Michelle Rathman, nationally known rural health and community engagement strategist, speaker, and writer, is the new host of Rural Matters, effective September 1, 2018. Her debut episode will release on September 10 and feature guest Alan Morgan, President of the National Rural Health Association.

Rathman replaces Mara Casey Tieken who has been a superb host and an invaluable contributor to Rural Matters, helping the program become the leading podcast in the country focused on expanding the dialogue among stakeholders in the areas of education, health and business in rural communities. Since launching in September 2017, the podcast has reached nearly 5,000 downloads, and has attracted national sponsors such as the American Association of School Administrators (The School Superintendents Association) and the National Rural Education Association, along with marketing partners that include the National Rural Education Association; Center for Rural Affairs; Ohio Small and Rural Collaborative; Foundation for Rural Service; NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association; Harvard Graduate School of Education Rural Educators Alliance; Community Hospital Corporation; and Journal of Research in Rural Education. Rural Matters is available on iTunes. Google Play, and Stitcher.

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Alternative Rural Education with Paul Campbell

Listen to Alternative Rural Education with Paul Campbell

Michelle chats with Paul Campbell, president and CEO of Enviro Systems, Inc., and founder and chairman of Advanced Rural Education, a nonprofit that launched a charter school in rural Oklahoma. Campbell describes how Enviro was concerned about recruiting and retaining talent in a rural setting, and that the perceived lack of educated personnel was a key factor behind that concern. How did Campbell implement his vision? By setting up “dinners and learn,” armed with a PowerPoint presentation, which created a lot of excitement in the community. Charters are “incubators” for education innovation, according to Campbell, and his school will be Pre-K through 12th grade in the next couple of years. The uniqueness of Campbell’s school is its focus beginning in ninth grade on a student’s choice for a career, which gets them to be prepared for that career, which might include college. Campbell’s students graduate with an Associate’s degree, giving them a leg up, to say the least, if they choose to go on to college. Those choices of career could range from veterinary medicine to professional sports. Really. If someone wants to start their own business, they’re asked to come up with a business plan. Really. This episode was sponsored by the National Rural Education Association, www.nrea.net, and Education Post, https://educationpost.org.

NREA’s 2018 Rural Teacher of the Year: Wade Owlett

Listen to NREA’s 2018 Rural Teacher of the Year: Wade Owlett

Michelle chats with Wade Owlett, the National Rural Education Association’s 2018’s Rural Teacher of the Year, about several important issues in rural education, including teaching students who are living in poverty, Ginny Mead’s hope theory, skills training, and teacher recruitment, and innovation. Owlett, who grew up on a dairy farm and now teaches at Clark Elementary School in Elkland, PA, notes that, in the educational setting, poverty can be traumatic, affecting everything from student achievement to health care, nutrition, and the opioid crisis. It’s important for teachers to offer hope and be facilitators in guiding students in their lives, Owlett asserts. How? By developing positive relationships with kids. In Pennsylvania, he points out, there’s an increased emphasis on job skills. Owlett is working on an interesting initiative to enable students to gain certification in different areas, such as babysitting. On the issue of teacher recruitment, rural schools tend to spend less on teacher salaries compared to urban schools, which is a key element, along with professional development, in recruiting teacher in rural communities. Owlett asserts proudly that he loves teaching at a rural school because he knows every student’s name and that adjacent communities are very supportive of each other. Bottom line: “Everything is connected in rural areas…which we should all embrace.” This episode was sponsored by the National Rural Education Association, www.nrea.net

Nutrition, Telehealth & Insurance with Kendall Singleton

Listen to Nutrition, Telehealth & Insurance with Kendall Singleton

Michelle chats with Kendall Singleton, head of business development at Healthy Bytes, a company that helps dietitians in both private settings and at corporations to get set up and paid for their services. Singleton points out that dietitians wear a lot of hats, as food is a type of medicine and is wrapped up in the basic human condition.  Today, she notes, a referral from a primary care physician is not necessarily needed for the services for dietitians to be reimbursed for their services. Also today, nutrition counseling is being delivered through a live video conversation through appropriate telehealth platforms, which are HIPAA compliant, such as Zoom, but not Skype. To be covered, insurance companies look for claims that include actual consultations with the reasons for the consult, documented eligibility for services, and proper filing of claims, all of which Healthy Bytes can assist dietitians with for reimbursement.  Healthy Bytes works with government funded insurers, such as Medicare and Medicaid, which has upsides and limitations for dietitian reimbursement, such as medical condition restrictions. This episode was sponsored by Healthy Bytes, www.healthybytes.co and AASA, the School Superintendents Association, www.aasa.org.

Rural Vitality & Latino Entrepreneurs with Griselda Rendon and Sandra Barrera

Listen to Rural Vitality & Latino Entrepreneurs with Griselda Rendon and Sandra Barrera

Michelle chats with Griselda Rendon, Latino Loan Specialist at the Center for Rural Affairs, and

Sandra Barrera, Extension Educator of Community Vitality, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln about several key rural matters. The guests discuss the burgeoning entrepreneurship among the Latino community in Nebraska and how the two organizations have collaborated to provide a resource and financial assistance to 123 small businesses in the state, including bakeries and travel agencies. The key to entrepreneurial success, the guests note, is for the entrepreneurs to follow their passion. The program includes walking tours to see how the local businesses are actually operating. As 2019 approaches, the guests note, they want to continue the successful path they have established in 2018, and to work on child care situations.

National Rural Health Day with Karen Madden, Teryl Eisinger, and David Sabgir

Listen to National Rural Health Day with Karen Madden, Teryl Eisinger, and David Sabgir

In celebration of National Rural Health Day on November 15, Michelle chats with Karen Madden, Director of the Charles D. Cook Office of Rural Health, Center for Health Care Policy and Resource Development, New York State Department of Health, and Founder of National Rural Health Day; Teryl Eisinger, Executive Director of the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health; and Dr. David Sabgir, Founder & CEO of Walk with a Doc. Eisinger notes that Natural Rural Health Day started about a decade ago as a way of garnering attention to the good work done by stakeholders in rural health and to the disparities that exist in rural communities. Eisinger discusses the value of the organic partnerships focusing on the needs of rural constituents, specifically citing the Community Star program, which this year has more than 100 nominations. Madden discusses the honor of winning the National Rural Health Association award and the significance of the slogan her organization coined —The Power of Rural.  Sabgir talks about the importance of physical activity, including the recent study by the Cleveland Clinic, and why his program provides the follow-up needed to better ensure patients actually participate in physical activity. There are now 431 chapters of Walk with a Doc in the United States, he notes, deploying the one-hour walk with a care provider—resulting in demonstrable positive outcomes. Eisinger and Madden also provide specific examples of the interconnection between rural health activities, and rural schools and education, and business. This episode is sponsored by AASA, the School Superintendent’s Association, www.aasa.org

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