Center for Rural Affairs honors handful of Nebraska advocates

By: - February 17, 2023 6:04 pm
The Center for Rural Affairs office in Lyons, Nebraska

The Center for Rural Affairs office in Lyons, Neb. (Courtesy of the Center for Rural Affairs)

LINCOLN — The Center for Rural Affairs is honoring a handful of Nebraskans for their work in advocating for rural affairs.

The center, based in Lyons, Nebraska, announced it is giving awards to four Nebraskans in its 50th year, with additional honorees from Kansas and South Dakota. The private nonprofit’s mission is to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches and rural communities. 

Brian Depew, executive director for the center, said in a statement the organization’s work relies on grassroots rural residents who engage with the center in their communities.

“This year’s award winners reflect individuals working in their own communities and in their own roles to create change — from protecting our land and water, to starting critical businesses, to supporting entrepreneurs and advancing policy change,” Depew said. “Each one has helped advance the Center’s mission to build vibrant rural communities.”

More information about the awards and past winners is available here. The center will honor each recipient with a ceremony in their respective communities.

George Norris Policy Award: State Sen. Myron Dorn of Adams is recognized for a bipartisan approach with compromise and consensus to support family farms and rural communities. 

Rural Community Champion Award: LaVonne Snake of Winnebago is recognized for “extraordinary contributions” in building community engagement around nutrition education and food sovereignty.

Entrepreneur Award: Reyna Sibrian, Blanca González and Joaquina Rojas, owners of Bambino’s Daycare in South Sioux City, are recognized for using the center’s services to operate and grow their business.

Entrepreneur Partner Award: ECHO Collective in Lincoln is recognized for demonstrating “outstanding support” to the center and “exceptional dedication” to small business development. According to the news release, this included technical assistance, business training, lending and networking across rural Nebraska.

Honorees outside Nebraska:

  • Seventh Generation Award: Jim and Lisa French of Partridge, Kansas, for “lifetime service” in major contributions to improve rural life and the protection of land and water.
  • Citizenship Award: Megan Vaith of Scotland, South Dakota, for working closely with the center to advance public policies in line with its mission.

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Zach Wendling
Zach Wendling

Zach Wendling is a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, double-majoring in journalism and political science. He has interned for The Hill and The News Station in Washington, D.C., and has reported for the Nebraska News Service and The Daily Nebraskan.