The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund has hired Dr. Marcus Bernard as the new Director of its Rural Training & Research Center in Epes, Alabama. He will officially begin on August 1, 2016 and will work closely with John Zippert during his orientation and transition. John Zippert, who has been our director of the Training Center for decades, will still be very much engaged in the work of the Federation, but will start to decrease his time toward a part time position and focus more on resource development and documentation of the organization.
“I look forward to working with Marcus and continuing to move the organization forward,” said Cornelius Blanding, Executive Director.
A native of Supply, North Carolina, Marcus grew up working in his family’s produce operation located in southeastern North Carolina, where he came to value and understand the importance of family as well as the strong sense of pride and independence associated with living in a tightly woven rural community. During his eduational career, he has worked with numerous rural-based organizations such as the Concerned Citizens of Tillery, Cedar Grove Improvement Association, Operation Spring Plant, the Black Farmers and Agriculturalist Association, the North Carolina Black Farmers Association and the Black Belt Justice Center.
Additionally, Marcus has worked with the Black Male Working academy on numerous urban agriculture and community gardening projects in Lexington, Kentucky. His professional experience includes working as a Cooperative Development Officer in the International Trade Center at North Carolina A&T State University and a Produce Sales Officer for Glory Foods. He earned his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Agricultural Economics from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. He earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Rural Sociology from the University of Kentucky where his dissertation research gives immediate voice to the story and struggle of Black farmers in North Carolina by focusing on ideas of family, manhood, farm wives, building community, and the far reaching consequences of the politics of farming. As the new Director of the Rural Training and Research Center (RTRC), his goal is to build onto the standing legacy of the RTRC and contribute holistically to the growth of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund.