Newton County Indiana | Nonprofit Research & Development

#Indiana interns Courtney & Riley did an awesome job prepping for a crowd of 170 at their seminar today! #RFIServiceship #lovewhereyoulive” - @rural_futures | June 8, 2017

Team #Indiana started Week 1 by assisting w/ a volunteerism seminar on multigenerational engagement by Dr. Ken Culp III. #RFIServiceship” - @rural_futures | June 8, 2017

Riley and Courtney conducted county-wide surveys of both nonprofits and community members.
Riley and Courtney stayed busy hosting booths at several Newton and Jasper county events.

“Riley & Courtney zoomed in from #Indiana to discuss how they marketed #nonprofit community development grants in #rural #NewtonCounty” - @rural_futures | August 10, 2017

Newton County Indiana | Nonprofit Research & Development

Riley Hickman and Courtney Feagans participated in a pilot program that set their 2017 Serviceship experience apart from the rest. Based in Newton County, Indiana, the team was funded by the Jasper Foundation, and traveled to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus to participate in Rural Futures Serviceship training.

When they returned to Indiana, their projects entailed surveying and interviewing Newton County residents and nonprofits, as well as assisting with day-to-day office responsibilities at the Foundation. Their goal was to identify ways for the Jasper Foundation, Inc. and the Newton County Community Foundation to allocate grant money and financial resources.

From their research, Courtney and Riley discovered that Newton County residents are open to progression; however, most remain wary of bringing a larger city culture to their rural communities. They also identified a desire of community members to get involved—but noted that most are unsure of how to go about it.

In their spare time, Courtney and Riley served Newton County by assisting elementary teachers in the area with technology. They taught the teachers how to use Weebly and helped them create classroom websites. The two also hosted a volunteer fair, and Courtney spent a week working with an organization called Teen Mission.

 

Thank you to the Indiana host team!

Brienne Hooker, Executive Director, Jasper Foundation, Inc. and Newton County Community Foundation

 

York | Community Marketing & LB840

 

York, Neb. | Community Marketing & LB840

University of Nebraska-Lincoln students Shelby Riggs and Emily Coffey spent their summer partnering with York County Development Corporation and the York Chamber of Commerce to complete various community marketing projects, as well as conduct research regarding the feasibility of implementing LB840 in the York community.

LB840, also known as the Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act, would authorize York to implement a sales or property tax for the purpose of creating a fund to offer loans and grants to local economic development projects. Emily and Shelby spent much of their summer conducting research and surveys to determine if and how to move forward with a city-wide vote on the LB840 issue in May. Their survey garnered nearly 400 responses. The team also reached out to all 69 Nebraska communities in which LB840 is currently implemented, asking them to share the details of their plans for the act, as well as successes and challenges that surfaced during the process of passing it. Their LB840 research was compiled in a database that will continue to be maintained and used by other communities interested in implementing the tax measure.

The two also assisted with a number of secondary community projects, one of which included planning and fundraising for the town’s annual Independence Day celebration—“Fireworks Frenzy” on July 3. They also helped coordinate the “Towers of York” community-wide art initiative by taking photos of each tower and using Photoshop and Hootsuite to edit each photo and publish it on the York Chamber’s social media platforms. Finally, Emily and Shelby met with several downtown business owners and assisted with York’s Downtown Revitalization project.

 

#RFIServiceship interns Emily & Shelby hit the ground running this week in #York. They took a brain break yesterday at @RedbeardsCoffee!” - @rural_futures | June 6, 2017

“The #YorkNE #RFIServiceship team is having a blast with the community. Emily golfed with the Young Professionals & @yorknechamber today!” - @rural_futures | June 16, 2017

#RFIServiceship intern Shelby opened a Contract Livestock Production Opportunities panel on Tuesday in #York! ” - @rural_futures | June 16, 2017

During June Shelby and Emily assisted with fund raising for an annual York community event that occurs on July 3, known as "Fireworks Frenzy." They distributed "star banks" in local businesses around town and checked in to empty them on a regular basis. 
Shelby prepares for her filmed interview with the RFI Communications Team during June check-in.

