Staff spotlight: Cait Caughey brings her love of the land to the Center

Small Towns

Timing is everything for Cait Caughey.

A long-time supporter of the Center for Rural Affairs, Cait always hoped to become part of the organization, though she wasn’t sure in what capacity.

After gaining a decade of nonprofit experience as well as several years of agriculture education teaching for schools, colleges, and adults, Cait’s wish has come true.

She was recently hired as a beginning farmer and market specialist for the Center, and focuses on the organization’s educational opportunities, training, and market development for aspiring, beginning, and emerging farmers in eastern Nebraska.

“I wanted to join the Center team for years, and finally a position opened up that I felt suited my experiences and skill set,” said Cait. “I look forward to being part of a positive and supportive working environment that focuses on the health and vibrancy of rural communities and, even more specifically, supporting our farmers and food system development.”

Cait has farmed for about 10 years in various forms including both urban and rural operations. She’s also developed farm to school curricula and programs, trained farm staff and interns, started her own farm business, and supported former refugee and new American farmers gain access to land and education.

Since 2011, Cait worked in the nonprofit sector, specifically around food systems. Currently, she is a tenant farmer working collaboratively with a woman landowner on various production and conservation projects in the Loess Hills.

She hopes to use the knowledge she’s acquired over the years to bring energy and experience to her role with the Center.

“I am excited to work with a team of caring and passionate individuals that center equity in their work,” Cait said. “I love meeting new people, traveling to new rural communities, and doing whatever I can to help farmers get into the field (literally and figuratively!) and actualize their land tending goals and aspirations. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here.”

Through her role, she hopes to build relationships and encourage, support, and increase access on multiple levels for young, women, veteran, immigrant, new American, and BIPOC emerging farmers.

“At the core of my work is the importance of centering farmers’ own visions and ideas for resiliency and food sovereignty,” Cait said.

She’s lived in rural southwest Iowa for seven growing seasons, and is glad to see her work and life come together through a common passion.

“I love rural life; being in a relationship with and belonging to the land,” said Cait. “Tending land is an important practice for me and influences all aspects of my life. I believe in the potential of diverse, thriving small communities built on relationship and reciprocity.”

Outside of work, Cait enjoys hiking in the prairie, seed saving, music, and most of all being a mother to her two kids, Catalpa and Mira.

Cait works from her home office outside Mondamin, Iowa, and can be reached at caitc@cfra.org or 402.380.5192.