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Local Leaders Honored at Iowa Rural Summit

AMES, IA – The 7th Annual Iowa Rural Summit last week included a special recognition of seven rural leaders, ranging from a retired economics professor to a couple in the magazine publishing business.

The Iowa Rural Summit brings together leaders from small towns across Iowa each year, and this year’s event included a special tribute to a group of individuals who have made a difference in their rural community or region.  The Summit is hosted by the Iowa Rural Development Council (IRDC), a statewide non-profit focused on small-town and rural vitality.

The Rand Fisher Rural Leadership Award, sponsored by the IADG Community Foundation, recognizes individuals in rural economic and community development, philanthropy, the arts and utilities.  The honorees are nominated by friends, colleagues or anyone who values their contributions to rural places.  The final selection is by an IRDC screening committee.

The 2023 recipients are:

  • Cody Bunda, Pocahontas
  • Mark Edelman, Boone
  • Shannon Erb, Leon
  • Aryn Henning Nichols and Benji Nichols, Decorah
  • Bruce Perry, Sac City
  • Heather Ussery, Knoxville

“These individuals each brought a unique set of contributions to their community, county, region or the entire state,” said Mark Reinig, IRDC board president.  “Each demonstrates in their own way how a leader can make a huge difference for an entire community.”

With a crowd of more than 360 individuals from 70 different small towns, the Iowa Rural Summit addressed issues this year ranging from child care to health care to recruiting rural dentists.

(Left to right:  Bruce Hansen, IADG; Bruce Perry, Sac County; Shannon Erb, Decatur County’ Gary Taylor, ISU/IRDC; Sandy Ehrig, IRDC; Cody Bunda, Pocahontas; Benji Nichols, Decorah; Aryn Henning Nichols, Decorah; Mark Reinig, ISU/IRDC; Heather Ussery, Knoxville; Mark Edelman, Boone; Jim Thompson, IEDA/IRDC; Amy Kuhlers, IEDA/IRDC; Rand Fisher, IRDC)

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