Reimagining Rural with colorful thought bubble filled with rural related icon images

What is Reimagining Rural?

Reimagining Rural is a program to increase volunteer engagement in rural communities. Reimagining Rural communities each host an in-person gathering for their local volunteers and leaders to watch rural-focused speakers via Zoom.  Following the speakers, each community has their own local discussion about the ideas they heard from the speaker and how they might apply locally.  

 2024 Sessions and Speakers

Session 1 | Monday, January 29

6:00 P.M. - 8:00 P.M.
Tara Mastel Smiling in headshot

Tara Mastel is Program Lead for Community Vitality at MSU Extension where she works to support rural community vitality and local leaders.  She served nearly ten years as a Community and Economic Development Extension Agent in Jefferson County Montana where she led a range of projects including historic building renovations, industrial park development, farmer’s markets and local community foundations.  Tara grew up in Wolf Point and lives with her family in Red Lodge. 

Link to session recording and notable resources.

Session 2 | Monday, February 12

6:00 P.M. - 8:00 P.M.

Becky and Deb from Save Your Town Smiling

SaveYour.Town believes small towns can be saved by their own people using their own resources. Co-founders Deb Brown and Becky McCray joined forces in May 2015 to help small towns and rural communities thrive. Their research-backed Idea Friendly Method helps communities be more resilient and more open to new ideas. They deliver speeches and presentations internationally, lead site visits and community brainstorming sessions, and create online videos and short courses of practical steps that can be put into action right away.

Becky McCray is a lifelong small-town entrepreneur. She shares insights from her real-world experience as a business owner and cattle rancher. Her practical perspective is featured at her highly-ranked website, Small Biz Survival, and in her award-winning book, Small Town Rules. She’s been featured and quoted in books, newspapers, magazines, blogs, podcasts and university publications. She makes her home in Hopeton, Oklahoma, a community of 30 people. Her goal is to deliver practical steps you can put into action right away to shape the future of your town.

Deb Brown is a small town enthusiast and expert for small towns. Her practical approach for getting communities into action right away has been shared at national conferences, local visits, service organizations  and everything in between. A wealth of experience includes foreign casualty insurance underwriting, bartending, retail management, selling knives around the US, leading a chamber and working with small towns. Deb has lived in tiny towns, small towns, small cities and a major metro city. Yet, she’s come home to a small town and travels to many other rural communities to help. She also has her own business

Link to session recording and notable resources.

Session 3 | Monday, February 26

6:00 P.M. - 8:00 P.M.

RebeccaUndemSmilingRebecca Undem has always been passionate about two things: people and talking to people. As an inspirational speaker, community advocate, author of How Mommy Got Her Groove Back™, and host of the podcast The Growing Small Towns Show, she’s put her gift of gab to good use.

Rebecca gained her chops as a people developer through an international talent management firm. She’s worked with hundreds of company leaders to improve their bottom-line results by focusing on their greatest asset: their people. 

As Founder and Executive Director of Growing Small Towns, a regional non-profit organization, Rebecca helps the communities they serve be places people love to call home through programs that grow their human, social, and cultural capital.

Not one to let people down, Rebecca still lives up to her childhood label of drama queen. She binges on Netflix shows, coffee, and anything that makes her feel verklempt—her self-declared favorite feeling. Rebecca went against her youthful declarations and married a farmer, Jeremiah, and together, they have three amazing kids: Andrew, Carter, and Brynlee. They love their small town and the crazy-good life they get to live there.

Link to session recording and notable resources.

Reimagining Rural and Big Sky, Big Leadership map indicating where programs have been presented in Montana.