Chuck and Barb Francis, of Lincoln, Neb., received the Center for Rural Affairs’ 2016 Seventh Generation Award at an awards ceremony on March 10 in York, Neb.
The Seventh Generation Award is a lifetime service award presented to an individual or individuals who have made major contributions in improving rural life and protecting our land and water. Awardees generally have touched more than one area of the Center’s work.
“Chuck and Barb are longtime friends of the Center, having supported multiple areas of our work through both their personal and professional affiliations and as advocates for a more sustainable rural future,” said Brian Depew, Center for Rural Affairs executive director.
Chuck is an agronomist on the faculty of the University of Nebraska. He also teaches agroecology for Norwegian University of Life Sciences. Several Center staff have taken Chuck’s classes at the University of Nebraska. Barb is a Spanish teacher at Montessori School for Young Children, active in Wachiska Audubon Chapter, a long-term supporter of local food and farmers, concerned about water conservation and recycling, and has worked with refugees in Nebraska.
“Chuck has partnered with the Center on a number of projects, often providing an important university partnership that makes projects come together,” Depew said.
Kathie Starkweather, Farm and Community Program director, said that Chuck has also helped with grant opportunities.
“Chuck has been just wonderful to work with throughout the years,” Starkweather said. “He provides advice and guidance and he has been the behind the scenes guy for a lot of our projects. We’re lucky and I just can’t thank you enough.”
Jordan Rasmussen, policy associate, said Chuck is the reason she is at the Center.
“Last year, I had the opportunity to take Dr. Francis’ organization of the lands class, and it reminded me how proud I was to be a rural Nebraskan,” Rasmussen said. “That’s history now, and I’m here. Thank you, Dr. Francis.”
While the Center’s work focuses domestically, Chuck and Barb’s vision knows no such bounds. Their work and volunteer efforts have touched people in Colombia, the Philippines and Norway, where Barb has worked with asylum seekers.
“Barbara would also agree that I rarely say no,” Chuck said. “I really appreciate the chance to work with the Center. I hope to continue doing that for a long time. I’m not done yet.”
They are longtime supporters of the Center for Rural Affairs.