Staff spotlight: Rebecca’s road to rural success

Rebecca White has gone above and beyond with her job duties and dedicated the last 30 years to helping Native communities in Nebraska.

Recently, the Plainview, Nebraska, native added her decades of commitment and experience to the Center for Rural Affairs team.

Hired as a Tribal projects manager, Rebecca works alongside the Omaha and Santee Sioux Tribes in the Center’s food systems projects.

“I work with the other Center staff members in Santee, Macy, and Walthill, Nebraska, to help develop Tribal members and communities into growers and business owners,” said Rebecca. “I love that I’m constantly meeting and learning about new people, and starting projects to help them better their communities.”

Rebecca has no shortage of plans for her new role. She hopes to develop ways for individual Tribal members to plan and make healthier life choices; make healthier food more accessible; create simple ways to add healthier alternatives into Native communities; educate Tribal members with simple recipes and ways to prepare healthy alternatives; assist Tribal members and communities with gardens; and provide business education and ways for produce or products to be sold.

“My goal is for Tribal members to improve their health by learning about, eating, growing, selling, and teaching others about their own produce,” she said.

Her wealth of experience has prepared her to make these goals a reality. Rebecca was the first elected chairwoman for any of the Tribes in Nebraska; she served as president of economic development and started Ponca Smoke Signals; served as Tribal Health Planner; and wrote and was awarded the Indian Health Services Joint Venture Construction Grant.

Though she’s well into her career, Rebecca’s passion for rural areas still burns as strong as ever.

“We don't understand how lucky we are to have the farming infrastructure that we do, as we spend about 10 percent of our earnings on food while the rest of the world spends an estimated 25 percent,” she said. “I was raised on a farm, and I am a proud product of rural America. Whether you realize it or not, every single one of us relies on rural America every day, and I’m glad I can contribute even a little bit to it.”

Rebecca can be reached at her office in Lyons at 402.687.2100 ext. 1018 or rebeccaw@cfra.org.