Staff spotlight: Kjersten Hyberger appreciates and connects to rural America

Small Towns
Farm and Food

Born and raised in rural Oregon, Kjersten Hyberger grew up admiring nature. When her parents moved the family to rural Nebraska in time for her to attend junior and senior high school, she discovered a whole new landscape.

Living next to a fourth-generation Nebraska farm surrounded by corn and soybean fields was an experience that shaped Kjersten’s perspective on how she viewed rural America.

“Growing up spending my time outside, exploring nature, I developed a connection to and appreciation for our natural environment and all that it does for us,” she said.  “Rural Americans are vital to the health and diversity of our state and our country, and they are also the keepers of important generational knowledge and traditions.”

Kjersten’s high regard for rural life and people eventually led her to join the Center for Rural Affairs team as a local foods associate.

Before coming to the Center, Kjersten spent 15 years in the culinary, food service, and hospitality industry, and five years in senior living and memory care. She also worked as a sustainability specialist for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) as well as a human dimensions of natural resources researcher for UNL.

Kjersten recently completed her bachelor’s work at UNL in environmental studies and energy science.

“Being at the Center gives me the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded, energetic people to turn amazing ideas and solutions into reality for rural Nebraskans,” she said. “I also hope to work toward increasing the sustainability of the family farm, and uplifting people and ideas that benefit the marginalized.”

Center Farm and Community Director Sandra Renner feels Kjersten’s background makes her an excellent addition to the staff.

“Kjersten's previous experience fuels her drive to make a difference with her work, and I'm excited to have her join our team with that spirit,” said Sandra. “Her policy and research perspectives have fully armed her with how rural communities are changing and what they are challenged by, but also, what they are capable of. I'm looking forward to her supporting work around regional food business development, environmental justice, and Farm to School.”

Kjersten strives to make a difference through the work she’s doing, and hopes to reach people throughout Nebraska.

“I hope to see a measurable increase in food security and a decrease in food deserts across the state,” Kjersten said “It is my greatest goal to make Nebraska a more equitable and inclusive place for everyone who lives here.”

When she’s not working, Kjersten enjoys spending time with friends and family in nature, paddleboarding, hiking, and foraging. She also offers her time to volunteer in her community.

Reach Kjersten at her office in Lincoln, at 531.335.1838 or