what we do
what we`are working on now

There is a very different future emerging for rural places, and it begs for a new depth of thinking and a new source of action. Based on proven experience in Miner County, South Dakota, the Rural Learning Center team works to bring new hope to small communities, by going deep.

We're inviting rural people to open their eyes, their hearts and their minds-- to color outside the lines. We believe people matter more than programs and projects. We're changing the conversation to one of real collaboration, shared learning and deep, lasting change.

We think of our work in four core areas. Just click to learn more:


The Miner County Learning and Demonstration Lab

By transforming itself and its way of thinking, Miner County, South Dakota has become a learning lab for rural communities throughout the nation. From our headquarters in Howard, South Dakota, the Rural Learning Center team continues a decade-long partnership with the people of Miner County to build local capacity and transform our regional community.
People from other rural communities look to Miner County for experience and inspiration. We host learning journeys on-site and at-a-distance, and showcase ideas that have worked for us.

Get in touch if you're interested in visiting Miner County.

Learn more about our remarkable story of local transformation here.


Reaching Out to Rural People and Communities

Rooted in a journey of local change sparked in tiny Howard High School thirteen years ago, The Rural Learning Center organization was born of a desire to share with the world what had been tried, tested and learned in Miner County, South Dakota.

Today we partner with local groups in select rural communities outside Miner County, where we share discoveries and co-lead processes of change with them. These relationships are deep, long-term engagements where we're guiding and helping local people lead transformational movements. We call them 'Learning Communities.'

We also partner with many other organizations to foster real change in rural communities. Sometimes we convene these collaborative change projects, other times we're invited by others to play our part. All of our work in rural is about learning together, and reimagining rural through a new lense.


A Place for Rural Learning in Howard

The Rural Learning Center is both organization and place. Today, our building in Howard, SD is already a small hive of activity, and our vision for tomorrow is even bigger.

We are in the midst of co-creating a one-of-a-kind 'green' conference and training center to be built on Howard's Main Street. It's a collaborative process where the local community, industry, education and all kinds of stakeholders have come together to design a facility that will provide a place for people to Reimagine Rural. And you can play your part.

Learn more about our vision for the Maroney Rural Learning Center facility.


Co-hosting a Learning Network of Rural Practitioners

We see our work as part of a much larger movement. There are so many people and organizations out there on the ground doing the messy, difficult work of turning small rural communities around. We can all build stronger processes and thinking by improving the network - forming new relationships, expanding world views, and counting on each other.

The Rural Learning Center team is a co-convener and co-host for this network of learners and doers. We help connect people and organizations from around our state and the region to share stories and discoveries. We also play a role in other clusters of learning, like the Northwest Area Foundation's Ventures Community Learning Network, the Kellogg Foundation's Rural People Rural Policy Network, the Rural Assembly and the Meadowlark Project.

Learn a bit more about us: What we're working on now (our current projects), Miner County Roots (how we came to be), Remarkable Results (how we've reimagined rural so far), What we believe (our principles and values), or Who we are (staff, board, friends and partners).