African and african american studies


RURAL AND AGRICULTURAL STUDIES



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RURAL AND AGRICULTURAL STUDIES

Jessica Clark,

Western Wyoming Community College

Andrea Mott Glessner,



Cowley Community College
Anthony J. Amato,

Southwest Minnesota State University


“Permanent Moonshine: Corn, Crep, and the American Midwest”
In early December 2015, with gasoline prices south of two dollars a gallon, the United States Environmental Protection Agency announced an extension and expansion to the ethanol mandate. The move received mixed reactions across the US. An odd alliance of big oil, environmentalists, and conservatives decried the expansion, and an shaky coalition of famers and Midwestern lawmakers welcomed it. A review of ethanol production and the arguments for it and against it reveal the complexities at the heart of the concept of sustainability. The demands for corn cultivation for ethanol production have received much criticism for their negative impact on the Conserve Reserve Program and Conserve Reserve Enhancement Program. Ethanol production, some argue, have kept and pulled into production otherwise marginal lands that would have gone into conservation programs. “Permanent Moonshine” explores this hypothesis and expands into the lesser-known controversies of ethanol and conservation across the prairies.

Amanda B. Biles,

North Dakota State University
“Feeding the Multitudes: Faith, Foodways, and Fundraising on the North American Prairie”
This paper examines the tradition of the Fall Supper on the North American prairie. This regional practice developed in farming communities of the plains in both the United States and Canada, emerging as a unique comingling of immigrant foodways with the distinctly North American prairie farm experience. Initially a harvest celebration–often used to raise money for local church efforts or community endeavors—the tradition quickly became a bastion of female leadership and a symbol of ethnic heritage. Forming largely in church basements and community centers, the practice has since been adapted into numerous incarnations, including some—like the “Prairie Fairies Fowl Supper”—that raise money in support of LGBTQ charities. Though modern regulations, declining church membership, and urbanization have heavily impacted the practice, hungry folks can still fill their plates at hundreds of suppers across North Dakota, Minnesota, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan each Autumn.

Jessica Clark,

Western Wyoming Community College
“‘Who Lived in Gebo!:’ Reconstructing the Narrative of a Forgotten Place”
“Naturally being a gungho Union Camp,” writes Jack King, a former resident of Gebo, Wyoming, “Labor Day was a big event.”  He remembers elaborate celebrations, lasting on the upward of 24 hours, in honor of this day.  There were age-appropriate activities for all, from three-legged races to greased pig contests to bike races and more.  And, “endless FREE POP, ICE CREAM, BEER AND FOOD FOOD FOOD.”  The festivities also included street bands, dances, and boxing matches.  Labor Day was a time of celebration in this imagined community – a community that is all but forgotten. In 1987, nearly 20 years after the town was bulldozed, Jack King decided to set his childhood memories to paper in his memoir aptly titled: “Gebo: My Home Town as Remembered 48 Years Later!”  According to King, his childhood hometown “does not now exist it is not a ghost town … it no longer physically exists!”  Established in 1907, near present-day Thermopolis, Gebo existed as a coal camp for the Owl Creek Coal Company (henceforth Owl Creek).  Named after Samuel Wilford Gebo this town operated as a company town, with Owl Creek owning most (if not all) of the local businesses, including the market, the real estate (housing), and the bank.  At its height this town existed with more than 20,000 people, mostly miners and their families.  Yet, by 1971, there was almost no physical remnants of the town, and, presently, few remember this place.  Regardless, the children of Gebo will never forget – this town shaped their sense of place, their sense of history, and their sense of identity.

