On this episode, Chris Merrett from the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs responds to questions formed from students at Cuba High School in Cuba, IL. These questions reflect a range of challenges facing small towns, not only in Cuba, but throughout Forgottonia. The essential questions our students asked Chris include the following:
How do you feel about the road conditions in IL? Our small towns tend to get overlooked on issues with the pot holes in the roads. Being a teen driver I hate getting flat tires every other day.
How do you feel about lowering the amount of young citizens who leave IL for college? What is something we can do to help increase enrollment at WIU?
How do you think we can improve on getting rid of racism in small towns throughout IL?
What are the challenges to running a successful business in rural America? There’s a thousand different ways you can answer this question, and the answer really depends on the community you live in. But when it comes to who you should ask, I don’t think there is any one better than Chris Merrett, the Director of the Illinois Institute of Rural Affairs.
Of course, if you are not aware of the Institute (or IIRA as it’s often called) and what it is they do , then you’re likely to miss out on the experience and wisdom that Chris has to offer. Thus, here are three takeaways I’d like to share from my interview with Chris Merrett and the IIRA. (*NOTE: You can listen to our podcast interview through the link below or search Forgottonia Project wherever you find podcasts).
We are beyond pleased to share this interview with our friend Chris Merrett from the IL Institute for Rural Affairs. Chris is the Director of the Institute, which is located on the campus of Western IL University in Macomb, IL. The institute oversees research, outreach, teaching, and policy development that is comprised of 20 community development faculty and professionals. He serves on the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council and is the Chairperson of Rural Partners, which has raised over $6 million in external grant funding to support community and economic development outreach and research. Chris has researched and edited books on the topics of cooperatives and community development, and has published a range of articles on topics such as value-added agriculture, rural land use, social justice, and rural community and economic development.