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Wisconsin’s Top Rural Development Initiatives is an annual recognition program sponsored by Wisconsin Rural Partners, Inc. The program seeks to uncover and share the great things happening in rural Wisconsin through a process of open nomination, review by a panel of judges from diverse backgrounds, and a public awards ceremony. 

In 1998, then-president of WRP Wendy Hinrichs Sanders said, “We want to increase the visibility of these best practices and strengthen the network between communities so they can model after creative projects that have been successful in other areas of the state. Rural communities, especially, can’t afford to keep reinventing the wheel.”

Over the past 25 years, more than 174 initiatives have been recognized and profiled for community leaders to learn from. Nominations consist of a 700-word-or-less essay describing an initiative’s background, innovation, spirit of partnership, impact, and potential use as a model for other rural Wisconsin communities.

What is "rural"?

There are many definitions, but generally an area with a population under 10,000 that is not adjacent to an urban center is considered rural.

What are we looking for?

All types of projects!  Past award winners have been recognized with projects in:

  • ​agriculture
  • community development
  • business
  • education
  • health
  • energy
  • the environment
  • philanthropy
  • tourism
  • community resiliency
What makes a winning nomination?
  • Strong partnerships
  • Collaborative decision‐making
  • Widespread and long‐term positive impact
  • Innovation

2024 TRDI Nominations

Winners will be honored at the Wisconsin Rural Partners Annual Rural Summit in May 15, 2024 in Ashland. 

About us

​Wisconsin Rural Partners, Inc. (WRP) serves as a network hub for organizations, government agencies and people working to make rural Wisconsin a better place. ​​We strive through our work to build leadership for the communities of rural Wisconsin.  ​​

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