#RFIServiceship interns Emily & Shelby made another stop at @RedbeardsCoffee today on a mission to show the comms interns around #YorkNE!” - @rural_futures | June 22, 2017

#RFIServiceship Emily & Shelby interns sat in on @SenSasse's office hours to learn more about local issues & needs in #YorkNE.” - @rural_futures | June 27, 2017

#RFIServiceship interns Emily & Shelby went LIVE on @1049maxcountry in #YorkNE to discuss & promote @YorkNEDevCo's latest marketing survey!” - @rural_futures |  June 29, 2017

Leadership Engagement Director Kayla Schnuelle tagged a long for the July check-in. 
" hosts interns to teach students about the community! " - @kschnuelle | July 10

“Thank you, @AIMCareerlink for hosting #YorkESI17 and #RFIServiceship interns last week! They loved learning about start-ups and innovation!” - @rural_futures | July 18, 2017

“Our #YorkNE #RFIServiceship team helped represent @YorkNEDevCo at the governor's economic development summit last week!” - @rural_futures | July 19, 2017

“The RFI comms team is on the road again. Stay tuned for footage of all that the #RFIServiceship teams have accomplished for #rural! ” - @rural_futures | July 27, 2017

“Did the comms interns really stop in #YorkNE if the #RFIServiceship team didn't take them to @RedbeardsCoffee after an interview session?- @rural_futures | July 27, 2017

#RFIServiceship #YorkNE enjoyed grabbing coffee with these ladies in #BenedictNE!
‘They were incredible role models & wonderful company!’” - @rural_futures | August 1, 2017

"#YorkNE interns spent the day serving their community at the York County Fair, admiring the art and agriculture entries! #RFIServiceship ” - @rural_futures | August 4, 2017
“That's a wrap! #RFIServiceship interns presented final deliverables to the #YorkNE host team. We're excited to see the long-term impacts!” - @rural_futures | August 9, 2017
“Emily & Shelby developed a database tracking implantation of #LB840 for #YorkNE & communities across #Nebraska. #NUforNE” - @rural_futures | August 10, 2017

York Serviceship in the News

York News Times | June 13, 2017

Omaha World-Herald | June 13, 2017

Thank you to the York host team!

Madonna Mogul, Administrative Assistant, York Area Chamber of Commerce

Rhonda Veleba, York Area Chamber of Commerce

Lisa Hurley, Executive Director, Executive Managers, YCDC

Megan Burda, 4-H Youth Development, Extension Educator, Unit Leader, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension

Pat Hanrahan, Engineer, Nebraska Public Power District

Amy Kadavy, Eye Doctor, Eyecare Associates

Kelly Kadavy, Assistant Manager, Cornerstone Insurance

Jill Koch, Host Team Member

Amie Kopcho, Owner/Manager, Community Title Company

Tony North, Owner, York Printing Co.

Don Swanson, Chief Financial Officer, CVA

 

North Platte | Career Readiness & Workforce Retention

 

North Platte, Neb. | Career Readiness & Workforce Retention

University of Nebraska-Lincoln students Sydni Lienemann and Trey Mogensen were based in North Platte this summer. Their project was designed to result in a career readiness and workforce retention plan for the city’s current and upcoming workforce. Working closely with North Platte Public Schools (NPPS), Trey and Sydney spent the first half of their serviceships conducting survey research and interviewing community leaders in education and career development.

Among those leaders are NPPS Curriculum Director Vikki Carlson, NPPS superintendent Dr. Ron Hanson and Serviceship host Leland Poppe. All were instrumental in identifying ways to ensure that entrepreneurship and vocational opportunities are integral parts of public education for North Platte high school students.

The second piece of their serviceship involved conveying their findings to education professionals in order to create and develop tools able to be used by both teachers and students.

Aside from their intensive career readiness and workforce retention project, Sydni and Trey became heavily involved with the local Rotary chapter, NebraskaLand Days, the NE150 traveling Children’s Museum and the local Young Professionals group. They were also able to work with a few local businesses on small projects, as well as assist the city in some marketing campaigns.

 

“Summer Interns Sydni & Trey kick off #Workforce Recruitment/Readiness project to the Chamber/DEVCO Board #GrowNP #workNP #RFIServiceship” - @NPChamber | June 16

Sydni provides a brief introduction to the team's progress report with North Platte Public Schools Curriculum Director Vikki Carlson.
Sydni listens while Trey shares a few of the team's thoughts on career readiness and entrepreneurship programs for high school students. 
“Team #NorthPlatte is making big strides for career readiness this week with the help of @nppsd admin & community leaders! #RFIServiceship” - @rural_futures | June 20, 2017
“Team #NorthPlatte is making big strides for career readiness this week with the help of @nppsd admin & community leaders! #RFIServiceship” - @rural_futures | June 20, 2017
Leland Poppe meets Sydni and Trey at Sip Coffee and Wine Bar for smoothies and a quick afternoon strategy session.

