As 2023 wraps up and the Center for Rural Affairs’ 50-year anniversary winds down, be sure to check out our special video commemorating our past, present, and future. The video is below and you can find it on our YouTube Channel.
‘Celebrating 50 Years of Community Empowerment’
In 1973, a group of rural Nebraskans came together with a passion. They knew they had to raise their voices if they wanted federal policy to work for rural Americans. So, the Center was born. You can read more about our history here.
Today, the Center for Rural Affairs works on everything rural. Our policy work spans the nation and is focused in the states of Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, and Minnesota. Our on-the-ground work with communities and farmers takes place in Iowa and Nebraska. We lend to small businesses and homeowners in Nebraska. A new initiative lends to meat and poultry producers in multiple states.
“Celebrating 50 Years of Community Empowerment” features interviews from Executive Director Brian Depew, Board President Dennis Demmel, Farm and Community Director Sandra Renner, Women's Business Center Director Jessica Campos, and past Policy Director Johnathan Hladik.
Take a look. And join us as we plan to be around for another 50 years, fighting the rural fight.
In case you missed it
Throughout this year, we published pieces on each part of our work—from family farms to communities to small businesses to policy. Here’s a recap:
- Decades of responding to changing rural communities, with Executive Director Brian Depew
- Assisting family farmers and ranchers, with Assistant Farm & Community Director Wyatt Fraas
- Policy has been steady throughout our history, with past Policy Director Johnathan Hladik
- Lending boosts communities, with Lending Services Director Kim Preston
- Community remains focus after decades of work, with Farm & Community Director Sandra Renner
Additionally, early in September, we held a celebration for our 50th anniversary. I looked around and realized our organization’s impact. Attendees ranged from 3 months to nearly 90 years. I heard laughter, conversations beginning with “do you remember when…,” shrieks from kids (who found new friends and kittens), and best of all, I got hugs and heard stories from all of you.
We listened to speeches from Julia Kleinschmit who interned at the Center and whose dad worked here for many years, Wyatt Fraas who has dedicated his career to the Center, and from Connie Hansen who is a long-time donor and former board member alongside her husband, David.
Barbara Dilly, board member, even wrote a song commemorating our 50 years, “We Are Rural America!” We’ll soon have a video up on our YouTube channel.
And, throughout the year, you shared your stories with me. Here’s one we published from Paul Olson, a retired Center Board member.
Thank you for sharing, for your kind donations and cards, and most importantly, for your dedication to the Center during our first 50 years. Here’s to many more!
Take a look at the video
Feature photo: Board President Dennis Demmel is featured on the video from his ranch in Ogallala, Nebraska. | Screenshot of "Celebrating 50 Years of Community Empowerment."