Melia Dayley,

Western Wyoming Community College
“Shepards of Change: The Matthew Shepard Legacy”
A brisk fall breeze blew through the October night air as a pickup truck rolled down an empty Wyoming road. The three college students in the truck pulled over to a wooden fence on the outskirts Laramie. Two of the boys, Aaron McKinney and Russel Henderson, pulled the third boy Matthew Shepard out of the truck and commenced with a vicious beating. Using the butt of a .357 magnum, McKinney bashed Shepard's skull repeatedly until blood ran freely from him and a notable indent in Sherpard's head appeared. McKinney and Henderson tied up the unconscious and barely alive Shepard to the wooden fence, stringing his arms out to the side of him. Shepard's limp body leaned against the ground and fence in the cold evening air. Two bicyclists discovered Shepard the next morning and thought the beaten, bloody, and bruised body resembled that of the crucified Christ. This vicious murder of Shepard, a gay Wyoming boy, garnered attention regionally and nationally, as a hate-crime narrative began to take hold. Amidst overwhelming feelings of confusion and sadness, Wyomingites struggled to make sense of such a cruel act in their state, a state with an internal identity rooted in a history of equality. Headlines told stories of an act of hate by two unruly and uncivilized young men. Politicians, churches, and college students all responded to the news reports by speaking out and creating anti-hate-crime activist initiatives.  Yet, in addition to the hate-crime narrative, there was evidence that this murder was nothing more than a drug deal gone wrong. This perspective, however, never gained wide acceptance, as the story of hate had already grasped the public's attention, and Shepard had transformed into a martyr for equality in the equality state. In other words, the mass media, religious and secular institutions, and politicians created a hate-crime narrative by responding to the traumatic memories of this horrific murder.

Stephen L. Eliason,



Montana State University – Billings
“Motivations for Choosing a Career in Conservation Law Enforcement”
Conservation law enforcement is a type of specialized policing that occurs mostly in rural areas. Game wardens have the primary responsibility of enforcing hunting and fishing laws. Little research exists on the motivations for entering this branch of specialized law enforcement. This study took a qualitative approach to data collection and examined the motivations of Montana state game wardens for choosing a career in wildlife law enforcement. Three main categories for becoming a warden were identified that included a desire to work in the outdoors, a desire to protect natural resources, and other. The findings of this study enhance our understanding of rural policing.

Jazmín Anaid Flores-Zuňiga,

Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana
Omar Adrían Domíguez Carrasco,

Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana
La Gastronomía como propuesta para el fortalecimiento de la cadena agroalimentaria; el caso de los pequeños productores de nopal en Tlalpan”
Desde la crisis macroeconómica de 1982 y el ajuste estructural derivado de éste, la agricultura en México ha sufrido un profundo proceso encaminado a privilegiar la capitalización del campo a través de empresas agroindustriales, afectando de manera sustancial al pequeño productor. La importancia del pequeño productor se fundamenta en el discurso de la soberanía alimentaria y se presenta como actividad clave para la reactivación de las economías locales con su valiosa participación dentro de los mercados regionales y como parte de la cadena de valor agroalimentaria.Es el caso de los pequeños productores de la delegación Tlalpan ubicada en la Ciudad de México, podemos observar que sufren los impactos del modelo político-económico consumista actual. Su principal producto es el nopal, el cual se presenta como la forma de sostén económica de muchas familias agrícolas remanentes en las inmediaciones de la capital del país. Los mercados públicos de esta delegación están formados por 20 establecimientos integrados por 1,483 locales con una superficie de 48,702 m2. Estos se presentan como el espacio idóneo de distribución y comercialización de los productos agrícolas. La propuesta que tenemos es la de fortalecer la cadena de valor agroalimentaria enfocándonos en la última fase del producto; la gastronomía. Desde este enfoque proponemos innovar las presentaciones de los platillos basándonos en el análisis de las recetas regionales, experiencias de agrotiendas e investigaciones académicas centradas en este producto. La innovación se plantea en incorporar el conocimiento tradicional gastronómico con el conocimiento científico y las nuevas tendencias de restaurantes fundamentados en la ideología de la “economía popular”  Tomando en cuenta la importancia del abastecimiento local y el respeto a las tradiciones y costumbres de la zona. Se utilizó metodología cualitativa, trabajo de campo y pruebas sensoriales para conocer las características de los platillos presentados en las comunidades.

Andrea Glessner,

Cowley County Community College
“Gender Distinctions in the Fight to Save the American Mustang”
Since the mid 1950s the fight to save American wild horses has gained a lot of attention.  Much of the effort for long-term conservation and protection has been embraced by men and women, yet there are still gender distinctions in the way the public and the media portrays certain individuals.  This paper will examine some of these gender distinctions and analyze the reasoning that goes into them.  Women at the forefront of the protection movement, especially famous ones like Wild Horse Annie, are viewed in a positive, almost motherly, way.  Many men, however, are viewed in negative ways and are often cast as villains.  Their roles in the fight to conserve the American mustang cannot go unnoticed, but sometimes they do.  These perspectives are shaped by what the public knows, or does not know, about each individual and his or her part in the fight to save one of America’s most iconic figures.  Examining these perspectives will provide a better understanding of gender distinctions in the fight to save the American mustang.

