The 1980s were a difficult time for family farmers. My own family survived those years, but the structural issues that placed so many families in peril motivated me to pursue graduate studies focused on sustainability and family farming communities. In those years, the Center was a lone voice in advocating for more effective public policies for family farmers and farm communities.
I am a full professor emerita of anthropology at Creighton University, where I taught courses in food studies, sustainability, and environmental anthropology for 20 years. While retired from active teaching, I remain a rural scholar. And, as a cultural anthropologist, I have field experiences in rural Africa, Latin America, and Australia, as well as the American Midwest. These experiences allow me to bring a global perspective to policy and to recognize the global significance of the work done by the Center in rural America.
Prior to teaching, I was a freelance folk and fine artist in Southern California. In my retirement, I moved to Shell Rock, Iowa, where I have had the opportunity to return to my art interests as a folk artist painting community murals.
The time I have lived and worked in rural communities convinces me that these people are well worth the effort and talent the Center devotes to their lives. They are precious because they care about each other and keep the home fires of America burning.
I joined the Board in March 2020 because I wanted to be closer to the action and to contribute to it with insights and knowledge gained from studying rural communities and actively living in one. The Center is the only rural advocacy resource we have. It works on multiple issues at local, regional, state, and national levels.
Barbara serves as secretary to the Board of Directors. Read more about Barbara on our blog.