Tifton Gazette

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November 5, 2012

Wood to speak at ABAC Nov. 14

TIFTON — A former newspaper reporter who now writes about rural America will be the featured speaker at the Cordell Lecture Series, Nov. 14 at 4 p.m. in Bowen Hall, Room 100 on the campus of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.

Richard Wood, a former reporter for the “Rocky Mountain News” in Denver, will speak on his book, “Survival of Rural America: Small Victories and Bitter Harvests”, published in 2008 by the University Press of Kansas and selected as a Notable Book by the Kansas Center for the Book at the State Library of Kansas.  He was the Kansas Day speaker at Washburn University in 2009 and a featured speaker at the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas in 2009.

The Cordell Lecture Series is named in honor of Tom M. Cordell, former dean and coordinator of the continuing education program at ABAC.  Cordell, who passed away in 1991, was recognized as “Man of the Year” by the “Progressive Farmer” magazine in 1971.  Always open to the public at no charge, the lecture series in Cordell’s honor began in 1985.  

The presentation is significant to ABAC because the college has the only Rural Studies bachelor’s degree in America.  ABAC students enrolled in the degree program concentrate on one of four areas: social and community affairs, arts and culture, writing and communication, or business and economic development.

“Survival of Rural America” examines the causes and effects of the massive depopulation of rural communities throughout the world. Using Kansas as a surrogate for rural areas everywhere, it tells the stories of people in small, remote towns who are trying to stabilize their populations, and – in most cases - are failing to do so.  

The book also provides a counterpoint to “What’s the Matter With Kansas,” Thomas Frank’s 2005 best seller, in which he argued that the decline of rural Kansas primarily was caused by the political choices made by the state.  In “Survival of Rural America,” Wood contends that rural decline is a worldwide phenomenon, largely unaffected by politics.

Wood received a B.A. in history from the University of Kansas, an M.A. from New York University in political science, and his law degree from Georgetown Law Center in Washington, D.C.

His first book titled “Here Lies Colorado,” a history of the state with a series of short biographies of notable figures from Colorado and Colorado families, was published in 2005.  From the early 1800s to date of issue, “Here Lies Colorado” provides an historical perspective on the people and families that made Colorado what it is today.

Wood is a native of Kansas City, Ill., but now makes his home in Estes Park and Denver, Colo..

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