Gathering celebrates International Women’s Day

Small Towns
Farm and Food

Now is the time to celebrate all the powerful women the Center for Rural Affairs works with and all the efforts led by women in rural communities.

The Center is committed to supporting and helping women reach their full potential through education, training, support, encouragement, and peer learning. In addition, our organization supports women farmers at all levels of expertise to improve the stewardship of their land and reach their personal business goals.

For International Women’s Day, we invited women involved in food security and leadership roles to an informal gathering.

“Empowered women empower women,” said Cait Caughey, senior beginning farmer and market associate at the Center. “It was very impactful hearing how the panelists take care of themselves to be their best selves so they can give so much to the community. Women often forget to do that with all they have to juggle and it's incredibly important. It was nice to have this time and space to remember to do this.”

The event was held at the No More Empty Pots greenhouse and facility in Omaha on March 7 and included a tour and a talk with a panel of four women.

The panel, moderated by Cait, included:

  • Lestina Saul-Merdassi: Youth Program Director at Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition, and Dakota speaker. She has made big strides to raise awareness about Indigenous Missing and Murdered individuals as well as promoting sobriety.
  • Mo Bailey: Lead organizer for Nebraska Organizing Project, president of the Norfolk Area Pride, and spiritual director, coach and public speaker. She believes in the power of story to connect, heal, and inspire people. She deeply values creating safe spaces where all people feel worthy and that they belong. 
  • Nancy Williams: a founder and past president/CEO of No More Empty Pots. She serves on the Center's Advisory Committee and has been recognized as a leader in local foods systems and urban agriculture in Omaha.

Food was provided by Milkweed Kitchen, which is woman owned and locally sourced.

Feature photo: Attendees of the event, including Center for Rural Affairs staff. All toured No More Empty Pots’ science center, commercial kitchen, food distribution hub, greenhouse, and retail space.  |  Photos by Kylie Kai

International Women's Day

Click on a photo to take a closer look, and use the arrows to scroll through.

Photo 1: Panelists Lestina, Mo, and Nancy shared their journeys and what has kept them motivated to give so much of themselves and their work to the community.

Photo 2: Jasmine Currie, No More Empty Pots hospitality coordinator, talked about the services offered to the community through No More Empty Pots, including the Culinary Certificate Program, garden education, and community nutrition. Since 2010, the organization’s programs and partnerships have addressed food security, education, and economic opportunity with a systems approach to solutions so there will be “no more empty pots.” 

Photo 3: Heather Bowman, community education assistant, led a tour of the No More Empty Pots greenhouse. She explained the process of growing microgreens. Other food for the community is provided by local farmers in an effort called “community harvest.”

Photo 4: LaVonne Snake of Winnebago (center) chats with Center staffers Miranda Roberts  (left) and Angelina Magerl (right).

Photo 5: From left, Lestina, Meg Jackson of the Center for Rural Affairs, and Mo. Attendees were given time to network and encouraged to relax and enjoy the company of old and new friends.

Photo 6: The youngest woman at the event, Freya, was accompanied by her mom, Erin Schoenberg, of the Center for Rural Affairs (right). Entertainment provided by Meg.