It’s getting hot for CREE!

by | Aug 30, 2019

The Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement (CREE) is expanding south with the move of one of its co-founders, Dr. Lauri M. Baker, to the University of Florida. What does this mean for CREE? New and exciting ideas and more resources dedicated to generating and sharing knowledge about new-media marketing to enable rural and agriculture-based businesses to flourish in ever-changing environments.

Where we have been
When CREE started in February of 2015, our stakeholder group was predominantly in Kansas. As our efforts expanded with the first Bootcamp (Insight Summit) in February 2016, we expanded our stakeholders to the central plains and Midwest; as there was a large need throughout the area for hands-on training in new- and social-media technology.

The first time we expanded
This isn’t the first time CREE expanded to another institution. In August of 2015, one of our co-founders, Dr. Hikaru H. Peterson, moved to the University of Minnesota. With this move, CREE had access to resources from two large, land-grant institutions, and we were able to become more competitive in grant funding opportunities. This also grew our stakeholder groups and allowed for greater connections to other faculty doing similar work.

Plans to serve all states
We have planned for a long time to bring the Insight Summit to Minnesota, and in 2020 we will have the Insight Summit at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul Campus. We hope that many Kansas and other Midwest stakeholders will take the drive up to Minnesota for the event. But, this will also allow for Minnesota stakeholders to have up-close access to our major event of the year. We hope to even see a few Southerners make it up for the event! We are looking at many ways to continue making this event as accessible as possible for as many as possible. We will share details about how as we have these available.

In 2021, we will host the Insight Summit in Florida and hope that many people from across the country will be excited to travel to Florida in the winter for hands-on learning about new and social media.

CREE’s leadership structure
All three of CREE’s co-founders will continue to work on the CREE mission and engage in transdisciplinary research, teaching, and Extension work that helps small, rural agriculture-based business thrive through the use of new-media technologies. Our current leadership structure looks like this:
Dr. Lauri M. Baker, co-founder and director at the University of Florida
Dr. Cheryl Boyer, co-founder and director at Kansas State University
Dr. Hikaru H. Peterson, co-founder and director at the University of Minnesota

The future is even hotter
With Dr. Baker’s move to Florida she has a shift in appointments. She now has a 65% research 35% Extension split. This will give her more time to focus on conducting research and sharing that research with our stakeholders. She will continue to teach through mentoring graduate and undergraduate researchers so the next generation will be prepared to continue the CREE mission.

All of this and a slice of PIE
Dr. Baker’s tenure home is in the agricultural education and communication department at the University of Florida, and her research and Extension work is with the Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (PIE Center). CREE and PIE have a shared love for making research more accessible and useable for stakeholders. PIE’s mission is to increase public understanding of and engagement in agricultural and natural resources issues through making science and education more accessible. We see many areas for shared resources and collaborations across centers as the two serve stakeholders across the U.S.

This is an exciting time of expansion for CREE, and we look forward to continuing to connect with all of you as we grow. Our online learning resource,, will continue to be the hub for our work. You can always connect with us via Facebook. We will continue to share with you new ways to find us as our networks expand. Thank you for being a part of our journey!