Andrea Glessner,

Cowley County Community College
Jessica Clark,

Western Wyoming Community College


Field trip attendees will meet in the hotel lobby at 9:45 a.m.

Cost: $15 (includes $5 museum admission and transportation)
Join us for the annual Rural and Agricultural Studies fieldtrip! Reno is a city full of history and we will be exploring a few local landmarks and cultural hotspots. Attendees should plan on having breakfast before meeting up in the hotel lobby. After breakfast, we’ll hop in a vehicle and head to the Nevada Historical Society, which is the oldest museum in Nevada and is located at the northern end of the University of Nevada, Reno campus. This museum was constructed in 1904 and houses a variety of exhibits that encompass details pertaining to local and regional history. Field trip participants will have time to peruse the exhibits and visit the museum store. If time permits we may be able to visit the university library. Once we pull ourselves away from the exhibits, and possibly the library, we’ll travel to Miguel’s Mexican Food for lunch. This is one of the finest and tastiest restaurants in town! After lunch we’ll take a short drive into downtown Reno where we will enjoy the Riverwalk and Arts District. This will include a stroll along the Truckee River and a chance to visit the variety of stores, coffee shops, and art galleries located here. We may also get a chance for photos at the Reno Arch, a famed landmark. Unfortunately, this will be the end of our tour. We will return to the conference hotel by 4:15. 
For questions about “Reno’s Light Side” contact Andrea Glessner at andrea.l.mott1@gmail.com or Jessica Clark at jclark@wwcc.wy.edu.

Clarence A. Herz,

North Dakota State University
“North Dakota’s First Oil Boom”
From the discovery of oil in April 1951 until roughly 1966 North Dakota experienced its first oil boom and companies flocked to North Dakota upon learning of the news that Amerada had struck oil. The State had no infrastructure, no petroleum industry, and labor pool to draw from so the first few years saw a rush of city, county, and state leaders trying to accomplish a great deal. Some men, such as Thomas Leach, and Wilson Laird were instrumental during this period. How did so few men accomplish so much in such a short amount of time? Answers to these any many more questions will be examined.

Thomas D. Isern,

North Dakota State University
“RCD: A Cold Case of Collective Memory” [cross-listed with New Zealand & Australia Studies]
The illegal introduction of the rabbit calicivirus disease (RCD) into New Zealand in 1997 is one of those outrageous acts that, in retrospect, no one seems to regret. It was, as the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment said, a “fiasco” of biosecurity. On the other hand, the European Gray rabbit has a long history as an agricultural and environmental pest in both Australia and New Zealand, and the disease has proved surprisingly efficacious in knocking back the pests and restoring the high country environment. Writing from the context of a regional history of the Lindis region of Central Otago, we interpret this incident from two perspectives: environmental history and social history. RCD raises puzzling questions about the role of animal ecology in environmental history. The circumstances of its introduction also invoke the concept of social banditry. Finally, RCD is an intriguing cold case of collective memory, or rather, collective amnesia. No one seems to know, or recall, who executed its outlaw introduction to the country.

Tom Isern,

North Dakota State University
William C. Schaniel,

University of West Georgia & Global Scholastic Services


Heather Steinmann,

Western New Mexico University


Andrea Glessner,

Cowley County Community College


“Don Watson’s The Bush: Travels in the Heart of Australia (Penguin 2014)” [cross-listed with New Zealand & Australia Studies]
Most Australians live in cities and cling to the coastal fringe, yet our sense of what an Australian is – or should be – is drawn from the vast and varied inland called the bush. But what do we mean by 'the bush,' and how has it shaped us? Starting with his forebears' battle to drive back nature and eke a living from the land, Don Watson explores the bush as it was and as it now is: the triumphs and the ruination, the commonplace and the bizarre, the stories we like to tell about ourselves and the national character, and those we don't. Via mountain ash and mallee, the birds and the beasts, slaughter, fire, flood and drought, swagmen, sheep and their shepherds, the strange and the familiar, the tragedies and the follies, the crimes and the myths and the hope – here is a journey that only our leading writer of non-fiction could take us on. At once magisterial in scope and alive with telling, wry detail, “The Bush” lets us see our landscape and its inhabitants afresh, examining what we have made, what we have destroyed, and what we have become in the process. No one who reads it will look at this country the same way again.

