The Center for Rural Development recently received the Flag of Learning and Liberty Award from the Kentucky School Public Relations Association (KYSPRA).

KYSPRA presents the Flag of Learning and Liberty Award every year to a person or organization outside of the education field that has made a significant contribution to public education. KYSPRA selected The Center for Rural Development for its impact on education throughout Southern and Eastern Kentucky.

Linda Jones, of the Wayne County School District, and Jeff Phillips, of the Harlan County School District, nominated The Center for the award. It was presented during the annual KYSPRA fall conference.

“The Center serves as an impressive regional hub for education and is a wonderful resource for schools, having served a generation of children,” Jones said.

The Center’s youth programs include Rogers Scholars, Rogers Explorers, and the Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute. These programs focus on children in grades 8-11 and have graduated 3,069 students since 1998.  Curriculum for The Center’s educational initiatives focus on leadership, entrepreneurship, technology, and community service.

“We are honored that the Kentucky School Public Relations Association selected The Center for Rural Development for this award,” said Lonnie Lawson, President and CEO of The Center. “The Center’s youth programs began more than 20 years ago. Since then, we have made it our mission to provide intensive-educational and leadership programs for students throughout Southern and Eastern Kentucky.”

KYSPRA held its fall conference at the Hyatt Regency in Lexington, KY. Others honored during the conference include the Kentucky Department of Education and Paul Schaumburg, of the Graves County School District. Kentucky Commissioner of Education Dr. Wayne D. Lewis served as the guest speaker.

For more information on The Center for Rural Development, visit or call 606-677-6000.

Established in 1996 through the vision of U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers, (KY-05), and other leaders, The Center for Rural Development is a nonprofit organization fueled by a mission to provide leadership that stimulates innovative and sustainable economic development solutions and a better way of life in Southern and Eastern Kentucky. In its 45-county primary service region, The Center provides innovative programs in leadership, public safety, technology, and arts and culture. The Center is committed to constantly expanding its capabilities in order to deliver a range of key services throughout Kentucky and the nation.

The Kentucky School Public Relations Association (KYSPRA) presented The Center for Rural Development with the Flag of Learning and Liberty Award at its annual fall conference. From Left, Brent Roark, Superintendent in the Harlan County School District; Linda Jones, Wayne County Public Relations Coordinator; Allison Cross, Community Liaison and Youth Programs Coordinator at The Center for Rural Development; Roxanna Bishop, Pulaski County Community Education Director; Molly Barnett, Laurel County Community Education Information Officer; and Jeff Phillips, Harlan County Public Relations/Community Education Director.