As the Vice President of Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF) and my goal as the director of domestic affairs to focus on rural parts of Utah I try to participate in as many events, discussions, and general opportunities that will help advance my knowledge in the aforementioned cause. ‘Rural Day on the Hill’ is a special event because it gathered on February 22, 2019 in Salt Lake City individuals who share the mindset of advancing and bolstering rural Utah into one central location, thus allowing for networking, and the sharing of ideas. The event was hosted by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). The agenda included speakers such as Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox, state representatives, and members of GOED. Such an event is rare because many whom are interested in rural affairs live in remote rural locations, thus making gathering difficult if not near impossible.
State Capitol Building on the morning of Rural Day on the Hill
During the day, legislators, staff from federal elected officials’ offices, and other local leaders and experts gathered to have conversations and listen to lecture on the current state of rural Utah and also how rural Utah is declining in some areas (such as population loss) and how it is advancing in some areas (turning away from energy-based economies and towards telecommuting and tourism-based economies). This was particularly special to me as an individual that was raised in a rural community and now lives in an Urban community because much of the focus in both my academic and interpersonal communications has been heavily focused on the concerns and importance of urban Utah, and rarely ever rural Utah. I believe this is because many are wrongfully under the assumption that rural Utah does not play a significant role in the day-to-day lives of Utahns and other citizens in the Western side of the United States. It is because of this belief that I hope to host events in the upcoming future that directly pertain to growing urban Utah’s knowledge about the importance and sustainability of rural Utah.
During Rural Caucus, presenters discussed developments for river rafting as a means for economic development.
Lacee Meyer stands in front of Rural Day on the Hill signage in the rotunda at the Utah State Capitol.
Discussion during the event was exciting, but what is more exciting is knowing that the advancement of rural Utah is starting coming to the forefront of legislation, and policy-making. In order for Utah to succeed, in order for urban Utah to succeed, rural Utah must also succeed. I hope that all Utahns alike can begin or continue to research and read about rural Utah. The better we are as a community of people, rather that sects, the more unstoppable our great state will be. In the near future I see Utah as being a state that many nationally and internationally will look to a frontrunner in creative, intelligent, and researched sustainable development.
Lacee Meyer, Vice President of Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University