Suzzanne Kelley,

North Dakota State University
“History & Memory in New Zealand’s High County” [cross-listed with New Zealand & Australia Studies]
For nearly two decades, my research partner and I have trekked the high country of Central Otago, learning what we could from the region of the Lindis. Trails have led us through cemeteries and rose gardens, and across the thresholds of legendary figures. We found in our most recent return, however, that the stories are changing, and so are the people who tell them. Beloved characters Max and Madge Snow of the splendid Morven Hills; Ross and Claire Mackay, the bee-keepers; Heather Perriam, with her fine merino yarns; and Willie Wong, with his aged and sweating dynamite in the back shed are gone or deceased. While we work to wrap up our research for our larger project—a scholarly endeavor titled Learning from the Lindis—our subjects of study are in constant transformation. Gone are the hale and hardy who managed the sheep stations. Rising from the dust and rabbit-strewn hills are the wise, who now write memoirs, or the newly-established vintners who transform the history and memories of the Lindis to suit new purposes. This evolution of place, occurring almost faster than we can write, allows us to add another layer of story, discerning the emergence of a wave of collective memory transformed by the old residents and adopted by the new.

Kyle Livie,



California State University, Monterey Bay
“Cultivating Community: Parades, Pageants, and Power in Rural California Towns, 1917-1937”
Collective behavior in rural places has been the topic of considerable study in sociology and history, with attention paid to how claims of distinction in small towns were tied to social, cultural, and demographic change in those communities. Parades, festivals, and pageants are common tools for rural communities to construct shared values and understandings in those places, often steeped in history, culture, and economy in ways that reflect complex hierarchies of power that otherwise are difficult to detect. This paper will explore how parades and pageants can be decoded to develop a deeper understanding of rural places, using two rural communities in California as case studies. In each example, this paper will show how parades were choreographed events that both directed and reflected social and cultural values in those towns in ways that were intended as well as accidental. In Petaluma, California, town leaders marshaled considerable resources to produce a parade celebrating the first national Egg Day in 1917. Attempting to further establish cultural connections between the town and egg production, the parade was designed in a way that could be read easily by spectators even as the town struggled with transitions to the local egg and poultry industries brought by new migrants to the region in the 1910s. In Glendora, California, concerns about the changing racial composition of the countryside encourage white community leaders to use tropes of the Spanish fantasy past to construct the “Golden Get-Together” in May 1937. This celebration featured a town parade that narrated the town’s history in racialized terms and a pageant that turned the town’s history into a romance inspired by popular celebrations of the Ramona pageant in the San Gabriel Valley. The paper will discuss ways that material documenting small town celebrations can be linked to demographic and economic data as well as cultural ephemera produced by small towns.

Peter J. Longo,

University of Nebraska at Kearney
“Understanding Civic and Community Life on the Rural Great Plains through the Actions of Citizens”
The rural Great Plains has brought forth a cast of community-minded citizens. Civic and political contributions, after all, define a place and ultimately can bring about the good life. A brief illustration of Cody, Nebraska, a remote town of less than 200, found in the sparsely populated Sand Hills, illustrates the positive impact of civic behavior in the aggregate. Cody’s town motto is “too tough to die.” A creative team of teachers, students, and citizens proposed (2009) and in due course delivered (2013) on a student-community operated grocery store. This paper will examine the civic contributions in Cody and similar rural communities. Additionally, this paper will analyze the contributions to rural life made by Wilma Mankiller, Junius Groves, Virginia Smith, and George McGovern. These vignettes will demonstrate that rural suitability is found in the positive civic contributions of rural citizens.

Chris McGovern,

Connected Nation, Inc.
Tom Koutsky,

Connected Nation, Inc.


Hongqiang Sun,

Connected Nation, Inc.


