PULLMAN, Wash. A seven-state program aimed at reducing poverty, including the program led by Washington State University Extension, is the latest recipient of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Partnership Award for Multistate Efforts.
The Horizon program, funded for the past seven years by the Northwest Area Foundation, works directly with residents of small, rural communities. It helps them build capacity and leadership infrastructure for economic and community development, said Doreen Hauser-Lindstrom, WSU Extension’s youth and families program director who helped spearhead the Horizons program in Washington.
“This national award is strong affirmation of the meaningful impacts on our rural communities made possible by the WSU Extension Horizons program,” said Randy Baldree, interim associate director for WSU Extension.
Since its inception in 2004, 284 communities across the seven-state region have completed the 18-month program. Tonasket, Omak and Bridgeport constituted the first “class” in Washington; other Horizons graduates include Northport, TumTum, Rosalia, Sprague, Royal City, Mossy Rock, Rochester, Goldendale and Wishram.
Horizon’s success is attributed to three factors, Hauser-Lindstrom said.
“The strongest factor in Horizons’ success is that it is totally grassroots oriented,” she said. “It is primarily through the community’s strengths, initiative and drive that the program grows and succeeds.”
The program also provides quality coaching for each participating community and has a strong emphasis on leadership development, she said.