address a wide range of rural development issues.

The Centers will be hosting additional programs throughout the year to highlight the successes and impacts of their first 50 years of service to Rural America, and to prepare for the emerging opportunities and challenges of the future.

The country’s four Regional Rural Development Centers are:U.S. map showing the four RRDC regions

Learn more about the Regional Rural Development Centers at:

50th Anniversary Programs, Iniatives, and Events

Extension Committee on Organization and Policy and Experiment Station Committee on Organization and Policy take actions to recognize RRDCs

To help kick-off the year-long celebration, the RRDCs were joined by two key partner organizations, who each took actions formally recognizing the Centers’ significant contributions over the past 50 years and anticipating their leadership role in the continued vibrancy of rural America. The Board on Agriculture Assembly (BAA) Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) and Experiment Station Committee on Organization and Policy (ESCOP), which provide leadership and governance to the Cooperative Extension System and the State Agricultural Experiment Stations, respectively, each voted on the recognition at recent meetings.

ECOP’s resolution  |  ESCOP’s proclamation


NACDEP Workshop: Fostering Development in Rural America in the Next 50 Years – June 6, 2022, Indianapolis, IN

RRDC directors at NACDEP workshop

Presenters: Dr. Michael Wilcox and Dr. Maria Marshall (Purdue University & NCRCRD); Dr. Don Albrecht (WRDC and Utah State University); Dr. John Green (SRDC and Mississippi State University); Dr. Stephan Goetz and Dr. Jason Entsminger (NERCRD and Penn State University)

Held at the 2022 NACDEP Conference, this workshop was divided into three parts: a NIFA-led panel discussion (with RRDC Directors), an applied research presentation (based on national listening sessions/survey), and a forward-looking facilitated discussion (How will NACDEP and the RRDCs foster rural development in the next 50 years?).


Listening Sessions Initiative on Rural Community, Economic, and Workforce Development

In the wake of multiple chronic challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, rural communities and small towns across the United States are beginning to build back from the associated impacts on their economies, workforces, and communities. These recovery efforts pose critical questions of where and how to invest. To identify where stakeholders engaged in rural development see the greatest need, and the greatest opportunity, the Regional Rural Development Centers have embarked on a process to collect feedback through a year-long initiative. This feedback will be shared with with USDA NIFA and other federal partners as stakeholder feedback.

Read more about the Listening Sessions Initiative’s process and findings