#RFIServiceship interns Trey & Sydni had a great time learning about aviation with @trego_dugan on Wednesday! - @rural_futures | June 23, 2017

#RFIServiceship interns Trey & Sydni had a great time learning about aviation with @trego_dugan on Wednesday! ” - @rural_futures | June 23, 2017
#NorthPlatteNE #RFIServiceship presented the results of their career education & retention study today! Well done, Sydni & Trey! ” - @rural_futures | August 2, 2017
“Thanks to #NorthPlatteNE for hosting Trey and Sydni as part of #RFIServiceship - your amazing host team made the experience!” - @kschnuelle | August 4, 2017

“Trey & Sydni spent summer building relationships & IDing ways to reveal opportunity, entrepreneurship to @nppsd students. #RFIServiceship” - @rural_futures | August 10, 2017

North Platte Serviceship in the News:

Omaha World-Herald | June 13, 2017

The North Platte Telegraph | June 28, 2017

Thank you to the North Platte host team!

Megan McGown, Vice President of Economic Development & Director of Communications Marketing, Commerce & Development Corporation

Vikki Carlson, Principal, Adams Middle School

James Ayres, Principal, North Platte Public Schools

Dr. Ron Hanson, Superintendent, North Platte Public Schools

Margo Hirschfeld, Host Team Member

Fiona Libsack, Vice President of Marketing & Education, Great Plains Health

Leland Poppe, Business Banker, Great Western Bank

 

West Point | Marketing Parks & Recreation

 

West Point, Neb. | Marketing Parks & Recreation

UNL student Amber Ross and UNL grad Madeleine Schwinghammer spent their summer working with the Parks and Recreation Department in West Point, Nebraska. Their main roles entailed conducting research to determine the gaps and needs for West Point parks, as well as marketing the plans they helped develop to the community.

The first thing the pair did was create a two-part survey. First, their survey identified preferences of each generation living in the community. Second, it asked community members to prioritize their preferences. This suggested to city officials the amount of urgency required behind each potential project. Amber and Madeleine also researched the cost of funding the requested projects.

A couple of the projects the team researched and presented about included updates for the community’s pool, city parks and public restrooms. Amber and Madeleine also conducted a needs assessment for citywide parks and recreation for the West Point Chamber of Commerce, which they presented to their host team at the end of their serviceship.

In addition to community marketing and parks and rec needs evaluation, Amber and Madeleine spent dozens of hours volunteering, planning community events, designing a leadership class and even assisting with the town’s plan to combat the Emerald Ash Borer. Program director Kayla Schnuelle called the 2017 West Point Serviceship project a great example of interns using University of Nebraska connections and resources to problem solve in a host community.

 

@chriskrack thanks for hosting the @rural_futures Serviceship interns this summer! Looks like they are having a great experience already!” - @kschnuelle | June 5, 2017

Last week the #WestPoint team spent a morning helping with the #BRAN Snack Shop hosted by the Trails and Pathways Group! #RFIServiceship” - @rural_futures | June 13, 2017

During the first half of their serviceship, Amber and Madeleine were interviewed by 840 KTIC Radio about their work with city Parks and Rec. 

#WestPointNE #RFIServiceship interns Amber & Madeleine checked in from the Elkhorn River where they spent time w/ the Cuming County YPs! ” - @rural_futures | June 30, 2017

#RFIServiceship interns in #WestPointNE are putting the finishing touches on their Parks & Rec assessment this week!” - @rural_futures | July 6, 2017

“The #WestPoint team is attending the Northeast Nebraska Economic Development Annual Meeting today! #RFIServiceship” - @aross397 | July 11, 2017
Madeleine and Amber working intently in their office space located within the West Point Chamber of Commerce.

#WestPointNE #RFIServiceship interns Madeleine & Amber attended a chamber coffee and ribbon cutting ceremony this morning!” - @rural_futures | July 14, 2017

During a coffee and ribbon-cutting event, Madeleine and Amber mingle with Bonny Emanuel, Assistant Administrator to the West Point Chamber.

