Center for Rural Affairs celebrates its 50th anniversary

Small Towns
Farm and Food

Teresa Hoffman, senior communications associate,, 402.687.2100, ext. 1012

In 1973, a group of rural Nebraskans came together with a shared passion. Concerned about the loss of economic opportunity in agriculture and the decline of rural communities, they founded the Center for Rural Affairs. 

Fifty years later, from a base in northeast Nebraska, the Center has developed a broad set of programs to address the challenges of rural residents, engaging closely with them to build a better future and create vibrant rural communities. 

The organization’s policy work spans the nation with a focus in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, and Minnesota. The Center’s work with communities, small businesses, and farmers takes place in Iowa and Nebraska, and the organization provides lending services to small businesses and homeowners in Nebraska.

Current and former Center staff, board members, and supporters recently gathered in Hartington, Nebraska, to celebrate the organization's 50th anniversary. 

Executive Director Brian Depew said the Center believes that no matter where people live, they ought to have access to opportunity.

“The Center has always been rooted in small towns and guided by a grassroots board of directors,” he said. “Our programs have evolved over time, but the focus is always on creating opportunity and improving the quality of life for everyone who calls rural America home.” 

Looking back on the organization's 50-year history, Depew is appreciative of the staff, board, and constituents who built the Center into the vibrant organization it is today, and he is confident that dedication will continue. 

“The staff is as big as it has ever been, the programs are as diverse and engaged in the communities than they have ever been,” he said. “To me, that’s the sign of an organization that is built to last for another 50 years.”

To learn more about the Center, watch "Celebrating 50 Years of Community Empowerment” at

Feature photo: Executive Director Brian Depew welcomes guests at the Center's 50th anniversary celebration.  |  Photo by Kylie Kai