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Passion for Rural Alberta Celebrated at Big Sky Summit

World-renowned speakers join Alberta community leaders to discuss big ideas to help rural communities flourish

Edmonton, AB – The passion, innovation and ingenuity that personifies rural Alberta will converge in Edmonton on April 4 at the Shaw Conference Centre for the Big Sky Summit. Hosted by the Rural Alberta Development Fund, or RADF, the Summit brings together more than 400 of Alberta’s most dedicated community leaders to share how their own Big Sky ideas changed the face of their communities.

“We have so much incredible talent throughout Alberta,” said Jann Beeston, Board Chair, Rural Alberta Development Fund. “The tenacity and drive that comes out of our rural communities is commendable. We’re thrilled to be putting the spotlight on these rural Alberta leaders and the successes that their determination has brought to fruition.”

Launching the Small Town, Big Sky series, a video case study of Warner Hockey School will be showcased. Leaders from other successful RADF funded projects throughout Alberta, including Canadian Badlands Tourism Development Group, Jr. Achievement Rural Expansion and the U of A School of Business’ Creating Pathways for Entrepreneurial Families, will also share how they went from idea to action and the impact their projects are having on their communities.

The day will also include two internationally renowned speakers, Bill Strickland, a remarkable and distinguished social architect, and Eric Saperston, an inspired individual who spent his post-college life driving across America and meeting with the greatest minds on the continent. Summit attendees will also be treated to presentations by Canadian poet, Shane Koyczan, who many will remember from the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics and Alberta author and rural advocate Doug Griffiths.

With support from the Rural Alberta Development Fund, more than 70 community-driven projects have taken off and are positively impacting communities by helping them be more sustainable, vibrant and successful. The Big Sky Summit is an opportunity for leaders to share their stories and their drive with fellow Albertans, while soaking up motivation from these celebrated speakers. The Big Sky Summit will spark creativity and excitement towards the limitless possibilities of what another $100 million could do for Alberta communities. More information is available at www.bigskysummit.com

Rural Alberta Development Fund is a not-for-profit company that inspires innovation, collaboration and growth across rural Alberta. In 2007, it was capitalized with $100 million by the Government of Alberta as part of its rural development strategy. So far, $77.5 million has been committed to 71 projects. Applications are now being accepted for the remaining $22.5 million, which must be committed by March 31, 2012.


Backgrounder: Big Sky Summit Agenda, Speaker Biographies

For more information, contact:
Courtney Mosentine
Director of Communications
Rural Alberta Development Fund
780.436.9585 office
780.399.7336 cell
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Big Sky Summit Agenda

Registration and Breakfast
8:45- 9:00
Shane Koyczan Rise and Shine
Doug Griffths 13 Ways to Kill a Community
9:45-10:00 Warner Hockey School Presentation and video
Shane Koyczan This is My Voice
10:30-Noon Eric Saperston Be Youself. Everyone Else is Taken
Noon-1:00 Lunch
Shane Koyczan
1:15-2:00 Successful RADF Funded Projects Jr. Achievement Rural Expansion,
Creating Pathways for Entrepreneurial Families, Canadian Badlands
Tourism Development Program 
Bill Strickland The Art of Leadership and the Business of Social Change
Closing Remarks “What Could We Be?”
Shane Koyczan We Are more

Speaker Biographies

Bill Strickland's journey from at-risk youth to 1996 MacArthur "genius" grant recipient is a remarkable accomplishment. Now, Bill is sharing what he’s learned to help communities initiate social change with education, training, and hope. He is a firm believer in innovation, creativity, responsibility and integrity. Bill is the president and CEO of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation, an organization that has evolved into a national model for education, culture and hope in the United States.

Eric Saperston spent his after-college life travelling across North America, meeting amazing individuals along the way. Throughout his journey Eric soaked in wisdom from the greatest minds on the continent and created some great stories of his own. Everything he did was in pursuit of his own personal growth and understanding.  Eric believes that the individual has the power to make a difference, and he is unwilling to let anyone accept anything less than an extraordinary life.

Shane Koyzcan is a Canadian slam poet who inspired the world with his performance during the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics. In 2000, he became the first Canadian to win the Individual Championship title at the US National Poetry Slam. Powerfully engaging and authentic in attitude, Shane emerges in a new wave of 21st century poetry that dares to belong to the people and speak directly to them in their own voice. With his rhythmic verse in high gear, Shane navigates his audience through social and political territory with a furious honesty and a tender humanity that has brought audiences to their feet around the world. Shane is truly an extraordinary talent that has blown the dust off of the designation “poet”.

Doug Griffiths has a passionate interest in promoting the well-being of Canada's prairie communities. He's visited most of the communities in this province, and began presenting to groups his take on community sustainability and success: "13 Ways to Kill Your Community", which was transformed into a book. Doug’s presentation is an entertaining and enlightening summary of eight years of experience gained while visiting towns from one end of the province to the other.