Research & Engagement Grants Awarded

Five grants to receive funding

There were sixty-seven research and engagement pre-proposals submitted. Every submission was evaluated by at least three reviewers and the evaluations were used by a seven-member final review committee to select those to be invited to submit full proposals. Of the sixty-seven, eighteen pre-proposals received an invitation to submit a full proposal. The review committee evaluated the full proposals and the following five were selected for funding.

1. Entrepreneurship Based Economic Development

      • Robert Bernier, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Nebraska Business Development Center, Assistant Dean, College of Business Administration
      • Roni Reiter-Palmon, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Isaacson Professor Psychology
      • Erin Pleggenkuhle-Miles, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Assistant Professor, Management
      • Brian Mennecke, Associate Professor, Management Information Systems
      • Anthony Townsend, Iowa State University, Associate Professor, Management Information Systems
      • Don Macke, Director of Strategic Engagement, Center for Rural Entrepreneurship Rural Policy Research Institute
      • Sara McMillan, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Nebraska Business Development Center

Most of the recent entrepreneurial interest has centered on two types of entrepreneurs: 1) the high-tech and presumably high-growth entrepreneur and 2) the low-tech, derivative and subsistence-seeking micro-entrepreneur. This research is about the once strong and now forgotten middle: the small manufacturer, the value-added retailer, the regional distributor, the agricultural services firm and the like. Another way to view entrepreneurship is to view it as a game — one must be exposed to it, try it, learn the fundamentals and then commit to it. This study is to see if a predictive model, tested on small-business incubators, can be used to identify those tasks communities can perform in order to increase the likelihood that their members will choose entrepreneurship as a career. The result will be a specific model that economic developers can learn, implement and measure. Economic development boards and community leaders will have guidance on what actions to take and how to measure their economic development staffs.

 

2. Community Marketing: Taking a New Look at Rural Communities in the Great Plains

      • Cheryl Burkhart-Kriesel, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Extension Specialist
      • Randy Cantrell, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Rural Initiative and Extension
      • David Olson, South Dakota State University Extension
      • Kathleen Tweeten, North Dakota State University Extension

The goal of this project will be to determine if a series of focused community-wide conversations and activities, using a study circle process with key community stakeholders and their network, will result in an increase in community confidence, capacity building and behavior change toward marketing their community to new residents. The collaborative effort will bring together the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension, South Dakota State University Extension, North Dakota State University Extension, six rural communities in three Great Plains states, community stakeholders representing both public and private entities and Everyday Democracy, a national non-profit whose purpose is to help communities work through difficult issues using positive community dialogue. As a result of the project communities will: (1) develop and implement aspects of a marketing action plan that they create which incorporates realistic and achievable strategies to successfully market their community; and (2) increase their human capacity in using the study circle approach to address future community issues.

 

3. Communities Creating Their Own Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurial Communities Activation Process

      • Anita Hall, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Extension Educator
      • Connie Hancock, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Extension Educator
      • Phyllis Schoenholz, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Extension Educator
      • Nancy Eberle, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Extension Educator
      • Charlotte Narjes, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Center for Applied Rural Innovation
      • Diane Vigna, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Extension Educator

The Entrepreneurial Community Activation Process (ECAP) is a holistic facilitative process with the goals of attracting and retaining working age population and creating entrepreneurial environments that lead to community vitality. An extensive review of literature has identified a model of eight characteristics that consistently characterizes entrepreneurial communities. This project will test the model in eight communities contributing significantly to the research base on successful rural revitalization and to outreach efforts to support successful rural development. On-going research will determine whether the short-term goals are being achieved and if ECAP is an effective approach to creating an entrepreneurial environment. ECAP will initiate new dialogue with resource providers about progressive Nebraska rural entrepreneurial activity.

 

4. Rural Sourcing

      • Shawn Kaskie, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Director Center for Rural Research and Development
      • Paul Eurek President and Founder Xpanxion Technologies LLC
      • Shelley Zaborowski, Associate Executive Director Nebraska Alumni Association
      • Randy Cantrell, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, Rural Initiative and Extension
      • Dena Beck, REAP Loan Specialist & Senior Project Leader, Center for Rural Affairs
      • Mary Findlay, Research Analyst, Nebraska Department of Labor
      • Odee Ingersoll, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Nebraska Business Development Center & Nebraska Center for Business Transition

The concept of “rural sourcing” relates to existing and start-up companies strategically locating operations in rural areas to reduce labor costs and increase employee reliability. This project aims to expand on a successful “cross-sourcing” model used by an existing software company and modify it to recruit University of Nebraska Alumni back to rural Nebraska in targeted professional service occupations. The first phase of this project will build on existing research exploring the lifestyle expectations and career preferences of Alumni who have moved out of state. Additional case study research seeks to understand the process and motivation for Alumni who have moved back to rural Nebraska and are employed in these occupations. Data collected from phase one will direct the strategies of communication and education for Alumni who have opted in to receive information related to current job opening’s or assistance for starting or buying a business in rural areas.

