Posted: December 9, 2021

Congratulations to former NERCRD Postdoctoral Scholar Dr. Sarah Rocker, who accepted a position as a National Program Leader with USDA NIFA, effective November 22. Rocker’s three-year tenure with the NERCRD ended on September 1.

Postdoctoral researcher Sarah Rocker, circa 2019.As a postdoctoral scholar, Sarah contributed her expertise in local and regional food systems, social network analysis, value chain coordination, and evaluation strategies. Most recently, she represented NERCRD on a USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Cooperative Agreement with the University of Kentucky and Colorado State University. The project examines the impacts, adaptations, and innovations of COVID-19 on U.S. local and regional food systems. Before that, she coordinated the AMS Technical Assistance Program (AMSTA), which provided national programming and support for grantees of USDA’s Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Programs (FM/LFPP).

Sarah’s first affiliation with NERCRD was in 2014, when she served as a member of its USDA NIFA-funded research and outreach project called Enhancing Food Security in the Northeast (EFSNE) while pursuing her PhD in Rural Sociology at Penn State. She provided collaborative leadership to the EFSNE internship program and contributed to the project’s consumption and education research.

In her new role as National Program Leader for the USDA NIFA Family and Community Health portfolio, Sarah will provide programmatic leadership for the Regional Rural Development Centers, Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network, and New Technologies for Agricultural Extension.

While we are so sorry to see Sarah go, we share in her excitement as she embarks on the next chapter of her career and look forward to working with her in this new capacity.