Meg Jackson lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, but she will always consider the Sandhills her true home.
Her rural upbringing made Meg passionate about rural communities from a young age. So, when she learned about the Center for Rural Affairs’ mission, she began following its work.
“The Center’s intentional values for rural communities deepened the pride I have for being raised rural, so it was just a matter of time before I found myself working here,” Meg said.
Meg was hired recently as a local foods associate. She spends most of her time working on the Center’s newest lending initiative: Meat and Poultry Processing Loans, made possible by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program grant.
“I am hugely (and maybe oddly) passionate about local meat processing, having worked for a season on a mobile poultry processing line with a small farm, butchering hogs, and processing wild game with my dad,” said Meg. “At one point, I had a desire to start my own small-scale ‘pasture to plate’ meat locker, so when the opportunity came up to work on the meat lending program, I was thrilled with the possibility of seeing that dream come true through others.”
In her role with the Center, she aims to be a go-to resource and expert for all things meat processing.
“My goal is to not only be a helpful guide through the financing process but to also offer deep knowledge in the regulatory and business planning process for expanding, improving, and starting a new facility,” Meg said.
She spends her days meeting local meat processors throughout Nebraska and the Midwest and touring their facilities, as well as working alongside Center staff.
“We have so much expertise, enthusiasm for our work, and a collaborative mindset on staff that it strengthens our work together, and makes it more fun,” Meg said.
With 15 years of experience working in local food, agriculture, sustainability, and civic engagement, mostly in the nonprofit field, Meg brings a wealth of knowledge to her position.
Wyatt Fraas, Farm and Community assistant director with the Center, says the organization is proud to have her on the team.
“Meg brings invaluable experience from leadership positions at several organizations where she developed and ran many food system programs,” Wyatt said. “She is both methodical and enthusiastic, which greatly benefits the launch of our new meat processing loan program. Her connections throughout Nebraska and surrounding states will help the Center to develop our loan and food programs even more widely across the area.”
Her work also entails bringing resources to beginning farmers and to producers interested in transitioning to certified organic operations.
“I believe that when we work from a place of shared values, it shifts the power away from political ideology to uniting on principles,” Meg said. “That belief has guided my approach to community building and is why I thrive working in rural communities, building bridges of mutual respect for the common good.”
When Meg has a day off, she loves to explore nature, watch birds, and is a true lover of Nebraska’s landscapes, including the salt marshes around Lincoln, the Sandhills, and the state’s riverways.
“Talk to me about your favorite Nebraska adventures and I’ll share what I know about hidden waterfalls on the Niobrara and best places to catch a full moonrise,” Meg said.
Reach Meg at her home office in Lincoln, and occasionally in the Sandhills where her parents still live, at 402.309.9096 or firstname.lastname@example.org.