Rural America reflects my life, my family, my values, and my belief in the power of community. My father farmed in Nemaha County, Nebraska, where he met my mom in her hometown, Brownville. After they married, he decided to pursue teaching and research in agricultural engineering, which led our family to Stillwater, Oklahoma.
I grew up in Stillwater, attending one-fourth scale tractor pulls and watching my dad conduct experiments in the field. Every holiday we visited my mom’s family in Brownville or my dad’s family, who eventually relocated to the same area. His family grew field corn and soybeans, and raised cattle. Rural Nebraska became my second home, and eventually, after retirement, my mom and dad took over the family farm. I moved to Nebraska to be close to my parents, to be part of a rural community, and to help others who love this life and want to preserve it for the future.
My first job in high school was working on an agronomy research farm in Oklahoma helping with wheat harvest. Though the work was messy and hot, it inspired my love for agriculture. I went on to study agricultural communications and worked in higher education promoting agriculture as a career. From there I worked in fundraising, alumni relations, and most recently in community recovery and resiliency following a disaster.
I believe the Center is doing vital work in rural America through its direct outreach and support to communities, farmers, and small business owners. This position allows me to build on my past personal and professional experiences to make a difference in communities like my own.