Sights and Sounds in West Point was a hit last night! Thanks to all the sponsors and performers! #WestPoint” - @aross397 | August 8, 2017

Madeleine & Amber delivered a research-based Parks & Recreation assessment to #WestPointNE, developed #branding based on #community values” - @rural_futures | August 10, 2017

West Point Serviceship in the News

KTIC Radio | June 7, 2017

West Point News | June 8, 2017

107.9 the Bull | July 28, 2017

KTIC Radio | August 8, 2017

KTIC Radio | August 8, 2017

Thank you to the West Point host team!

Tina Biteghe Bi Ndong, Director, West Point Chamber of Commerce

Chris Kreikemeier, Manager, Nielsen Community Center

Jen Barragan, Charter West Bank

Jeremy Borchers, Knights of Columbus

Kelly Gentrup, Executive Director, Cuming County Economic Development

Alex Norton, Administrator, Coming County Roads & Zoning Department

Dave Wimmer, Chairman, Park Board Member (Retired)

 

McCook | THETA Camp

 

McCook, Neb. | THETA Camp

University of Nebraska at Kearney exercise science majors Tyan Boyer and Collin Fleecs spent their summer running THETA Camp––which stands for “Teaching Health, Exercise, Technology and Aquaponics.”

THETA Camp was designed to educate elementary and middle school students about the importance of health and wellness as well as sustainable agriculture. The camp also explored technology and gave students a better idea of nutrition and health-related career fields. THETA Camp was developed as a part of an RFI Competitive Award grant exploring rural obesity and health awareness. The camp’s curriculum was co-written by UNK Professors Greg Brown and Nate Bickford.

Throughout THETA Camp, Tyan and Collin conducted surveys to ensure their students were retaining the information they learned each morning. Ultimately, they say, the goal was to provide each child with information he or she could use to make smart, nutritional decisions for years to come.

Tyan and Collin led THETA Camp each morning from 8 a.m. until noon and spent the remainder of their day working on community development projects or job shadowing at McCook Community Hospital. Throughout the pair’s weekly eight-hour job shadows at McCook Community Hospital, Tyan and Collin were able to learn more about their own future careers in the health field, as well as meet with several members of the McCook community to discuss the success of THETA Camp.

 

Collin engages with the THETA Camp McCook students during an ice-breaker conversation activity in the classroom. 
THETA Camp McCook might be an educational experience, but Tyan and the students are rarely short of laughs.

“Collin and Tyan on 96.1 KICX with Rich Barnett! #RFIServiceship” -  @THETA_McCook  | June 7, 2017

Collin and Tyan lead their THETA Camp McCook students in an outdoor running exercise to get the blood pumping before a couple hours of classroom instruction on June check-in day. 
.@rural_futures Great first week of camp! Kids are wonderful to work with and have a passion for learning! #RFIServiceship” - @THETA_Mccook | June 22, 2017
.@rural_futures Great first week of camp! Kids are wonderful to work with and have a passion for learning! #RFIServiceship” - @THETA_Mccook | June 22, 2017
" interns Collin & Tyan discuss the importance of social health at " - @rural_futures | June 20, 2017</em
On July 13, 2017, RFI Leadership Engagement Director Kayla Schnuelle checked in with Tyan and Collin and a few of their THETA students. She was accompanied by Greg Brown, a UNK faculty member, principal investigator and curriculum co-writer, for the THETA Camp McCook research project.
UNK Professor and THETA Camp Curriculum co-writer Greg Brown chats with THETA Camp McCook about the future of the camp.
When Collin and Tyan aren't leading THETA Camp or participating in other community engagement activities, they were often exploring their own future careers in the field of health, exercise and nutrition at McCook Community Hospital. 
During a fun lunch time intermission on final presentation day, Collin nominated Tyan for the prestigious "Most Likely to be Called Collin by a 10-year-old" Award.

“Collin & Tyan discuss successes & takeaways for elementary students learning #health, #exercise, #tech, #aquaponics at Camp @THETA_McCook” - @rural_futures | August 10, 2017

McCook Serviceship in the News

McCook Gazette | June 7, 2017

UNK News | June 7, 2017

Omaha World-Herald | June 13, 2017

McCook Gazette | June 13, 2017

NTV News | July 12, 2017

Thank you to the McCook host team!

