A longtime Congressional staffer has made his way to USDA as the new Missouri state director for Rural Development. USDA announced Monday that Kyle Wilkens has assumed the role. A native of Lafayette County east of Kansas City, Wilkens has worked in congressional offices since 2002, first on the staff of Ike Skelton before moving to Emanuel Cleaver’s office in 2012. Wilkens was most recently Cleaver’s director of rural policy. In a statement, Cleaver says that Wilkens has been an invaluable member of his staff, and that Wilkens’ decades of experience dealing with the challenges facing rural Missourians will allow him to flourish in the new role. Wilkens is a graduate of Missouri State University.