Sevier County

Excel by Eight in Sevier County

The Early Learning Parks project that began in 2021 expanded throughout Sevier County and more than doubled the funding investment originally awarded by Save the Children. Arkansas Community Foundation granted $14,000 to expand the StoryWalk®, install a Born Learning Trail at a second site, and increase access to free books for young children.

Additionally, more than $5,000 in materials and labor has been contributed in-kind by local community organizations and residents. This project provides free recreational and learning resources in easy-to-access public spaces, focused on early learning and development. Read more about what has been done and the project’s impact in the community.

Additionally, local leadership in Sevier County has worked in 2022 to identify strategies in the following priority areas: food security, social-emotional health, and early literacy. Child food security has been a long-term priority for this community, surfacing during data walks in 2019. Other priority areas became apparent during the pandemic.


Located in Southwest Arkansas, bordering the Gulf Coastal Plains

University of Arkansas Cossatot Community College

Quickly growing Latinx and Marshallese population

An abundance of rivers and lakes gave rise to historical fishing and forestry industries

Steering Committee


Janet Cantrell, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service
Mary Runnels, Arkansas Department of Human Services

Committee Members

Erika Buenrrostro, University of Arkansas Cossatot
Cheryl Byrd, DeQueen-Mena Education Service Cooperative
Sherry Dinger, Parkhill Preschool
Deborah Hedge, Sevier County Health Unit
Kimberly Johnson, Little Bitty City Enrichment Center
Kim Kennemore, DeQueen-Mena Education Service Cooperative
Debbi Neal, Horatio City Council
Amy Smith, Horatio School District
Beth Tody, Excel by Eight
Angie Walker, Dr. Randy Walker Family Practice & Allergy Clinic

Read more about E8 Communities

Excel by Eight hosts Spring 2023 Learning Community

Excel by Eight hosts Spring 2023 Learning Community

Excel by Eight hosted its semiannual Learning Community at the end of April, bringing together more than 50 people from its six communities to share network connections, celebrate accomplishments, and discuss resources that can move their local community development plans forward and help children thrive.

Independence County: Building Brains in Preschoolers One Conversation at a Time

Independence County: Building Brains in Preschoolers One Conversation at a Time

Preschools in Independence County have adopted innovative technology to support early brain development. LENA – short for Language ENvironment Analysis – is a professional development opportunity for early childhood educators that uses cloud-based software and a small, wearable device – often referred to as a “talk pedometer” – to measure and increase conversational turns that happen between a child and an adult caregiver.