Andrew Ambriz, Director, McCook Economic Development

Sarah Wolford, Community Outreach & Wellness Coordinator, McCook Community Hospital

Matt Sehnert, Owner, Sehnert’s Bakery

Denise Grey, Southwest Nebraska Public Health Department

Ronda Graff, Coordinator, McCook Community Foundation

 

What Meal Planning Can Do For You — And Nebraska

By Bradley Averill, Nebraska Extension Educator and CYN Steering Team Member

 

Nebraska Extension helps Nebraskans enhance their lives through research-based education. Food, Nutrition and Health include one of Nebraska Extension’s focus areas for educational programming. Delivering research and evidence based programming can have a significant impact on the health and well being for the people of Nebraska.

As an Extension Educator for Food, Nutrition and Health, my job is to increase the nutritional and physical literacy of Nebraskans. Using formal elements from my education—B.S. in Physical Education from Grand Valley State University and M.A. in Physical Education from the University of South Florida—and research from the University of Nebraska, it is my job to provide the most up-to-date information on how exercise and improved nutrition can improve the quality of your life.

Nebraska’s current obesity rate sits at 31%—14th highest obesity rate in the United States. As the chart below outlines, Millennials represent a lower obesity rate than other age groups.

Trust for America's Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The State of Obesity 2016 [PDF]. Washington D.C. 2016.

 

Before arranging a victory parade for having lower obesity rates than the other age groups, you might want to take another look at the chart to see your future. Obesity rates double between the ages of 26-44. There are many factors that could contribute to an increase in obesity as we age. Improved meal planning practices can have an significant impact on obesity rates, regardless of your age.

 

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
– Benjamin Franklin

 

Properly planned meal preparation can help both your waistline and your budget. Meal preparation means:

  • Food inventory
  • Recipe research
  • Grocery shopping
  • Cooking
  • Meal portioning
  • Storage

Most families do the cooking, portioning and storage on a daily basis, but with proper planning most of the cooking that you do all week long can be done in one day. Saving money, saving time, portion control and attaining fitness goals can all be achieved by preparing meals ahead of time.

By preparing your meals in advance, you are less likely to spend money outside of the home. Fewer trips to fast food locations or convenience stores can save you hundreds of dollars each year. A carefully thought out grocery list also keeps you from purchasing impulse foods that are not healthy or cost effective. Only purchasing food you need for the week will also save you from food waste.

 


 

  1. https://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/usda_food_plans_cost_of_food/CostofFoodJul2014.pdf
  2. Bloom, American Wasteland, 187. The author reports a 15 percent loss in homes, with potentially an additional 10 percent loss in liquid products.

 


 

Not only does meal preparation save you money, but cooking your meals for the entire week in one day is a time saver. Two or three hours spent cooking and preparing on a Sunday, can alleviate the need to cook a meal the rest of the week. With this meal preparation plan, fixing nightly meals will only require you to reheat meals that have already been cooked. This allows more time to spend with your family, hit the gym or just relax instead of rushing home from work to prepare a meal during the week.

When you plan out and prepare your meals ahead of time, you take control of how much food you are consuming during each meal. It is important to remember that each of our bodies require different amounts of food and nutrients. For this reason, make sure that your portions are rationed properly for each member of your family. To find out how many calories you should be consuming every day, consult your physician.

Proper nutrition is just as important to a healthy lifestyle as exercise. There is an old saying that states, “abs are made in the kitchen.” There is a lot of truth to this phrase. Your body requires healthy food for endurance, strength and weight loss. With your meals properly planned and portioned, it is easier to include foods that give you energy (whole grains), muscle building proteins (lean meats and nuts) and vitamins and minerals (fruits and vegetables).

To prevent food waste and to test the feasibility of weekly food planning for your family, it may be best to cook twice per week instead of once per week initially. This will help with the identification of proper food storage needs, as well as the nutritional needs of your family.

I would love to hear how your family prepares meals. Do you go grocery shopping once per month or once per week? Do you prepare each meal individually every day? Share your meal preparation ideas with your fellow CYNers on Facebook or Twitter.

