STATE COLLEGE, PA — Kim Rickard, community network specialist for Wayne County’s strategic planning group, Wayne Tomorrow, recently attended a community prosperity training summit at Penn …
STATE COLLEGE, PA — Kim Rickard, community network specialist for Wayne County’s strategic planning group, Wayne Tomorrow, recently attended a community prosperity training summit at Penn State University, hosted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement.
Rickard, one of several presenters, gave an overview of the Wayne Tomorrow initiative, a county-sponsored, community-based collaboration focused on projects, resources, and infrastructure that can help stimulate economic prosperity in the area. She also talked about the challenges the county and its growth initiative face.
USDA launched the Centers of Community Prosperity program in October to help communities engage in a bottom up, locally driven process to address challenges in their regions, and foster hope, opportunity, wealth creation, and asset building in rural and underserved areas. These efforts stem from the White House Rural Prosperity Task Force, chaired by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and the White House Executive Order on Establishing Communities of Faith and Opportunity.
To date, USDA has worked with local partners to bring together more than 1,000 institutional and community partners with USDA agencies and the Department of Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and other federal agencies. These trainings have resulted in grants and leadership endowments to address community challenges such as veteran outreach, improving regional food systems, and combating substance abuse.
Part of the plan is to help communities establish "local prosperity councils" that engage the USDA, federal, state, regional organizations and public and private entities.
“Learning more about the Centers of Community Prosperity’s mission and vision was informative and inspirational,” Rickard said. “Wayne County, PA is a unique, rural county that can benefit from the ideas and resources shared at this summit. It is a vision that I feel most communities would strive for, to create a “climate of success” that will foster hope and opportunity for our families, farmers and businesses.”
The County Commissioners hired Rickard earlier this year to, among other things, serve as administrative support for Wayne Tomorrow and its task forces, which focus on agriculture; housing; talent and financial resource development; transportation; community hubs; and community health and wellness. The initiative is now entering the “action stage” after several years of study, analysis and internal review.
Rickard brings 25 years of professional experience to her role with Wayne Tomorrow. Her background includes sales and marketing, management, education human services and the tourism industry. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies from Bloomsburg University.
Her main role has been working with the recently formed task forces, shepherding their efforts and tracking their progress, spreading the word about Wayne Tomorrow and nurturing volunteerism.
Rickard and her husband, Craig, reside in Honesdale, PA where they raise their two sons, Colin and Ethan. While raising her sons, she also volunteered with the local school district, at the Cooperage Project, as a coach for the local softball league and the school tennis team and with different youth ministries at Grace Ridge Church, where she is a member.