Leaders come together for Regional Roundtable in Elkader


Leaders from across Northeast Iowa gathered at Osborne Nature Center in Elkader this spring for the Regional Roundtable, a twice-yearly opportunity to build relationships across county lines, gain knowledge and learn about resources that can improve quality of life for rural residents.

In April, the event highlighted the impact of investing in outdoor assets. The keynote was presented by Aaron Detter, senior transportation planner at Upper Explorerland Regional Planning. Detter shared the findings of a recent study on the economic impact of trails and the financial return on investments in outdoor assets.

A group of panelists discussed the ways they've leveraged existing local assets to create unique outdoor experiences, such as gravel bike races, horse trails and urban trails, and access to waterways. 

Panelists were:

  • Mat Fassbinder, organizer of The Driftless 100
  • Shawnna Larison and Tina Nieland with the Whistlin’ Bit Saddle Club
  • Elise Bergan, director of the Edgewood Chamber of Commerce
  • Mallory Hanson, regional economic development and tourism coordinator for Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation & Development

“The overwhelming message we heard from our panelist discussion about outdoor opportunities was about the importance of partnership — from communities within our region and from others,” says Rachelle Howe. “The more creative we can be, the better!”

Howe joined a team from the Allamakee County Community Foundation, one of eight affiliates of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, which hosts the event for leaders across its service region of Allamakee, Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque, Jackson, Jones and Clinton Counties. 

After exploring Osborne, the group traveled to Motor Mill Historic site to learn about how the volunteer-driven organization leveraged the power of endowment to secure permanent, annual funding for today’s projects and tomorrow’s challenges.

The mission of the Roundtable, launched in 2018, is to convene a diverse group of leaders from the region to learn about the strengths and needs of rural communities and connect leaders to the information and financial resources needed to make our region more vibrant and welcoming. Gatherings focus on shared concerns like building strong workforces and local economies, attracting and retaining young families, and being welcoming to newcomers. 

Each gathering includes time for consideration of local relevancy, discussing options for addressing local needs, and networking among various groups. Topics are determined by regular feedback from group members and all are tied to community vitality. 

To learn more about your local community foundation and its partners, visit dbqfoundation.org