2021 Energize! conference to feature rural South Dakota success stories


BROOKINGS – Milbank is gearing up to host the third annual Energize! Conference – an opportunity for South Dakotans to hear about successful revitalizations, community projects and business opportunities happening in rural communities across the state. 

Hosted by South Dakota State University Extension Community Vitality, the conference highlights rural innovation in a different rural community each year.

“For those interested in revitalizing their Main Street, there will be an opportunity to hear from Miller, Volga, Milbank and our keynote speaker about ideas that worked in real communities in rural areas,” says Kari O’Neill, SDSU Extension community Vitality Program manager. “We will have speakers sharing how they funded community projects, such as Fort Pierre funding their community garden, Roberts County adding a 4-H/Community Building and Langford’s Area Community Foundation completing projects in a town of 350 people. These are just a few examples of the success stories we will be highlighting during this year’s conference.”

Energize! 2021 will be held Aug. 11 and 12 and headlining this year’s event will be keynote speaker Amanda Brinkman from the television series, “Small Business Revolution.” Brinkman will join the conference for the first day and evening to engage with many community leaders and innovators.

In addition to Brinkman, the conference includes 16 different breakout sessions at various downtown Milbank businesses. Participants can choose between four tracks for targeted information: Uptown Revitalization, Funding Community Projects, Community Engagement and Supporting Local Businesses. Rural community leaders will be talking about successes they have experienced in their small towns with ideas that can be replicated in other rural areas.

“If you are one of the many rural community enthusiasts in South Dakota and want to learn about making your space even better, Energize! has education and networking to support your efforts,” says O’Neill. 

Registration for the conference is due by July 30. For more information, contact Peggy Schlechter, SDSU Extension community vitality field specialist.

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