“Measuring the Impact of E-Rate Modernization Rules on Rural Schools”
In 2014, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted two orders designed to modernize the Universal Service Fund’s E-Rate program that helps make high-speed Internet service affordable to schools and libraries. These new orders were intended to help ensure affordable broadband access to schools and libraries at speeds that are robust enough to support digital learning, maximize the cost-effectiveness of spending for E-Rate supported purchases, and simplify the process of applying for E-Rate funds. In 2015, schools across the country began submitting applications for E-Rate funds for the first time under these new rules. This paper analyzes differences in E-Rate funding requests across the country, focusing on disparities between urban and rural school districts. In particular, this analysis measures differences between urban and rural schools in terms of their broadband costs, connection speeds, and allocations of Category One funds that help pay for data transmission services, voice service, and Internet access and Category Two support which helps schools afford internal Internet connectivity and maintenance of internal broadband services such as Wi-Fi access. In addition, this study focuses on differences between urban and rural schools in their ability to meet short-term and long-term broadband connection benchmarks as set forth by the FCC. Studies have repeatedly shown that for rural schools, maintaining internal connectivity and upgrading outdated or non-existent Wi-Fi services pose a much larger hurdle to keeping students connected to online educational opportunities. As such, measurements of these funding requests and spending, concomitant with broadband availability mapping, will create a clearer picture of the challenges being faced by rural schools and how a modernized E-Rate service can help reduce the broadband access gap between urban and rural schools. 

Savannah Mitchell,

Western Wyoming Community College
“The Man Behind the Mountain: The Untold Story of Finis Mitchell”
A week after turning 90, on November 23, 1991, Finis Mitchell, along with his wife Emma (Nelson), met their new great-granddaughter, Miranda Mitchell. Fortunately, for the Mitchells, another family member captured this moment on film. A photograph reveals the pride and joy Miranda brought to both her father, Alvin Mitchell, and great-grandfather, as love radiates through the eyes of all present, from Emma in the background to Alvin and Finis in the foreground. Indeed, despite Mitchell’s rough exterior, from his flannel shirt to his worn coveralls to his thick framed glasses, he wears his tenderness and love with pride. Miranda must have felt this love as she appears swaddled in a blanket, none too fussy in the safety of his arms. The smile Mitchell shares with his family is not that of a mountaineer, but of a great-grandfather. Recreated from a photograph this image of Finis Mitchell, reveals the complexity of a Wyoming mountaineer. This was more than a rugged outdoorsman. The man behind the mountain was a husband, father, and grandfather. Family folklore and memories suggests that tender moments, such as the one depicted above, were not rare or uncommon they were just socially or publically unknown. Given that museums, newspapers, and public ceremonies, have largely created the story of Finis Mitchell, it is not surprising that they focused primarily on his public identity, including his work in the Wind River Mountain Range.  Indeed this social memory identifies him as being the Lord of the Winds. Yet, an examination of the family documents, from photographs to oral histories, reveals there is more to his identity, and therefore more to this story.  This new, more complex story arises because the social memory of Finis Mitchell paints him solely as a Wyoming mountaineer and legislator, at the expense of the personal narrative gleaned from family folklore and documents.

José Manuel Núňez Olivera,

Universidad de Guadalajara
Josefina Elizabeth Godínez Chavoya,

Universidad de Guadalajara


“Gestión de la Comercialización del Maíz en la Localidad de San Miguel de la Paz, Municipio de Jamay, Jalisco”
Con el fin de determinar las condiciones actuales llevadas a cabo para la producción y comercialización del maíz entre los productores de la localidad de San Miguel de la Paz (SMP), en el municipio de Jamay, Jalisco, se llevó a cabo este estudio. Es una realidad en esta localidad y en una gran mayoría de localidades no sólo del estado de Jalisco, sino del país en general, que entre el 80 y 90% de los productores de maíz entregan su cosecha a un comprador (sin haberla levantado aún), sin saber de antemano, cuál será el precio que recibirán por su cosecha; sin embargo, la carencia de dinero, sumado a la necesidad de sembrar su tierra y de prepararla adecuadamente en función de la compra de los insumos necesarios, los hace recurrir de manera sistemática a su comprador, para que les dé un adelanto económico (préstamo) que les permita tener los recursos suficientes para poder comprar los insumos necesarios para la siembra. Así, su cosecha (sea cuál sea), ya está comprometida, sin saber a ciencia cierta, cuál será el precio por tonelada que recibirán y por ende, la ganancia económica que percibirán. Los mismos agricultores señalan que la principal problemática que tienen para la siembra del maíz se encuentra en la pobreza crónica que padecen, sumado a la indiferencia de las autoridades gubernamentales por el campo, manifestada en la ausencia de programas suficientes de apoyo y/o subsidios económicos, a lo que se suma el alto costo de los insumos y el bajo precio pagado por el producto cultivado. Es un hecho asimismo que la ausencia de políticas públicas y de capacitación por tipo de productor, tanto en la producción como en la comercialización, ha provocado esta descapitalización crónica que los hace depender económicamente de los intermediarios o compradores de su producto.   

