About CARI

Mission Statement

To help create a rural community and agricultural structure that is economically viable, environmentally sound, socially acceptable and sustainable into the future. Our foci include leadership, sustainable agriculture, and economic and community development through education and research.

Current Programs

Nebraska Rural Poll

Since its beginning in 1996, the Nebraska Rural Poll has served as the aggregated voice of rural Nebraskans for policy issues. Poll findings are distributed to state legislators, staff members of the Nebraska congressional delegation and other state and local leaders to facilitate their policy decision making with rural issues in mind.

Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable Agriculture is economically profitable, environmentally sound and socially viable for the long term. Nebraska’s economic dependence on agriculture makes sustainability even more important.


NebraskaEDGE is the umbrella organization for rural entrepreneurial training programs hosted by local communities, organizations and associations. Since 1993, the NebraskaEDGE has helped nearly 2,250 individuals, small business owners and their partners start and improve their businesses. Over 100 training courses have been held in urban and rural communities across Nebraska. Positive results of NebraskaEDGE programs can be observed all across the state.

Buy Fresh Buy Local Nebraska

Buy Fresh, Buy Local Nebraska is an outreach and marketing initiative to promote and support local foods. The initiative began in 2006 after tremendous research was done by a conglomeration of consumers, farmers, non-profits and small local businesses that wanted to create something of benefit for all Nebraska communities. With on-going grass roots support, it is a collaborative effort of the Nebraska Sustainable Ag Society, Nebraska Cooperative Development Center, and Great Plains RC&D. Along with our national partner Foodroutes Network.

Nebraska Cooperative Development Center

The Nebraska Cooperative Development Center (NCDC) is Nebraska’s nonprofit center for cooperative based business development. NCDC provides education, training and technical assistance to cooperatively owned businesses and is committed to creating sustainable communities where people work together to meet their needs and reach their goals.


CARI is the focal point within the University of Nebraska–Lincoln for communities and individuals to obtain information and program support they need to enhance their economic and social well-being. Collaboration is the key to CARI's success. Four collaborative organizations in which CARI has taken the lead are:

Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI)

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Iowa State University and the University of Missouri partnered to create RUPRI. RUPRI aims to spur public dialogue and help policymakers understand the rural impacts of public policies and programs. CARI represents UNL’s involvement in RUPRI.