 


 

Bradley Averill

Bradley Averill

Food, Nutrition, and Health Educator | Nebraska Extension

Bradley Averill is the University of Nebraska Extension Educator for Food, Nutrition, and Health. He grew up in Holt, Michigan, and currently resides in Neligh, Neb. He pursued his undergraduate degree at Grand Valley State University and attended graduate school at the University of South Florida. He believes that Connecting Young Nebraskans (CYN) can bring together young talents from all across the state and allow young professionals to network with peers of different backgrounds.

 


 

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The Power of Positivity and Volunteerism

Chelsea_Feature

Q&A with Chelsea Luthy, Central Nebraska Community Development Specialist, and CYN Steering Team Member

 

Why are you passionate about volunteerism?

Cody is a village of about 150 people, but it’s so much more than that. I have a soft spot for the people from my hometown and surrounding areas, because they collectively taught me throughout my life that I can make a difference even if it is on a small scale. Overall, my community has given and taught me so much that I feel the need to try to show my gratitude by volunteering as best as I can.

This rural lifestyle is the key reason we moved back after college, and it is how I want to raise my children. Two of my goals are to teach AND show them that we can make a difference.

 

Why is positivity so important in both volunteerism and volunteer management?

Positivity is a crucial factor in preventing burnout, which is something we want to avoid. It seems like the same volunteers are enlisted over and over again, while others are sometimes missed altogether—which can contribute to burnout. In my opinion, leaders of the volunteer efforts have to keep a positive attitude and be understanding of the volunteers’ limitations, like time and energy, and always keep the end goal in mind. These characteristics will trickle down to other volunteers and raise moral.

 

Based on your experiences, how can age affect the perspective of volunteers?

Cody is well-known for its student-run straw bale grocery store the Circle C Market. (Check it out if you haven’t already!) I was an enthusiastic high school youth working on the planning process for the grocery store. Then, after moving back home, I was the Executive Director of a non-profit called Cowboy GRIT, working on a new project from scratch. Now, I work in multiple communities across 14 counties with numerous volunteers and collaborations.

I’ve worked with volunteers of all ages, and what I’ve learned is that nothing keeps you excited quite the same as having child-like enthusiasm, staying focused with a big picture always in the front of your mind and always working to stay positive.

 

How can one stay positive and motivate others?

For me, the best ways to stay positive are by de-stressing, disconnecting and remembering the big picture. I like to work out, knit, play with my kids and go dancing! I keep my mind occupied with family things to de-stress.

Another way I can stay positive is to disconnect from work on weekends as much as I can to relax.

The final way is to always remember the big picture or the end result, instead of getting caught up in the means of getting there. Motivating others is best achieved through excitement, leadership and communication. Fold those three together for a great start.

 

Why is volunteerism important for rural Nebraska?

Volunteering and working together are the future for rural Nebraska. No one can accomplish anything great by themselves. Instead we have to work together and learn from each other. That’s how we are going to get or keep our communities moving forward. No one outside a community can create change and progress like catalysts inside a community can. Insiders already have the relationships in place to rock ‘n roll! Your input also goes further if you have boots on the ground in a project.

 

What would you say to youth or adults who want to get involved in their communities but doesn’t know how?

The best piece of advice I know is to ask. Ask community and civic groups, government bodies, schools, parents, co-workers, friends or mentors what they believe should be improved. Everyone has an opinion on something. Gather ideas. Take one that interests you or a topic you are passionate about and expand on it. Perhaps there is someone else who shares your passion, and you can move forward together. This is the best place to start.

Undoubtedly, there will be obstacles and roadblocks, but they don’t have to stall you. I applaud you for having courage and grit. Remember that volunteering with positivity can make a difference for both you and your community, and that the Connecting Young Nebraskans community is always available for support!

 


 

Chelsea Luthy

Chelsea Luthy

Community Development Specialist | Central Nebraska Economic Development District
Join Chelsea on LinkedIn

Chelsea Luthy is the Community Development Specialist for Central Nebraska Economic Development District (CNEDD). She grew up in Cody, Neb., and graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She hopes to share her love for community improvement through Connecting Young Nebraskans (CYN) and influence her peers to continue making a difference in our work. She believes that CYN is about motivating our young people, facilitating progress within our local community and how that creates additional impacts, and a way to bounce ideas off other like-minded leaders all for the betterment of our state.