Lisa Payne Ossain,

Des Moines Area Community College
“‘Too Much’ & ‘Too Little’: Rural Iowa after 1933”
“Dairy families lived in this neighborhood thirty years ago,” explains David Faldet about the long-term consequences of New Deal government policies on Iowa’s farmers, “but the pattern and use has changed.  The steady money, from the markets and subsidies of the Farm Security Agency, is no longer in small dairy operations.”  Explaining the irony of that government agency’s title, Faldet continues:  “The money has gone to row crops and the hogs that consume a steady diet of subsidized grain from infancy to slaughter.”  He further details the long term consequences of such a government policy in that a contemporary farmer along the Upper Iowa River with “steeper fields shifted to corn and beans” now harvests 4.5 tons of corn per acre of tilled soil each year, but the loss of topsoil from that intense harvest can be almost ten times that amount in a single growing season.  “The formula,” as Faldet concludes, “does not allow for a long future of farming.” Despite its acreage limitations, the New Deal’s Agricultural Adjustment Agency (AAA) ultimately encouraged an industrial approach to agriculture with its emphasis on row crops and specialized livestock.  To possibly manage agricultural market prices, the federal government directed and limited specific crop acreages and livestock production, but yields still increased due to the newly developing hybrid corn along with scientific animal husbandry.  Still, market prices never rose significantly because American farms continued to overproduce, and thus the financial independence of the family farm subsequently eroded. In September 1939 with Europe’s sudden emergence into the Second World War, Iowa’s farmers found themselves at the forefront of “Food for Freedom,” a national campaign creating the “farm front” by encouraging all-out production with specific crop and livestock specialization along with increased mechanization.  Dramatic, short-term profit resulted from their urgent, global need to feed the United States military and Allies.  The Second World War changed American agriculture in many dramatic and probably permanent ways. The all-out production model during the Second World War and into the post-war era developed rapidly and expanded geometrically.  By the 1970s, as Iowa farmer Bruce Carlson’s explains Iowan’s new approach to the land, only a few farmers had “followed their instincts and never left crop rotations, wind breaks, and the many practices that farming fence-to-fence with lots of chemicals and big equipment seemed to make passe.”  Carlson also questions the turmoil of the state’s later farming generations:  “We speak of tolerable soil loss.  Why do we farm on a limited and depletable medium and speak of its demise as tolerable?”

Lisa Ossian,

Des Moines Area Community College
Anthony Amato,

Southern Minnesota State University


Clarence Herz,

North Dakota State University


Andrea Glessner,

Cowley County Community College


David Mills,

Minnesota West Community & Technical College


“The Eleventh Annual Rural and Agricultural Studies Section Roundtable Book Discussion featuring David Mills’ Cold War in a Cold Land: Fighting Communism on the Northern Plains (University of Oklahoma Press, 2015).”
In this recently published work, historian David Mills provides a regional look at how the American heartland faced the Cold War. Mills analyzes Cold War politics and how farmers and landowners on the northern Great Plains reacted to anticommunist programs. In doing so he examines the roles of religion, economics, and politics and how they provided a base for these programs. This work adds to the growing number of publications focused on regional and northern Great Plains history. This book is geared towards individuals who have an interest in Great Plains History and the Cold War.

