From the desk of the executive director: looking forward to the new year

As we look forward to 2019, I am amazed what you—our staff, our board, and our supporters—have achieved. 

The past year marked the Center’s 45th anniversary. I am proud that the Center remains vibrant and relevant. That was true in 1973 at our founding, and it is true today. 

Challenges—and we saw a few the last year—can test our patience and resolve. We persevere because we are guided by our pragmatic commitment to change and our clear and consistent values. 

Consider a few highlights from the last year.

• The Center has always attracted a national constituency. Increasingly, we are matching that with staff and contractors on the ground outside of Nebraska. In recent years, we’ve added staff and contract organizers in Kansas, South Dakota, and Iowa. Our work reaches even further through partnerships and through you, our supporters.

• Congress tested our patience and our resolve in 2018. As this goes to print, it appears that a stalemate on the five-year farm bill is broken. Many of you engaged in the campaign for a bill that invests in conservation, creates opportunity, and curbs corporate control.

• We expanded our work to serve new immigrants in Nebraska. A team of 10 staff now works in communities across the state providing business assistance, capacity building, and local organizing to create inclusive and vibrant communities for all residents.

• In our home state of Nebraska, the Center backed a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid. As a result, Nebraska joined three other largely rural states in expanding Medicaid at the ballot box. Low-income working adults across all four states gained access to critical health coverage.

• Our small business assistance work reached 1,349 businesses and assisted 126 of them with lending capital. We now make small business loans up to $150,000 to generate small town economic development.

• Our staff and local partners helped 462 gardeners as part of a multi-year effort to reach full food security on two Native American reservations.

These are just a few of your achievements. Taken together with our full body of work and combined with the work each of you is doing in your own community, we are shaping the future of rural America.

Our work may not always be easy, and the path forward may not always be clear. What does remain clear is your collective commitment to advancing the values and mission of the Center.

I feel so lucky to do this work with each of you.