We caught up with Emily Reno as she completed her Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree, concentrating on designing sustainable food systems. Reno is from Lawrence, Kansas.
What are your plans after graduation?
I’m moving to Pelican Rapids, Minnesota for the summer to work on a CSA farm. In August I’m off to Little Falls, Minnesota to start a two-year public service fellowship through Lead for Minnesota.
What are your longer term goals?
Aside from farming, I hope to launch my own consulting business that brings together the arts, personal growth, and agriculture to unleash the entrepreneurial talent of small towns. I plan to collaborate with rural communities to build dynamic tools and strategies that celebrate the culinary and cultural heritage of its residents, and become premiere destinations for young talent.
Why did you choose to attend the Humphrey School?
I completed a Sustainable Agriculture Entrepreneurship Certificate program at Johnson County Community College in Kansas, which served as a pivotal moment in me realizing how much opportunity there was to build a career in local foods, and basically use food as a tool for social change. At the University of Kansas, I became really interested in planning because it was a field where you could take overwhelming environmental issues and attach some kind of action plan and a timeline to addressing those issues.
I knew that I didn't want to be just a farmer, but also help build better infrastructure for farmers to thrive financially. I saw going further in my education as a way to build social capital and increase my credibility, and I have not been disappointed one bit by the doors it has opened and the relationships it has allowed me to form.
What are the most important takeaways from your time at the Humphrey School?
As odd as it sounds, getting a planning degree in a policy school (as opposed to a design school) made me realize how important the arts are to me, and that whatever future career endeavors I undertake, I cannot compromise on prioritizing my creativity.