Rural Grocery Initiative Staff
David Procter (Ph.D., University of Nebraska) is a professor of communication studies. He is the former director of K-State’s Center for Engagement and Community Development. Since arriving at K-State in 1987, he has worked in partnership with communities across the state on issues of community strategic planning, facilitation of community dialogue, and strategies for sustaining rural grocery stores. In 2007, he and a number of campus and community partners launched the nationally-recognized Rural Grocery Initiative. This initiative has received multiple awards, including the “Outstanding Community Development Program” by the International Community Development Society (2010) and the “W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award” by the Engagement Scholarship Consortium (2018). Procter has authored numerous book chapters on rural grocery operations and presented his work at national and international conferences. He serves on the advisory board of the Healthy Food Policy Project.
Erica Blair, Program Manager
Erica Blair is an Extension Specialist with K-State Research and Extension and a Program Manager for both the Rural Grocery Initiative and Kansas Healthy Food Initiative. In this role, she supports healthy food retail across the state and nation by providing technical assistance on a range of topics, including grocery ownership models, financial resources, and e-commerce, among others. Erica earned her B.F.A. in Intermedia and Certificate in Sustainability from the University of Iowa, and her M.S. in Environmental Policy from the University of Michigan. Her previous experience includes conducting research on cover crop adoption in the Midwest, working on a diverse vegetable farm, and organizing campaigns with local communities to support sustainable agriculture.
Rial Carver, Program Manager
Rial Carver is a Program Manager for the Rural Grocery Initiative and Kansas Healthy Food Initiative. She is also an Extension Specialist for K-State Research and Extension with a focus on rural and healthy food access initiatives. Rial earned a B.S. in Environmental Policy and Planning with a minor in Civic Agriculture and Food Systems from Virginia Tech. Her experience includes working as the Sustainability Coordinator at Virginia Tech Dining Services where she increased local food sourcing, implemented composting initiatives, and initiated a reusable to-go container program. She completed a Master of Regional and Community Planning degree at Kansas State University. Rial and her husband enjoy exploring the great outdoors with their pup, Cora, and gardening at the Manhattan Community Gardens.