If you are involved in rural education in any form or fashion, you need to mark September 18-20 on your calendar and plan to be at the University of West Alabama in Livingston for their rural education conference.

This event will focus on place-based education which is basically using local resources in the learning process.  Instead of students sitting in front of computers are studying from a textbook all day, they explore their everyday world to make their classroom learning come alive.

Aptly named Digging Into Rural Traditions (DIRT 17), the conference features an array of outstanding presenters.

Go here for more info and how to register.  There is no charge for registration and meals are provided without charge.  But you need to act ASAP as registration is limited to 200 and 150 have already signed up.

Nate McClellan with Teton Science Schools in Wyoming and Utah will give several presentations.  This is a unique program that began in 1967 and emphasizes place-based education.  Cathy Grace, co-director of the Graduate Center for the Study of Early Learning at the University of Mississippi will be one keynote speaker.  Alabama attorney Liz Huntley, author of More Than A Bird  will also keynote.

Jimmy Wayne, a country music artist and a one time foster child, will give a concert on Sept. 19.  He is a tireless advocate for at-risk foster youth.

It promises to be a very worthwhile conference for anyone involved with those places “beyond the interstate.”