 

5. Using Crowdlearning for Leadership Development in Rural Communities

      • Roni Reiter-Palmon, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Isaacson Professor Psychology
      • Gina Scott Ligon, University of Nebraska at Omaha, College of Business Administration
      • Douglas Derrick, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Assistant Professor of IT Innovation
      • Lynn Harland, University of Nebraska at Omaha, College of Business Administration
      • Gert-Jan de Vreede, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Durham Distinguished Professor of Interdisciplinary Informatics
      • Susan Jensen, University of Nebraska Kearney, College of Business & Technology
      • Robert Bernier, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Nebraska Business Development Center, College of Business Administration

Developing the next generation of business and civic leaders is critical for all communities; however, in rural Nebraska, this issue is of particular concern. The proposed project addresses the lack of rural leadership development by designing and implementing a virtual (crowdlearning) casebased leadership development program for rural Nebraska civic and business leaders. In addition to providing leadership development for a cadre of rural Nebraska civic and business leaders, this project will: (1) result in a collection of available case studies focusing on the challenges faced by rural Nebraska leaders, (2) help create connections between rural leaders across the state, and (3) offer new insight into best practices regarding collaborative leadership development for virtual groups.

Teaching & Engagement Grants Awarded

Six grants to receive funding

With an outstanding response to the Teaching and Engagement Development Grants Request for Proposals, each of the 33 submitted applications were evaluated by three reviewers. Those receiving the highest evaluations were forwarded to a final review team who, in consultation with NU Vice President Ronnie Green, selected the following proposals to receive funding.

 

1. Ecotourism and Agritourism Development in Nebraska

      • Lisa Pennisi, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Human Dimensions, School of Natural Resources
      • Nicole Wall, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, National Drought Mitigation Center
      • Michelle Kang, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Tourism Marketing
      • Tom Field, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Director Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program
      • Twyla Witt, Nebraska Tourism Commission, Tourism Development & Byways Consultant
      • Caleb Pollard, Valley County Economic Development & Ord Area Chamber of Commerce
      • Rick Edwards, Center for Great Plains Studies
      • Janell Anderson Ehrke, GROW Nebraska

This project aims to develop a course, to be taught in May, that will incorporate ecotourism, tourism marketing, entrepreneurship, business plans, visitor services and the Community Capitals Framework for community engagement. The long-term goal is to assist rural landowners and communities in increasing economic and community capacity by developing successful ecotourism ventures that enhance environmental sustainability while also educating and developing undergraduate students.

 

2. Engaging Nebraska, Impacting Communities, Transforming Students

      • Jeff Day, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, College of Architecture
      • Lindsey Bahe, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, College of Architecture
      • Bret Betnar, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, College of Architecture
      • Tim Hemsath, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, College of Architecture
      • Peter Hind, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, College of Architecture
      • Sharon Kuska, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, College of Architecture
      • David Karle, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, College of Architecture
      • Sarah Thomas Karle, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, College of Architecture
      • Yunwoo Nam, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, College of Architecture
      • Zhenghong Tang, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, College of Architecture

This project aims to establish the infrastructure for a robust service-learning program embedded in curricula. Engaging ten faculty from architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, and planning programs, the team proposes establishing a learning community that is faculty led and service-learning based. This learning community will spend the next two years transforming twelve existing courses, as well as developing new courses and programs, that engage students in service-learning projects across the state.

 

3. Juvenile Re-entry to Nebraska’s Rural Communities

      • Anne Hobbs, University of Nebraska Omaha, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice
      • Julie Campbell, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Department of Criminology
      • Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Youth Rehabilitation Centers

This project aims to extend traditional Nebraska Health and Human Service policy through broadening the academic paradigm and activating community engagement by matching college student mentors from rural communities who are attending the University of Nebraska with youth committed to the Youth Rehabilitation Centers in Geneva and Kearney, Nebraska.

 

4. Rural Community Serviceship Program 

      • Tom Field, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program
      • Reshell Ray, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Student Involvement
      • Linda Major, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Center for Civic Engagement
      • Linda Moody, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Center for Civic Engagement
      • Lindsay Hastings, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Nebraska Human Resources Institute
      • Milan Wall, Heartland Center for Leadership Development
      • Kurt Mantonya, Heartland Center for Leadership Development

This project aims to create a partnership to help students learn and intern with communities in a hybrid approach to service learning. The major elements will include the development of a summer course, followed by a summer serviceship, a reflection period, and then research. This program delivers an interdisciplinary partnership delivery system that focuses on issues identified by the community coupled with the infusion of innovative, entrepreneurial student teams tasked with building workable solutions in concert with university faculty and specialists alongside community leaders and mentors. The combination of discipline, community engagement, and leadership training/experience creates human capacity and opens the door for active recruitment of new graduates and young professionals into the fabric of a rural community.

 

5. The Rural Public Health Undergraduate Student Research Project

      • Patrik Johansson, University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Public Health, Rural Health Education Network
      • Sonja Russell, University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Public Health, Rural Health Education Network
      • Jill Mack, Chadron State College, Physical and Life Sciences
      • Kyle Ryan, Peru State, School of Education
      • Peggy Abels, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Health Sciences
      • David Peitz, Wayne State College, Chemistry

This project will address Nebraska’s rural public health professions workforce shortages by integrating teaching and professional service, in addition to reflective activities structured to link the service experience with the learning of the student. Community-based research projects will address identified rural public health priorities and needs in partnership with a community-based organization. In addition, the representation of undergraduate students will provide a forum for expression of rural youth voices, while finding solutions to existing public health issues in rural Nebraska. Having students conduct public health research with their communities will also further existing institutional goals toward institutionalization of community engagement and service learning.

 

6. Students Engaged in Economic Development of Rural Areas

      • Kaye Sorensen, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Department of Mathematics
      • Marc Albrecht, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Department of Biology

University of Nebraska at Kearney undergraduates will create and assemble rural development ideas that are collected by students and rural stakeholders.  Students will identify promising economic development opportunities and will present these novel and creative ideas to the communities with ideas for implementation.