New faces at the Northeast Center

Kim Boonie joined the Center in late June as our new business manager. In this role, Kim will be managing the Center’s grants, coordinating meetings, and providing day-to-day administrative support to the Center. Kim has been a Penn State employee for 19 years in various capacities, mostly within the College of Agricultural Sciences. Most recently, she was a financial coordinator for Penn State Extension serving the county Extension offices in the southern half of PA as well as the 4-H, Agronomy and Natural Resources, and Energy, Environment and Community Vitality program teams. Her duties included assisting the 60+ county business operations managers and financial assistants manage their complicated budgets, and developing and teaching the financial processes required to comply with Penn State policies. She also assisted Extension Educators from these program teams with grant management, especially in all financial aspects, including policies, special sponsor reporting, and invoicing requirements. Kim enjoys reading, the outdoors, and spending time with her family, especially her grandchildren. She is excited to share and expand her knowledge and talents on this new journey with NERCRD!

Dr. Devon Meadowcroft joined the Center in July 2019 as a postdoctoral scholar. Her research interests include regional economics, rural health topics, and spatial econometrics. She graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2019 with her doctoral degree in Agricultural Economics. Her doctoral dissertation was composed of three studies focusing on the U.S. rural opioid epidemic. While at Oklahoma State, she also worked on the Northeast Center-funded project on rural innovation and its impacts on community and regional economic development. Devon also holds a master’s degree in Agricultural and Resource Economics which she received in 2016 from the University of Delaware. At the University of Delaware, her department awarded her the Outstanding Graduate Student award. Her undergraduate degree is from the University of Vermont, where she majored in Animal Science with a minor in Economics and graduated in 2013. Being a native of the Northeast, Devon is excited to be working at the Center on issues important to the area.

Dr. Anne Põder is joining the Center for one year as a visiting postdoctoral scholar from the Estonian University of Life Sciences, with funding from the Baltic-American Freedom Foundation (BAFF). BAFF provides fellowships for researchers to conduct independent or collaborative research projects in the U.S. for up to 12 months.

Anne obtained her doctoral degree in agricultural economics in 2017 from the Estonian University of Life Sciences. Her dissertation research focused on the socioeconomic determinants of entrepreneurship in Estonian rural municipalities. Her research interests are rural entrepreneurship and innovation and their relationship with rural development and demographic and socioeconomic challenges, and development and assessment of entrepreneurship education at the university level. She has a master’s degree in marketing and management and bachelor’s degree in sociology. During the last 10 years, Anne has worked on a variety of qualitative and quantitative research projects focusing on demographic and economic challenges in Estonian rural areas, effects of agricultural restructuring and farm exits on rural development and rural entrepreneurship, development and assessment of entrepreneurship education, and Estonian agricultural innovation and knowledge system.

Although not new to the Northeast Center, Dr. Sarah Rocker has transitioned into a new role as a postdoctoral scholar. She holds a PhD in Rural Sociology from Penn State and an MPA with a focus on domestic food systems policy from the Evergreen State College. Her recently completed dissertation examined roles and impacts of food value chain coordination as a regional entrepreneurial development strategy in the U.S. She uses a social networks framework to articulate how “soft” or “social” infrastructure in the form of relationships among producers, processors and buyers supports developing regional food economies. Sarah’s broader research experience includes market channel approaches for small and mid-scale producers and processors, consumer preferences, food access, regional value chain development and evaluation strategies. At NERCRD, Sarah coordinates the Agricultural Marketing Service Technical Assistance Program (AMSTA) – which provides national programming and support for current grantees of USDA’s Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Programs (FM/LFPP). She is also a member of the Pennsylvania Agroforestry Brain Trust, a recently joined member of the National Community and Economic Resource Development Indicators Team (CRED) and is currently serving on the advisory team with the Wallace Center for the 2020 National Good Food Network Conference.

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