Eric Schmaltz,



Northwestern Oklahoma State University
“Coming Full Circle: Twenty-First Century Reflections on the German from Russia Diaspora in North America”
This brief presentation traces and offers some cursory perspectives on the subsequent development of North America’s German from Russia diaspora that had begun in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  Though sometimes underappreciated, Germans from Russia (or German-Russians) have played significant historical roles over the past two and half centuries in connecting different parts of the globe, whether in economic, cultural, or religious terms.  Once predominantly an agricultural people, this immigrant group’s descendants now numbering a few million have become more integrated into the national fabric of Canadian and American life, though since the 1960s and 1970s they have also increasingly participated in the era’s broader ethnic revival phenomenon.  Additionally, with the Cold War’s conclusion, they have either reestablished or strengthened their diaspora, transnational, and family networks abroad.  For the group, the number of academic studies, personal memoirs, oral history endeavors, and family genealogical pastimes have exploded in recent decades, but the dramatic recent appearance of the Internet or “digital commons or village,” DNA genealogy’s tantalizing research frontiers, and archival and investigative resources from once forgotten or previously inaccessible historical records (including Nazi, Soviet, and domestic documents and family heirlooms) only recently coming to light, among other things, has begun to expand the potential of serious studies into a changing diaspora identity and the accompanying transformations in gender, religious, and cultural attitudes among the immigrant descendants.  Significantly, both scholars and ethnic group members can now better reflect upon the course of events during the middle to latter part of the twentieth century, i.e., well beyond the initial immigrant experiences with an emphasis now placed on the memories, stories, and interpretations of later generations.  Adding to the excitement of research possibilities at the dawn of the twenty-first century is a growing sense among many German-Russians worldwide that historical circumstances are somehow now coming “full circle.”  With a degree of anxiety, a handful of thoughtful and farsighted group members have further concluded that it will become more of an imperative not just to preserve history and culture among descendants of Germans from Russia who are increasingly intermarrying with other traditions, but to encourage others outside the ethnic group to learn about and carry on the German-Russian story.  Continuing to build upon their contacts and networks with like-minded organizations, groups, and individuals across the globe, special collections and exhibits at academic and public institutions, sometimes receiving assistance from traditional heritage societies and private entities, will probably assume greater responsibilities and possess more resources and capabilities to help collect, disseminate, and even promote materials on this heritage over the long duration.  The remnants of the German from Russia diaspora will also likely assume an even more pronounced transnational (international or cross-border) character, one that combines academic resources and contemporary trends in technology and information-gathering with its cultural content grounded in a traditional ethnic identity—a sort of new incarnation of an already evolving hybrid entity that currently straddles six continents. Ever wider research opportunities thus await scholars, students, and enthusiasts concerning the unfolding German from Russia narrative.

Heather Steinmann,

Western New Mexico University
“Teaching Ker Hulme’s The Bone People: Emotional Response as Self Instruction” [cross-listed with New Zealand & Australia Studies]
This paper is a final report on a four-year study examining how several groups of students in the U.S. respond to Kari Hulme’s novel The Bone People in an aesthetic, rather than efferent way, experiencing issues involving the colonialism and post-colonialism of the New Zealand Maori. Instead of studying liminal states of gender, race, post-colonialism, violence, and love, in reading literary fiction, students experience what Louise M. Rosenblatt calls aesthetic reading, where “the reader’s attention is centered directly on what he is living through during his relationship with that particular text.” This differs from reading-for-information in that “efferent” reading, reading to take something away from the text, is outcome-centered. When students experience through reading, their empathetic reactions teach them about social issues by allowing them to teach themselves. Rather than returning to the stagnating debate regarding the societal import of literature and its inclusion in or exclusion from university course curriculum, this study uses grounded theory to qualitatively examine students’ affective responses to a novel over a period of four years to describe how the emotional relationship between an author and audience can be located and marked in the transformative moment. Previous results presented at WSSA showed students gravitating to psychological theories to explain the action of the characters; coding results from the last two years indicate students reading through a more personal lens, performing either evaluative or empathetic readings and responses to the literature.

