Center for Rural Affairs July and August 2021 Newsletter

Small Towns
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Editor’s note

Throughout this issue, we focus on one of our organization’s core values: “CONSCIENCE that balances self-interest with an obligation to the common good and future generations.”

Karen Tikalsky, who served as a Center Board member for several decades, devoted her life to the common good. She advocated for all rural families, especially women, family farmers, and low-income communities. Unfortunately, we lost her to cancer in early 2020. You can read more about her life’s work in the front page feature.

In our other front page story, Molly Herman, a public health worker, explains what a rural health department is doing to distribute vaccinations. A related story explains efforts by Center staff member Nina Lanuza to help with the language barrier at vaccination clinics. Molly, Nina, and other health workers have set their own interests aside to help as many as they can during the pandemic.

We tell you about students at Nebraska Christian Schools who are growing fresh produce for their fellow students and setting their community up for success. They are the recipients of our first ever Greenhouse to Cafeteria award.

We summarize our successful state policy efforts focusing on the future of small meat processing, rural broadband, food access, and more.

And, finally, our executive director talks about our organization’s focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Check it out.

Inside this issue

Karen Tikalsky championed women, family farmers, and low-income communities - As a child, Karen Tikalsky believed good would prevail over evil. As an adult, she learned that creating opportunity and meaningful life in rural America requires hard work, embracing responsibility, civic action, and advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves. 

From the desk of the executive director: Board adopts equity and diversity principles - Center staff and Board spent the past year developing a set of principles to help guide our commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. In adopting these principles at our recent Board meeting, the Center commits to deepening our work to address the legacy of racism and inequality in rural communities.

Public health worker encourages rural Americans to get vaccinated - Molly Herman, a rural public health worker at a health department in Nebraska, stepped into her role in this field not long after the coronavirus spread throughout the nation. She recently received both doses of the vaccine, and says she had plenty of reasons to do so.

Center joins in vaccination effort - With more than 36 languages spoken in Schuyler, Nebraska, population 6,211, community organizations, businesses, and volunteers have pitched in to assist at the weekly COVID-19 vaccination clinic.

Nebraska Christian Schools cultivates success, wins first Greenhouse to Cafeteria award - During this school year, students at Nebraska Christian Schools in Central City have been eating fresh, delicious vegetables in their school lunches—vegetables they grew themselves in their school greenhouse.

New legislation provides support for small meat processors, rural broadband improvements - The passage of bills supporting small meat processors and livestock producers was a common theme as the 2021 legislative sessions in Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota came to an end.

Latest paper focuses on hunger and economy - Across the country, states have been innovative in finding ways to integrate the goals of eliminating hunger and strengthening local food systems, according to a white paper released by the Center for Rural Affairs.

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