Conversations about rural communities often focus on the challenges they face. But just like every region, rural communities are filled with vibrancy, leadership, and entrepreneurship. To explore how one community is utilizing their assets to support rural development, this site visit will take us an hour north of Spokane to Pend Oreille County. The county has a population of just over 13,000 people who live within about 1,400 square miles of picturesque rivers, lakes, and mountains. Unlike many other rural regions, Pend Oreille County also has an innovative grant-funded fiber optic internet infrastructure that serves the full county and supports local economic growth efforts.
We’ll start the day by visiting the Kalispel Indian Reservation in the community of Usk. The Kalispel Tribe is a strong partner committed to supporting not only the Tribal community, but also its surrounding neighbors, and is deeply engaged on many projects related to food sovereignty, wellness, and community development. We’ll visit the Camas Center for Community Wellness, a beautiful facility providing holistic health care and wellness programs to neighboring communities; have a chance to see the grocery store the Tribe is building within an area that is very much a food desert; and hear about the Tribe’s extensive philanthropic work throughout the region. Participants will have an opportunity for hands-on learning around nutritional education and Tribal foods, and a chance to get up close and personal with the Kalispel buffalo herd while learning about natural resources management efforts.
We’ll also head to the Cusick Food Bank to visit with stakeholders from Washington State University Stevens County Extension and learn about their micro-scale Farm to Food Pantry and Farm to School program that is active within a three-county region. A testament to right-scale infrastructure, the program pays local growers for fresh produce and transports it to food pantries and schools. Join us to learn more about opportunities to partner with community leaders and cultivate health, wellness, vitality, and economic development within rural communities.
Sponsored by Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
Kalispel Indian Reservation, Cusick, WA
● Afton Servas, public relations coordinator, Kalispel Tribe of Indians
● Matthew Lower, senior planner, Kalispel Tribe of Indians
● Shantel Whitford, sous chef, Kalispel Tribe of Indians
● Carol Mack, retired / former Tribal Extension project director, WA State University Pend Oreille County Extension
Cusick Food Bank, Cusick, WA
● Joyce Beach, volunteer, Cusick Food Bank
● Gary Beach, volunteer, Cusick Food Bank
● Nils Johnson, ag and food systems program coordinator, Washington State University Stevens County Extension, Colville, WA