A two-day conference on rural development opened this afternoon on the Iowa State University Campus in Ames. I-S-U sociologist Paul Lasley says there is a perception that rural areas have dried up as Iowans flock to the suburbs.Lasley says while rural areas face some difficulties, there are many positive things that they hope to highlight. Lasley says the official definition of “rural” is an area that has less than 25-hundred people.Most of Iowa fits that definition, but what they’re really looking at are communities that are outsides Iowa’s metropolitan areas. Lasley says much of the discussion is centering on improving the quality of life in rural areas.Lasley says the conference features several state and local officials.