IANR names finalists for Rural Prosperity Nebraska director, program leader

IANR names finalists for Rural Prosperity Nebraska director, program leader
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November 4th, 2021 | IANR News

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources has selected four finalists in its search for director, and one finalist for program leader, of Rural Prosperity Nebraska. The candidates will visit Nebraska and participate in public seminars in Lincoln Nov. 4 to 30.

Rural Prosperity Nebraska’s director will work on the university’s East Campus and will focus primarily on scholarship that benefits rural communities, as well as create teams that seek out and secure grants and funding opportunities to aid in community development. Stationed in the West Central Research, Extension and Education Center in North Platte, the program leader will oversee the extension arm of Rural Prosperity Nebraska, turning rural scholarship theories into practice to aid in community vitality.

“Neither of these positions can operate at their optimum in isolation of the other,” said Mark Balschweid, head of the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication and chair of the search advisory committee. “What’s different about this than the Rural Futures Institute, than Community Vitality Initiative, than any of the predecessors to RPN is that we lacked the scholarly piece that helps people around the world know we’re doing great things here in Nebraska, and we’ve got research-based evidence to support what we’re doing on the ground.”

The candidates, selected through an international search, will share an in-person presentation with the public and wider university community, focusing on their views on leadership and their vision for Rural Prosperity Nebraska. A Q&A between the candidates and attendees will follow. The seminars will also be broadcast via Zoom.

“I’ve been very impressed by the caliber of individuals who are interested in these two positions,” Balschweid said. “I think it communicates that people who work in this space recognize what’s happening in Nebraska and are very much wanting to be a part of this. I’m excited about these candidates and their interviews, and to see how they connect with our stakeholders.”

The finalists, listed by presentation date, are:

Director candidates:

  • Mary Emery, professor of sociology and rural studies, South Dakota State University, Nov. 4, 10:30 to 11:45 a.m., Nebraska East Union’s Great Plains Room B (livestream available)
  • Mallory Rahe, director of Missouri Small Business Center for Agriculture, Food and Forestry, University of Missouri, Nov. 9, 9:30 to 10:45 a.m., Nebraska East Union’s Great Plains Room B (livestream available)
  • Brian Via, director of Forest Products Development Center and Regions Bank Professor, Auburn University, Nov. 15, 10:30 to 11:45 a.m., Nebraska East Union’s Great Plains Room B (livestream available)
  • Eric Vaz, graduate program director, master of spatial analysis, Yeates School of Graduate Studies, Ryerson University, Canada, Nov. 22, 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. (Zoom only)

Program leader finalist:

  • Steve Henness, founder, Clover Stem Consulting, LLC, Columbia, Missouri, Nov. 30, 10 to 11:15 a.m., West Central Research, Extension and Education Center, North Platte (Zoom available)

For additional information on the candidates, links to their presentations via livestream or Zoom, and to submit questions for the Q&As, click here.

For more information on Rural Prosperity Nebraska, click here.


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