Staff spotlight: from the Air Force to rural America – service is Cora’s calling

Even though she’s traveled all over the world, Cora Fox says her favorite places are the small towns and wide open spaces in the heartland of America.

Cora’s love of rural led her to the Center for Rural Affairs, where she has spent the last year working toward bettering small communities, farms, and ranches.

As a policy associate, she spends much of her time engaging with Center supporters. Not only do these interactions guide her work, Cora also gains valuable insight from them, which helps her develop outreach and media materials, conduct agriculture policy research and analysis, and maintain and strengthen relationships with key Congressional lawmakers.

Cora takes pride in working with farmers and ranchers in addressing important matters, especially concerning the farm bill.

“I thoroughly enjoy connecting farmers and ranchers with their representatives so they can share ground truth,” she said. “Dwight D. Eisenhower once stated, ‘Farming looks easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field.’ Washington, D.C., is disconnected from rural America, and I feel the Center helps bridge that gap.”

Uniquely qualified for this work, Cora is not only educated in policy and sustainability, she’s also no stranger to rural living. An Iowa native, she was raised on a century farm in the Loess Hills. She’s the sixth generation on her family farm, where they raise corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and registered black Angus cattle.

Because of her upbringing, she hopes to offer some farmer perspective to her work, and to continue building grassroots support for important programs that help farmers and ranchers as they take on the risks that come with working in agriculture.

“Farming has been my family's livelihood for 140 years,” Cora said. “I’m fortunate to be able to help continue our stewardship not only through farming itself, but also through effective policy changes.”

Wanting to serve her country, Cora joined the Air Force during college. After spending much of her military career deployed in different locations, her deep-rooted connection to the land brought her back home to rural Monona County in Iowa.

“Folks in rural America are often ignored, but our history is rich and vibrant, and our future is full of opportunity,” she said. “Take a drive down the main street of a rural community – there may be some empty storefronts, but I see opportunity for growth.”

Cora is sure of the potential small towns have, and also believes in the goodness of the people who live there, saying they’re a big reason why she works so hard for rural America.

“You can always count on a neighbor to help pull a calf, or finish harvesting those last few acres of corn before the snow comes,” she said. “With every vehicle that passes, you'll receive a friendly wave. When you buy your groceries at the local grocery store, the cashier will call you by your first name. Maybe that seems too good to be true, but it's a reality for most of us here.”

Cora can be reached at the Center’s main office in Lyons, Nebraska, at 402.687.2100 ext. 1012 or