 


 

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3 Ps of Successful Community & Economic Development: Purpose, Perseverance & Positivity

Megan_Feature

By Megan McGown, North Platte Area Chamber & Development Corp. VP of Economic Development & Marketing
I have served in the realm of economic and community development in our fine state for most of my adult life. While it has been my paid gig these past 10 years, I have come to realize that it takes everyone in the community to be successful—not just those of us who serve in paid positions. It takes people from all walks of life, every age demographic, varying ethnicities, men, women and children. Sound cliché? Maybe, but imagine everyone in your community being on the same page, promoting the same great things about your town. Young people hearing about those great things and picturing themselves living in and raising their family in their hometown – your town. That’s a cliché I can live with any day of the week.

I spent most of my economic development career working in Sidney for both the Chamber of Commerce as well as a position with the city. Two years ago, my family and I relocated, and I currently serve as the Vice President of Economic Development and Marketing for the North Platte Chamber & Development Corporation.

I grew up in a very rural area – aka: the middle of the Sandhills – and currently reside in the Village of Brady, population 432. In spite of the varying differences amongst the places that I have lived, I have noticed recurring themes among the most successful community and economic development programs: Purposefulness, Perseverance and Positivity.

Purpose

This one should go without saying, but I’m going to talk about it anyway, because not all development is good development, and not every project will fit in every community. Purpose requires extensive research, knowing your community and keeping up-to-date on trends.

• Look at the strengths of your community in terms of location, demographics, infrastructure, workforce characteristics and training programs.
• Identify cluster and supply chain opportunities.
• Talk with residents and stakeholders about their vision, needs and wants (but be careful with that last one).

Being able to see the big picture is crucial. Do the ideas on the list make sense for your community? Are they feasible? What would it take to make them feasible? Are your local incentive programs aligned with your goals? Being purposeful may not save time, but it has a much higher chance of producing a successful outcome.

Perseverance

There is a lot of trial and error in community and economic development. Not everything is going to work the first time. The fact is that economic developers work just as hard on the projects that never materialize as they do the ones that become successful. We go all-in on each RFP that the state sends us (provided it meets the Purposeful test). You never know when you will hit a home run. The ability to persevere in your efforts and adapt to new circumstances will set successful communities and programs apart.

Positivity

We all know there is power in positive thinking, but I’m sure you’re thinking: “What does that have to do with economic development?” Positivity and negativity are both contagious—which would you rather catch?

In my college dorm room, my roommate and I made our own wallpaper border that repeated the phrase, “the power of positive thinking,” over and over all around the room. The phrase was a daily reminder to look on the bright side, find the silver lining—you name the cliché. But it helped.

This same mentality carries into the realm of economic and community development. Negativity kills projects before they start. Whether that is the “coffee shop talk,” a negative political climate or some other form of negativity, it can derail various aspects of the process.

Now, I could definitely add more Ps to my list: partnerships, planning, passion, patience, etc. But I have to leave something for my next post!

 


 

How do you or can you implement today’s three Ps in the community and economic development of your town?

How have you gotten involved in your community’s development efforts?

 


 

Megan McGown

Megan McGown

VP of Economic Development & Marketing | North Platte Area Chamber & Development Corp.
Join Megan on LinkedIn
and Twitter

Megan has been in the field of economic development for more than 10 years. She holds a Master’s Degree in Organization Management emphasizing economic development and entrepreneurship. She currently serves as the Vice President of Economic Development and Marketing for the North Platte Area Chamber and Development Corporation.

In addition to economic development, Megan has a passion for downtown revitalization and served as the director of a local Main Street Program for 10 years, earning the community national accreditation the majority of those years. She is a mom of two daughters, wife to a school superintendent and avid runner/wellness nut.

 


 

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Millennial Game Changers: A Part of Something Bigger

GameChanger

 

By Brittnay Dawson, Norfolk Area Chamber Director of Talent Development & Recruitment

We hear it all the time. The talk about specific individuals doing momentous things that are challenging and inspire the way we live and think—and in a really big way.

Millennials often get a bad rap for challenging the status quo on not only how we live, but also in the workplace. This generation, now the largest generation in the workforce, has decided to not just play the game, but change the way the game is played.

Traditionalists may have difficulty adjusting to this shift in mindset, but no matter if you prefer to keep things the way they once were or you are embracing this new mentality, these “game changers” are strong leaders and can bring immense value to your organization.

What defines a game changer? Here are a few commonalities you often will find:

 

They have the heart of a lion.

