The Kansas Rural Center (KRC) is a private non-profit research, education and advocacy organization with deep roots in Kansas agriculture, communities, and grassroots organizing. Begun in 1979 to address the loss of family farms, concentration of land and natural resources into fewer hands, and the rise of a capital intensive agricultural system that often leaves people out of the equation, KRC works to identify alternatives for a food and farming system built on stewardship and diversity, and that engages both rural and urban citizens, providing healthy and safe food, and meaningful livelihoods.
KRC is led by a governing board of up to 24 members from across Kansas who are actively working in the food and farming sectors. Most are active farmers or ranchers; they are also business people, educators, research and extension personnel, food activists and rural leaders. Similarly, staff work from across the state and have farm and ranching backgrounds, with many working in day-to-day activities of family operations.
Board of Directors
Barry Barber, Winfield
Turkey Foot Ranch
Kurt & Andi Dale, Protection
Dale Family Farms
Laura Fortmeyer, Fairview, Treasurer
Lyle Frees, Ellsworth
Retired Kansas NRCS State Agronomist & Water Quality Specialist
Lisa French, Partridge
Cheney Lake Water Quality Project
Charlie Griffin, Manhattan
Director, Rural Kansas Family Helpline; research assistant professor, Kansas State University
Caryl Hale, Norton
Norton Farmers Market Manager; Owner, HaleStorm Press
Jake Johannes, Perry
Farmer; Sacred Sun Cooperative Farm; KU School of Engineering Architecture Shop
Jackie Keller, Topeka
Farmer; Eastern KS Organic Crop Improvement Association
Jennifer Kongs, Topeka, Secretary of the Board
B the Change Media
Zack Pistora, Lawrence
Farmer; Lobbyist, Kansas Chapter, Sierra Club
Linda Pechin-Long, Beaumont
Graze The Prairie; Holistic Management
Troy Schroeder, Albert
Schroeder Family Farms; President, Kansas Wildlife Federation
Stu Shafer, Oskaloosa, President of the Board
Sandheron Farm; Director, Sustainable Agriculture Program, Johnson County Community College
Donn Teske, Wheaton
Farmer; President, Kansas Farmers Union
Gary Weisenberger, Lebanon
Wayne White, Oskaloosa, Vice President of the Board
Creekridge Farm; Author
Karen Willey; Baldwin City
Farmer; Douglas County Conservation District Board
Spencer Wood; Manhattan
Associate Professor of Sociology, Kansas State University
Mary Fund, Goff, Executive Director
Mary is the Interim Executive Director for the Kansas Rural Center, stepping in for Julie Mettenburg who resigned in December 2014. Mary is the Programs and Policy Director and the editor of KRC’s newsletter, Rural Papers. She handles KRC’s communications about farm and rural policy issues. Mary represents KRC on the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and monitors federal farm policy for KRC. Mary was the Project Director for KRC’s Clean Water Farm-River Friendly Farm Project, which provided planning assistance and cost-share to farmers and ranchers wanting to improve water quality on their farms. Having worked for KRC for 35 years, she can answer general questions and inquiries to or about KRC and can point people to the right “expert” on or off staff. She and her husband, Ed Reznicek, and their two children, own and operate a 400 acre certified organic farm in Nemaha County as 4th generation family farmers. Mary’s personal interests include vegetable gardening, as well as raising flowers, and reading and writing.
Natalie Fullerton, Great Bend, Program Director
Natalie works on KRC programs that seek to grow community food solutions and the production and sales of specialty crops and other farm products in Kansas. She has coordinated KRC’s Community Food Solutions Initiative since July 2013. During this time, KRC developed the Feeding Kansas: Statewide Farm and Food Assessment with a Plan for Public Action report. Through her five years of work at KRC, Natalie has worked extensively with farmers and ranchers, public health and health care personnel, farm and food organization and agency leaders, policy makers and others who are interested in the local food and farming system across the state. This work has included organizing KRC’s annual conference, which provides day long opportunities for farmers and ranchers, community and state leaders, health professionals, and local food advocates to gather and learn new skills or information to advance their businesses or strengthen farm and food systems. Natalie has a master’s of science degree in Public Horticulture Administration with a minor in Community & Regional Planning from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She has a bachelor’s degree in horticulture and grew up on a family farm in Northeast Nebraska. Natalie believes local food is an fundamental aspect in the future health of our citizens and economy in Kansas and nationwide.
Joanna comes from a long line of Kansas ranchers and farmers. These ties to the land create a deep love of the Kansas landscape and an appreciation of the role that farmers and ranchers play in conserving it. Joanna helped plant 700 pecan seedlings on her dad’s farm west of Perry when she was in high school, and returned 15 years later to help establish and run a u-pick pecan operation. She has been involved with conservation programs on two family farms, returning 120 acres of row crops to native grass prairie, planting a 10-acre riparian buffer, and installing ¼ acre of pollinator habitat on one farm, and implementing rotational grazing and a patch burn program on a farm in Osage county. Joanna lives on 30 acres in Douglas county. She is a beekeeper, and a certified “Bee Friendly Farmer”. She has a B.S. in Civil Engineering and a minor in English from the University of Kansas, and is nearing completion of an Environmental Sciences degree through Oregon State University.
Tom Buller, Lawrence, Program Coordinator
Tom works for the Kansas Rural Center to promote and enhance specialty crop production in Kansas. His focus is on high tunnel production and integrating conservation strategies into fruit and vegetable cropping systems. Since 2006, he has owned and operated Buller Family Farm, along with his wife and two children. They produce a variety of certified organic fruits and vegetables and are located in the Kansas River valley east of Lawrence. Tom has actively worked to build the local food system in northeast Kansas. He was the market manager for the Lawrence Farmer’s Market from 2009-2012 and is currently a board member. He is also a founding member of Fresh Farm HQ, a farmer owned cooperative food hub serving the Kansas City Metropolitan area. Tom is a graduate of the University of Kansas and holds a Master of Arts in Geography from the University of Minnesota where he focused on race, economic geography and rural development.