Your Stories

Staff spotlight: a love of travel, food, and people brought Vanesa to the Center

“Good things don't come to you easily; if you want to achieve your goals in life, you better fight for them, and be prepared to compromise things you love.”

Vanesa Salgado-Perez says her parents’ words of wisdom get her through the days when she’s missing them the most.

Though her family lives in Spain, Vanesa makes her home in Vermillion, South Dakota. One of the newest members of the Center for Rural Affairs team, she serves as a community organizing associate.

Passion for rural entrepreneurs leads to award for REAP 2017 Friend of the Year

Seven years ago, when Sara Bennett began working for Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC), she had no idea that her passion for serving rural entrepreneurs would lead to winning an award.

Because of her dedication, Sara has been chosen as the Center for Rural Affairs’ Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) 2017 Friend of the Year. She was recognized at an award ceremony on March 9 in Red Cloud, Nebraska.

From a military career to sustainable agriculture: Hoops can handle it all

Veteran. Farmer. Business owner. Father.

These are just a few of the titles Brent Hoops holds. He’s also a conservationist who utilizes environmental preservation and protection practices on Good Earth Farms, his commercial soybean and corn operation, near Hastings, Nebraska.

Hoops shared his conservation experience at the Center for Rural Affairs’ Veteran Farmer Conference in March.

Latino-owned businesses in Nebraska almost doubled in five years, according to report

Husband and wife business partners, Diego Leon and Jenny Lopez, rely on their memories of Colombian fruit and juice stands to recreate the vibrant and unique dishes of their homeland. These thoughts inspire their restaurant, FRUIT, in Grand Island, Nebraska.

The couple immigrated to the U.S. in 2014, and opened their business in January 2016. Diego says starting their venture was an intensive process, but a labor of love.

Harding receives George Norris Policymaker Award

Mary Harding has strong feelings about public power and rural advocacy.

Her passion for these issues has become the focus of her work, as she has been a member of the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) Board of Directors since 2003. And, until recently, served as the only woman on the board.

Mary’s dedication has not wavered over the years, which has led the Center for Rural Affairs to bestow upon her the 2017 George Norris Policymaker Award. She was recognized at a ceremony on March 9 in Red Cloud, Nebraska.

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