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Janet S Ayres

Janet Ayres is a professor and Extension specialist in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University. As a sociologist, her work focuses on building the capacity of rural leaders, and state and federal professionals who work in rural areas, to address community change, create a strategic direction, manage conflict and build leadership for local decision making and action. She has developed nearly 30 state, multi-state, and national leadership development programs, including initiaties in Poland and Russia. Over 100,000 people have participated in her programs and thousands of others have been reached by those she has trained.

Janet teaches a senior-level undergraduate course that examines the interface between change, conflict, public policy and leadership related to controversial issues in agriculture. She led a multi-state student leadership academy which produced 14 learning modules and co-led the development of the Purdue College of Agriculture Leadership Development Certificate program for undergraduate students. These programs and materials have been used by colleges and universities across the country.

Janet's current research interests lie in the area of rural change, residents' attitudes toward agriculture and controversial issues, and collaborative processes that bring people together to establish communication, build relationships, manage conflict, and create innovative ways to move forward.

Janet received her B.A. in sociology and design from Purdue University in 1973; Masters of Regional Planning from Cornell University in 1975; and Ph.D. in Sociology from Purdue in 1981. She worked as a Certified Land Use Planner prior to coming to Purdue iin 1977.


Awards & Honors

(2014) John Niederman Rural Development Leadership Award. Indiana Association for Community Economic Development.

(2010) Dean's Team Award. Purdue College of Agriculture.

(2009) Award of Appreciation. USDA - Rural Business Cooperative Services.

(2009) PUCESA Team Award. Purdue University Cooperative Extension Specialists' Association.

(2008) Friend of Conservation. National Association of Conservation Districts.

(2005) Award of Service Appreciation. Community Development Society.

(2002) Agriculture Team Award. Land Use Team.

Selected Publications

Ayres, J. S., & Orick, J. (2014). Purdue Master Gardener Growing Through Leadership Host Toolkit, 84. Retrieved from

Carriere, D., & Ayres, J. S. (2013). Food Insecurity in Rural Indiana, 4. Retrieved from

Waldorf, B., Ayres, J. S., & McKendree, M. (2013). Population Trends in Rural Indiana, 3. Retrieved from

Camp, K., & Ayres, J. S. (2013). Unemployment Trends in Rural Indiana, 4. Retrieved from

Ayres, J. S. (2012). Essential ingredients in successful visioning. In Community visioning programs (Vol. First, pp. 16-32). London: Routledge.

Ayres, J. S., Waldorf, B., McKendree, M., & Hoelscher, L. (2012). Defining Rural indiana - The First Step, 4. Retrieved from

Prokopy, L. S., Aldrich, D., Ayres, J. S., Amberg, S., Malloy, A., Saylor, A., & Thompson, A. (2012). Context matters: The importance of local culture in community participation. Journal of Extension, 50(2), 1-10. Retrieved from

Floress, K., Prokopy, L., & Ayres, J. S. (2011). Who's in charge: Role clarity in a Midwestern watershed group. Environmental Management, 48, 825-834. Retrieved from

Ayres, J. S., & Silvis, A. H. (2010). Principles of working together: Developing relationships that support community development initiatives". In Introduction to Community Development (Vol. first, pp. 155-168). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Farris, E., McKinley, S., Ayres, J. S., Peters, J., & Brady, C. (2009). County-level Extension leadership: Understanding volunteer board member motivation. Journal of Extension, 47(5), 1-5. Retrieved from