The 61st annual Rural Life Conference will feature a director from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a featured speaker and the founder of a technology institute as the luncheon speaker.

The conference begin with registration at 7:30 a.m. Friday, March 3, at the Pine Bluff Convention Center. The event is sponsored by the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences.

The opening session begins at 8:45 a.m. where S.A. Haley Memorial Lecture will be presented by Caroline E. Crocoll, director of the Division of Family and Consumer Sciences at the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Jack B. Crumbly Sr., founder of STRIVE Institute of Technology, will be the luncheon speaker at 12:45 p.m.

According to a press release, Crocoll is is responsible for leadership of the division’s Community Vitality and Family Well-Being research, education and Extension portfolio in partnership with the land-grant university system across the nation. She and her staff oversee hundreds of studies and she provides leadership for federal capacity and competitive funds.

She has a doctorate in adult education and human resource development from Virginia Commonwealth University, a master’s degree in counseling and human development from Long Island University and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the State University of New York at Albany.

Crumbly is the leader of STRIVE Institute of Technology, a regional alternative learning high school at Marianna. STRIVE (Special Training Remediate Instruction and Vocational Education) serves Lee, Monroe, Phillips and St. Francis counties. Crumbly taught in the Arkansas Delta for more than 40 years. He also served as superintendent of the Earle School District. Crumbly served as Arkansas state senator from District 16 for six years.

An alumnus and Hall of Fame honoree of UAPB, Crumbly graduated with a double major in agriculture and biology. He received a master’s degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and administrative certification from Arkansas State University at Jonesboro.

Attendees can select from a variety of workshops. Exhibits and posters will be part of the conference.

Preregistration is requested even though the conference is free to farmers, retirees and homemakers. The cost to professionals and agency personnel is $50, after Feb. 20 and onsite, it will be $75. To preregister, contact Tamara Ford at 870-575-8806 or