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January/February 2015

Inside This Issue:

Center Announces 2015 Research Projects
Faculty from the State System of Higher Education universities and regional campuses of the University of Pittsburgh will kick off their respective studies this month as part of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania’s 2015 Research Grant Program. 

In December 2014, the Center’s Board of Directors approved seven research projects for the 2015 program. The projects focus on a variety of topics including secondary school career guidance services, domestic violence services, and Act 13 spending by municipalities and counties.

Senator Gene Yaw, the Center’s board chairman, says the research projects will offer the General Assembly, school districts, local governments, and community organizations information that can support policy and programming decisions.

“In collaboration with our university faculty partners, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania will investigate issues relevant to Pennsylvania,” Sen. Yaw said. “The findings from this research, along with the results from past research and the Center’s rich database, will continue to provide policy and decision makers with information on matters that affect rural Pennsylvania and its nearly 3.5 million rural residents.”

Following is a summary of the 2015 research projects.

A Comparison of Rural and Urban Secondary School Career Guidance Services
Dr. Cheryl Neale-McFall of West Chester University of Pennsylvania will assess and compare rural and urban school career guidance services related to post-secondary career planning in grades 7 to 12 throughout Pennsylvania.

The research will include an analysis of resources available to districts and school counselors, and will include a special focus on science, technology, engineering, and math course selection.

Exploring Health Care Alliances in Rural Pennsylvania
Dr. Chad M. Kimmel of Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania will examine the formation of health care alliances in rural Pennsylvania, their effect on rural community health care capacity, and, the potential of these alliances to better meet the needs of rural communities, while remaining aware and respectful of traditional methods of health care provision valued by the residents of these communities.

Domestic Violence Cases in Rural Pennsylvania Magisterial Courts: Practices, Effectiveness and Consequences for the Victims
Dr. Gabriela Wasileski of Indiana University of Pennsylvania will investigate the practices of Magisterial Court judges regarding domestic violence in rural Pennsylvania.

The research will examine domestic violence cases and barriers that judges face in processing such cases and adequately responding to victims.  The research will develop possible suggestions for victims’ services and the criminal justice system.

Analysis of Domestic Violence Services in Rural Pennsylvania
Dr. Gayatri Devi of Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania will analyze domestic violence services. Dr. Devi and a team of researchers will examine the challenges faced by both domestic violence service providers and their clients in rural areas.

The team will use both quantitative and qualitative analyses of existing secondary data on shelter/client/region-community characteristics and statistics, and primary data from surveys, interviews and focus groups with domestic violence shelters and appropriate partners, to clarify the needs and challenges affecting the funding, staffing, advocacy, outreach, and other victim assistance services for rural Pennsylvania domestic violence service providers and their clients.

Analysis of Act 13 Spending by Municipalities and Counties in Pennsylvania
Dr. Shailendra N. Gajanan of the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford will examine Act 13 disbursements and existing data to determine spending patterns and procedures among municipalities and counties.

The project will track the impact of Act 13 funds on county and municipal budgets based on historical trends and allocation patterns.

Analysis of 2012 Census of Agriculture Data
Dr. Sunita Mondal of Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania will use Census of Agriculture data to conduct quantitative and qualitative analyses of farmers and farm operations in Pennsylvania.

The research will examine farmers’ characteristics based on demographics, farm ownership and farming practices, and identify and analyze changes in farming operations, farm profitability, and labor.

Economic Outlook for Rural Pennsylvania over the Next 10 Years
Todd Behr of East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania will analyze available databases from state and federal sources to identify key economic and demographic trends in income, employment, industry growth and more in rural and urban Pennsylvania counties.

Mr. Behr and his team of researchers will extrapolate the future direction of the economy over the coming years.

Gearing Up for the 2016 Program
As this year’s grantees begin their projects, the board is identifying topics for the 2016 Research Grant Program. The grant topics will address relevant issues impacting Pennsylvania’s rural residents.

After the topics have been identified, the Center will issue its Request for Proposals (RFP).

The Center’s research program is only available to faculty at the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education universities, Pennsylvania State University, and the regional campuses of the University of Pittsburgh. However, the Center encourages cooperation and collaboration between these faculty and other public or private organizations.

For a copy of the 2016 RFP or more information about the Research Grant Program, call the Center at (717) 787-9555 or visit


Chairman’s Message
As we welcome in the New Year, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania is kicking off its annual cycle of research projects. Over the years, the Center’s research has reflected the diversity and complexity of rural Pennsylvania and the changing needs of and opportunities for its residents, which today total nearly 3.5 million. We have the nation’s third largest rural population and a rural landscape that encompasses about 75 percent of our state’s land mass, so it’s important to keep issues that affect our rural communities in the forefront of discussions and decisions that are made at the local, state and national level.

The Center’s research program has brought important information to policy makers in state government, provided practical tools and information leading to better decision-making at the local level, and raised awareness about rural Pennsylvania at the national level.

In 2014, the Center published research on a host of topics, including population projections, rural prisoner reentry challenges, the financial needs of students pursuing post-secondary education, the enrollment trends and financial impacts of charter schools, municipal pensions, cancer incidence and mortality rates, and Marcellus Shale.

This year, our research will focus on a variety of other issues, which are highlighted on Pages 1 and 3. As always, we’re pleased to be working with our university partners to explore these issues, and know that their work will yield important information.

This month, the Center’s Board of Directors will also be identifying potential research topics for the Center’s 2016 grant cycle. Topics are developed through each board member’s working knowledge of rural Pennsylvania, prior research findings, and ideas from state and federal agencies, state and local organizations, academia, and any number of other sources that know rural Pennsylvania. The board will review these potential topics at its first board meeting, and announce the topics through the Request for Proposals, which is typically issued in March.

As the year progresses, we will continue sharing the results of our research and information from our database – which is the largest rural database statewide – with you.

On behalf of the board and staff, I wish you all the best in the New Year.

Senator Gene Yaw


Rural Snapshot: Top Farm Commodity Groups of Pennsylvania Counties

The dollar amounts shown in the map below represent each county’s total value of sales of agricultural products in 2012. Below the dollar amounts are each county’s top commodity group according to the highest value of sales in that county. Counties shaded in green are rural and those in white are urban.

$7,400,781,000 = Total value of sales for Pennsylvania, 2012.

Top Farm Commodity Groups of Pennsylvania Counties, 2012 - (Download PDF)
Top Farm Commodity Groups of Pennsylvania Counties, 2012

Note: “Data Not Available” was applied to counties where 50 percent or more of the commodity values are withheld to avoid disclosing data for individual farms. Data source: 2012 Census of Agriculture. USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service.
The top five commodity groups for Pennsylvania are:

The commodity groups are:


Born Leaders: Birth Counties of Pennsylvania’s Governors

Here’s a look at the birth counties of Pennsylvania’s governors. Since 1790, Pennsylvania has had 47 governors and all but seven were born in the commonwealth.

Pennsylvania Governors’ Birth Counties, 1790 to 2015
Pennsylvania Governors’ Birth Counties, 1790 to 2015
Data source: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.


Did You Know . . . January is Farm Show Time

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.


Just the Facts: Home Heating Sources