Sharon Stewart,

Des Moines Area Community College
“The Fashionable Evolution of Rural Women”
In the short span of three decades (1910-1939), women in the United States went from full length dresses and skirts to a hemline that played just above the knee.  In the same short time, women entered the work force, and found a place within the world of academia.  In comparing the duality of the fashion presented in the much distributed magazines and newspapers with the pamphlets showcasing the degree offerings of Iowa State’s Home Economics program, a rather stunning story of the women who ploughed the ground for women’s education begins to parallel the quickly shrinking hemline.  Within each decade of fashion, a closer look at Iowa State’s Home Economic program, similarities begin to string the national image of the advertised woman with the local focus of education opportunities for women of Iowa. Prior to the eruption of The Great War, the fashion presented in an array of magazines clearly depicts a woman whose hands rarely, if ever, got dirty.  The large hats that often accompanied the long frilly almost whimsical dresses were in no sense practical.  Quickly fashions changed as America joined the Great War. The United States involvement in The Great War may have only been four years, but the effect of the newly found confidence and ability to survive would prepare the woman of the early 20th century for economic explosion and the Great Depression that soon followed. The 1920s women’s fashion presented a masculine silhouette, boxy in form, yet the textiles very light and feminine.  The advertisements of this era show a far more sophisticated style.  Button blazers and vests are accompanied by a feminine, brimless version of the top hat.  Toward the end of the roaring 20s the market crash, along with other circumstances, led the nation into an economic fall unlike anything previously experienced.  The language of advertisements carried an almost militant tone with such words as headgear, beret, and utility.   Women, often taking the roll of the breadwinner while remaining the homemaker, were now facing a battlefront at home. Within each decade of fashion, a parallel can be drawn in the advertisement of the Iowa State’s Home Economic program.   In 1916, Catharine MacKay, wife of Iowa State’s president, embarked on the task of beginning a Home Economics program for women at Iowa State University.  Through the next two decades the program went from a two week vocational training in home making to a competitive degree with specialties ranging from food science, journalism, and institutional management.  Like the fashion leading up to the 20s, women were beginning to show a little more of themselves.  The Home Economics program of Iowa State University would not only be among the most respected programs, it would offer degrees that placed women alongside men in the ever evolving work force.

Andrea Walters,

Claremont Graduate University
“The Distant and Persistent: The Effect of Rural Living on Poverty”
Rural residents live, by definition, in regions characterized by unoccupied land. Whether rural by choice or by chance, this decreased concentration of people and places can have the unintended consequence of raising the cost of daily life for rural residents. For the rural poor, the increased cost associated with higher travel time and longer distances means that the rural poor pay a premium on daily life that limits their economics opportunities. While both urban and rural households suffer from persistent poverty, U. S. Census Bureau data suggests that rural or ‘nonmetro’ areas have the highest incidence of persistent poverty. The paper is an economic analysis of the effect increased travel distance has on incomes for rural Americans. While there is some literature examining the effect of travel distance on healthcare outcomes, economics literature regarding distance and rural development is thin at best. Correlating travel distance with several measures of wealth and wellbeing allows for a more complete analysis of the practical challenges faced by rural actors, enhancing our understanding of the measurable differences between urban and rural life.

Pei Xu,


California State University Fresno
Todd Lone,

California State University Fresno


Patrick Berends,

California State University Fresno


“Dairy Price Risk Management in California: An Online Teaching Model Approach to the Problem and Issues”
Though the dairy industry in California is an extremely important component of the state’s agriculture, it is faced with significant financial hardships. Since 2000, milk price variation has become a common occurrence when government sponsored milk price supports fell below the market clearing level. Besides this uncertainty in milk price, feed cost instability is another major factor challenging U.S. milk production. Being able to lock in a higher milk price or a lower feed cost through futures and options contracts could greatly contribute to farm profit margins. Our preliminary study conducted in 2015 shows that dairy farmers intended to use futures contracts and the insurance programs to help reduce cost risks and to maintain a price over cost margin. However, farmers were found lack of knowledge about risk management instruments, a primary barrier to the adoption of risk management. In this study agribusiness researchers developed an interactive online teaching course in November 2015, which will be released to California’s dairy farmers. The course is pre-tested with 135 agribusiness college students to gather their opinions about the online learning experience and to identify factors affecting learning attitudes. Discrete choice model results suggest that: 1) senior students who have previously taken an online course tend to rate low for the online learning experience. These students are unwilling to interact with other students in online activities. 2) Female students are found to be less likely to rank high for the online course because they feel the course required more work and more time. And 3) participating students believed the online coursework is more difficult than a face-to-face course. Given the literature offers very little information about farmers’ acceptance of an online course, results from this study are of outmost importance to the adjustment of the existing course. The revised course should focus on the development of interactive course activities to better engage dairy farmers; should provide additional course work help to female participants; should propose appropriate instructive methods to better explain risk management concepts to dairy farmer participants.


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