2023 Conference: Plant to Table

2023 Symposium

Plant to Table

Food Production, Culture, and Consequences on the Great Plains

April 19-20, 2023 | Lincoln, Neb.

The Center's 48th annual interdisciplinary conference focuses on Indigenous food sovereignty movements; the long-standing significance of the meatpacking industry; related topics of labor, immigration, and health and safety standards; and the environmental impacts of food production and consumption. The event will include keynote speakers from some of our region’s leading experts, panel discussions on the latest research, demonstrations, tastings, workshops, and of course...food! The diversity of food from the Great Plains will be highlighted through shared meals. This conference is meant for a wide audience and welcomes the general public, scholars, students, business owners, community leaders, and life-long learners.

Registration coming soon. Subscribe to our email list below to get updates on the conference.

Supported by: UNMC College of Public Health, Ethnic Studies and Indigenous Studies, College of Law, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Agricultural Research Division, College of Education and Human Sciences, Nebraska Extension, UNL Office of Research and Economic Development, University of Nebraska at Kearney


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Sarah Vogel

Sarah Vogel

The Farmer's Lawyer

In 1983, Vogel filed a lawsuit against USDA on behalf of nine North Dakota farmers, then expanded the lawsuit to protect 245,000 farmers across the United States. It was a David and Goliath fight, but it successfully stopped thousands of foreclosures and permanently changed the way USDA treated farmers. Vogel will show how the lessons learned in the 1930s and 1980s farm depressions are again relevant as drought, floods, low prices, high costs, corporate consolidation, and uncertain federal policies squeeze out family farmers today.

Vogel, is an attorney, advocate, and author of The Farmer’s Lawyer, a memoir about her landmark class action lawsuit, Coleman v. Block. She brought this historic case against the federal government, on behalf of 240,000 family farmers facing foreclosure during the 1980s farm crisis. Vogel has spent most of her career as an advocate for family farmers, women, and Native Americans. She also served two terms as North Dakota Commissioner of Agriculture, and was the first woman in U.S. history to be elected to this position in any state. She currently serves as a Member of the Agriculture Subcommittee to USDA Equity Commission.

Taylor Keen

Taylor Keen

Sacred Seed: Indigenous Environmentalism and Living Red in Post-Colonialism

Keen’s historical journey with Indigenous seed keeping has led him to understand some of the ancient tenets of Indigenous agricultural lifeways and Indigenous environmentalism. In this talk, Keen investigates new Indigenous philosophical theories of “Living Red” in today’s turbulent times. Keen is a full-time instructor at Creighton University and holds a bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College as well as a Master of Business Administration and Master of Public Administration from Harvard University, where he served as a Fellow in the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. Keen is the author of the manuscript Rediscovering America: Sacred Geography, the Ancient Earthen Works and an Indigenous History of Turtle Island. Keen carries the name “Bison Mane” of the Earthen Bison Clan of the Omaha Tribe, The People Who Move Against the Current. Taylor Keen is the founder of Sacred Seed, which educates and celebrates Indigenous agricultural lifeways.


J. Arbuckle

The Sociology of Soil and Water Conservation in Agriculture: What have we learned, and where are we headed?

Arbuckle will trace the history of social science research on farmer adoption of new agricultural technologies and practices from the 1940s to the present. In the past 80 years, agriculture has rapidly transformed from diverse production systems to highly specialized monocultures. In the 1980s, social scientists began to look at the adoption of soil and water conservation practices in response to major environmental impacts associated with specialized commodity production. Arbuckle identifies the facilitators of and barriers to farmer adoption of soil and water conservation practices and agroecological approaches to farming. He will discuss research gaps and future research directions to inform transformations that work better for people and planet. Arbuckle is professor and extension rural sociologist at Iowa State University focused on improving the environmental and social performance of agricultural systems. His primary areas of interest are drivers of farmer and agricultural stakeholder soil and water conservation behaviors, especially related to climate change adaptation and mitigation. He is director of the Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll, an annual survey of Iowa farmers.

Rose Godinez

Rose Godinez

Through the Eyes of Meatpackers’ Daughter

Immigrants represent over 50% of Nebraska’s meatpacking workforce. At work, immigrant workers face unsafe working conditions while at home they face an immigration system threatening to tear their family apart. Godinez will relate the story of her families’ experience with and in the meatpacking industry. She will discuss how both the immigration process and the health and safety standards during the COVID-19 pandemic prompted advocacy across the state all the way to the nation’s capital. The advocacy opportunities do not stop there: Godinez will end her presentation with advocacy opportunities we can all undertake to support safe working meatpacking workers and their families.

Godinez is Senior Legal and Policy Counsel for ACLU Nebraska. She was raised in Lexington and is the proud daughter of immigrants and former meatpacking plant workers. Godinez has been a strong advocate for workers’ rights and safety both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aubrey Streit Krug

Aubrey Streit Krug

Learning the Roots of the Plants We Live By: Perennial Cultures & Perennial Grains in the Great Plains

How do we build more just and enduring food cultures that are grounded in the sufficiency of the Great Plains? Our work begins in recognizing the few, mostly annual plants by which many of us currently live—and continues in remembering and restoring the diverse, mostly perennial plants our societies can live by for the long term. By creatively investigating the relational roots of the plants we live by in the Great Plains, we can find possibilities for a more just, perennial future in which grain crops and food systems feed people while sustaining land communities.

Streit Krug is Director of Ecosphere Studies at The Land Institute, where she leads research into how humans can learn together to develop more just cultures while realizing diverse, perennial grain agricultures in the context of the ecosphere. Streit Krug holds a PhD in English & Great Plains Studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.