Board spotlight: Jane Yule pays attention to policy that affects rural America

Small Towns

Rural America is in Jane Yule’s blood. For decades, her family has settled in small towns around Nebraska, and there’s no place she’d rather live.

Jane is a fifth-generation Nebraskan on her mother’s side, and her father’s family came to Iowa in the late 1800s. Additionally, since her husband’s family always farmed, the couple decided to raise their children on a farm in rural northeast Nebraska.

She encountered the Center for Rural Affairs in the 1970s, and after attending a Center-organized tour of family farms in eastern Nebraska, she knew the organization was one she wanted to watch.

Jane followed the Center’s efforts, paying close attention to the work it was doing on legislation to keep corporate farming out of Nebraska. Then, at the same time she was serving on a local school board, the Center was focusing some of its work on the survival of rural schools.

“The Center’s work reminds us of the value of rural communities,” Jane said. “The expertise at the Center is extraordinary. It’s good to know there is someone watching out for rural Nebraska.”

Her love of rural America and continued interest in the Center’s work led Jane to take an active role in the organization, and she joined the Center’s Board of Directors in 2020.

Over the years, Jane has worked in different areas of the medical field as a nurse practitioner, including positions in home health care, care centers, hospitals, as a traveling nurse, EMT, and more. She planned to retire when her husband retired from farming, but ended up working for her local health department during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was exposed to a whole range of the challenges that individuals, families, and communities face,” Jane said. “Which are really a lot of the same things people in larger cities face, too. It’s just that sometimes the solutions for rural areas are different from big-city solutions.”

After working through the pandemic, Jane took a part-time position as the school nurse in Creighton, Nebraska, when she and her husband moved off their farm in the Lindy area of Knox County.

“I have a lifelong interest in issues affecting public schools,” Jane said. “My mom and grandmother were elementary teachers, so I’m very aware of the time and hard work that a good teacher commits to. Now, as a school nurse, I see that every day.”

Jane and her husband still manage about 60 acres of wildlife and pollinator habitat. Jane reports on milkweed and monarch butterfly status on those acres through a Citizen Science project. She’s also involved in another Citizen Science project through the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission that surveys monarchs and other butterflies in eastern Nebraska.

Jane tries to find ways to apply everything she does to her work on the Center’s Board of Directors. She said attending board meetings has been a great way to stay up-to-date about what contributes to a well-functioning board and learning about how nonprofits work.

“Overall, my priorities are the environment, policies supporting family farms, public school issues, and public health,” she said. “I care about policy issues that affect the rural Midwest, as well as support small businesses in rural areas.”

Jane hopes to see the Center’s mission touch the lives of rural Americans long into the future.

“I am impressed with the Center's high quality of work, and I hope the Center and Board will continue to be responsive to changing needs of the rural Midwest and inevitable challenges that will arise,” she said.

In her free time, Jane and her husband like to watch foreign mysteries. They do backyard bird watching and travel the backroads together, usually in Nebraska. Jane also enjoys swimming, walking, and playing games with her grandchildren.