Nakidde to Help Make Community and Local Food Data More Accessible

New food systems data analyst knows how to interpret data for the public

March 28, 2024, 12:37 pm | Courtney Long

Lighton Nakidde.AMES, Iowa – Understanding data can sometimes seem a bit daunting at first, but with today’s data visualization tools, even the most complex set of numbers can be made accessible.

Lighton Nakidde, the new food systems data analyst with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, knows how to analyze data and organize it in ways that people can understand and interpret.

Her work includes using GIS technology and mapping tools to assist local food extension programs within Farm, Food and Enterprise Development, as well as Community and Economic Development.

“Different programs require a different type of analysis and the tools I’m using allow for better visualization of the information that is being communicated,” said Nakidde. “With the food systems team and our community projects, we’re trying to show where food is located and where it can be sourced locally.”

“We’re excited to have Lighton as an addition to our team,” said Courtney Long, program manager for Farm, Food and Enterprise Development with ISU Extension and Outreach. “Her expertise and ability to both visualize data and help aggregate and analyze data will support our team's efforts in sharing useful information for communities to make decisions related to their efforts in food systems and community development.”

Nakidde earned her bachelor’s degree in Uganda, in construction engineering, and she earned her master’s from Iowa State, in Community and Regional Planning.

“I’m excited for the work that extension and outreach is doing and I look forward to being a part of the team,” she said.

Nakidde previously held a position as a construction engineer, but said that job did not always allow her to see the bigger picture of her work.

“With data analysis, we can look at a project, a city or a community as a whole and show its resources visually,” she said.

While she spends a lot of time working with numbers and computer programs, Nakidde is also fond of the outdoors. She and her husband, Paul, enjoy biking on Iowa trails and camping. She also grows a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Lighton Nakidde can be reached at 515-294-8397 or

Shareable photo: Lighton Nakidde.

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