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WeCAN Peer Learning Network Gatherings

Join rural leaders and experts for periodic, hour-long virtual gatherings to share insights into timely and relevant topics and plan for Solutions Roundtables and other PLN events. The three-state PLN meeting happens on the 2nd Wednesday of the month at 10am Pacific /11am Mountain time — or other times as needed.

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Past and Future Sessions


May 2024

Rural Mental Health: Engaging Youth and Communities

Brenda Richey (MT State University - Flathead Reservation Tribal Extension Program) will kick off an exchange about mentoring and other ways to engage youth to build a stronger sense of belonging and support at school and within the broader community. 

5/8/24 • 10-11 PT/11-12 MT


June 2024

The rural mental health conversation continues with Gracia María Puerto Hernández (Washington State University Skagit County Extension) will join us to kick off a conversation about "farm stress" and ways of working with agricultural producers, their families, and communities.

6/12/24 • 10-11 PT/11-12 MT


April 2024 (recording of Maret and Jack's presentation here, COMET overview here, and upcoming virtual trainings here)

How to Support Friends and Neighbors Before a Mental Health Crisis. Maret Felzien and Jack Westfall, co-creators of the COMET (Changing Our Mental and Emotional Trajectory) rural community training, kicked off an exchange about how to personally support friends and neighbors when we are concerned about their well-being. 


March 2024 (recording of Chuck's presentation here)

Rural Mental Health Resilience. Chuck Strand from Rural Minds shared information and resources about the Rural Mental Health Resilience Program, a partnership between Rural Minds and the National Grange. 


February 2024

Mental Health Solutions Roundtable "After Party." The conversation continued from the Feb. 8 roundtable, focusing on community events and mental health fairs. We drilled more deeply into the Silver Valley (ID) community mental health and back-to-school fair that Paige Olsen introduced during the Solutions Roundtable.


January 2024 (recording and resource links below)

Supporting Local and Regional Food Systems and Businesses. Colette DePhelps (University of Idaho Extension) gave us an overview of the new Northwest and Rocky Mountains Regional Food Business Center. This is a USDA-funded initiative to support a more resilient, competitive and diverse food system. We learned about opportunities for support for local ag and food businesses and food system projects, and opened it up to a broader conversation about local and regional food systems.

See the recordingDownload the slidesDownload the NWRM Regional Food Business Center flyer

December 2023 

Community-Led Projects: How to Help One Thing Lead to Another. 

Vaughn Zenko (Baker, MT) talked about how the Baker Arts & Culture Council grew out of small steps and a $500 minigrant. Lorie Higgins reviewed the Ripple Effects Map that came out of a recent session in Troy, MT, which focused on what the community has accomplished since its Community Review in 2020. Afterward, we talked as a group about how to foster momentum and positive ripple effects in community projects and toward community goals.

October 2023

RAIN Catalysts CEO, Caroline Cummings, talked about how to support entrepreneurship in rural communities. RAIN Catalysts is a global nonprofit that focuses on engaging entrepreneurs as leaders in building inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems and innovation economies. Caroline shared some underpinnings of how RAIN works to help us think about how to support entrepreneurship in our own places. She also offered resources, including the book Startup Communities by Brad Feld (search online for a free PDF version) and an adaptation of the Lean Canvas business planning tool for community projects, along with an accompanying video overview of how to use it.

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