Staff spotlight: Bobbi Howard shares Center's passion for supporting rural America

Farm and Food

Rural communities have been part of Bobbi Howard’s life for as long as she can remember.

She grew up visiting grandparents, aunts, and uncles who all settled in small towns and spent her childhood in a rural area. With such a rich rural history, it seems fitting that Bobbi now dedicates her time to advocating for small communities.

She was hired recently by the Center for Rural Affairs as Farm & Community director. Bobbi  comes from a background in workforce development and previously was an administrator at the Nebraska Department of Labor, where she supervised field offices across the state. She also has experience working with nonprofit organizations.

Center Chief People Officer Sandra Renner says all this and more makes Bobbi the right fit to lead the Farm & Community team.

“Bobbi shares the Center's passion for rural people, access to resources, and equity,” said Sandra. “She brings insights about workforce needs and the skills people require to achieve their goals, as well as barriers rural people face in accessing and understanding the resources available. Her ability to weave those themes into her team's work in rural communities across Nebraska and southwest Iowa makes her an excellent addition to the Center.”

Bobbi had been part of operations in urban areas where there were several partners with very similar funding and objectives that resulted in the duplication of services. Many resources aren’t available in rural America, she said, and that makes the work the Center does so vital.

“Supporting rural America is so important to a strong economy,” she said. “So much of our food and resources come from rural communities. These towns produce resilient leaders who know how to get the job done with very little means.”

She’s enthusiastic about getting out into rural communities and seeing the Center’s efforts firsthand.

“We work to support communities to ensure they have the schools, resources, infrastructure, and an environment that attracts young families to keep these towns thriving,” said Bobbi. “The team is already doing such great things. I hope to help further that work and expand our focus as appropriate to ensure our efforts have the greatest impact.”

In her free time, Bobbi loves to work in her garden. She’s also a Scout mom and has volunteered with her oldest son's troop and now volunteers with her younger son and daughter’s pack. Bobbi cheered on her oldest son when he was in soccer and football, and now enjoys seeing her younger children starting to explore their own interests in sports, dance, and other activities.

Bobbi lives in Synder, Nebraska, and is based out of the Center’s main office in Lyons. Reach her at 402.687.2100, ext. 1014, or