Game changers are fearless and exceptionally courageous. They often have a strong personality and are the driving force within their organizations. They are not afraid to take risks or tackle challenges head on, because on the other side of fear is freedom and opportunity. This mentality helps them break down barriers in communities and in the workplace, opening up new possibilities in creating change.

 

They have their head in the game.

Like the mindset of an athlete, game changers know that working toward their vision and goals will require continuous training. This training is not only with their body, but also with their mind. They create a strategy toward achieving goals within their long-term vision, but also adapt to change when necessary because their focus is strong. Every day they are working on their strong game, gaining new skills and knowledge, and becoming better players.

 

They are really good at failing.

A true game changer knows there is much to be gained from failure. Failure not only creates new opportunities to grow, but it also allows new levels of creativity and teaches how to overcome adversity. Being really good at failing means seeing the bigger picture and practicing resilience and perseverance. Game changers are open to the journey, because in those critical ¬moments often is where the biggest opportunities exist to think big and reach maximum potential.

 

They overcome obstacles.

In both life and business, there will always be roadblocks to some degree. A game changer does not give up and just turn back around. They look for new paths to get to their destination, or in some cases, pave their own way. They understand the depth of certain obstacles is based on their own perception, but also to accept those that are outside of their own control. Game changers become excellent problem-solvers in adverse situations and use big thinking for out-of-the-box solutions.

 

They don’t make excuses.

Game changers are very self-aware and willing to accept responsibility for their actions and situations. They are committed to their decisions, but do not blame others when they do not receive their desired results. Having the ability to admit mistakes and make the necessary changes can help their teams and organizations progress toward their goals.

 

They are a part of something bigger.

Many people desire to have meaning and purpose in their lives and work. Game changers are the living example of this mentality. They work hard every day to be a part of something big, creating a force far bigger than they could achieve by themselves. They know the power of being engaged in their work, life and community. What they do and say does matter, and it does have impact. They are willing to step up to the plate for the greater good.

Overall, game changers are the people who are natural leaders, avid problem-solvers, and they inspire meaningful change. They are innovators and creators, and often see things that others do not. They are what can take organizations from ordinary to exceptional, and are continually shaping a new reality and way of living in this world.

Millennial game changers take it one step further, as they also grew up with a new wave of technological advancements and diversity acceptance. More than ever, this generation is motivated to build powerful movements, and they have the resources to help them spread their message and ideas.

 


 

In what ways are you a game changer? Share with us some actionable steps you are taking to change the game in your life or place of work.

 


 

Brittany Dawson

Brittnay Dawson

Director of Talent Development & Recruitment | Norfolk Area Chamber of Commerce
Connect with Norfolk Now on Facebook & Instagram.

Brittnay Dawson attended the University of Nebraska–Lincoln where she received her BA in Psychology, focusing on advertising and public relations. Following graduation, she launched her own photography and marketing business in Destin, Florida, working with small businesses on their image branding and digital marketing content. Brittnay has worked for national clients including the New Balance line for Heidi Klum (HKNB) and Rachele Brooke Smith. She is currently a monthly contributor to JMG Lifestyle, a millennials and entrepreneurs resource magazine.

Back in Nebraska, Brittnay is the Director of Talent Development & Recruitment for the Norfolk Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Program Director for Norfolk Now where she works to attract other young professionals and families to the Norfolk area.

 

 


 

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Hosting RFI Serviceship

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By Tina Biteghe Bi Ndong, West Point Chamber of Commerce
This summer the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska partnered with 31 organizations to send 10 student interns into rural communities for nine-week “serviceships,” or service internships. Projects the students worked on varied greatly depending on the needs of each host community; however, the ultimate goal of each serviceship was to make a positive, quantifiable impact for rural.

Tina Biteghe Bi Ndong served on the West Point, Neb., host team. For more information about the 2017 West Point Serviceship, check out Amber and Madeleine’s story.

 

How did the Serviceship students’ work help you achieve your strategic goals for the future of your community?

Two of our main goals were related to our recent influx of young families that have moved to West Point. The work done through the Serviceship project created a foundation for programs that will hopefully engage, retain and recruit additional young professionals and their families.

 

How did the University of Nebraska contribute to your community’s goals through this program?

They offered support for our community branding goal. We tapped into the Engler Entrepreneurship program for a project outside of the outlined goals. We are also looking to a Nebraska Extension program as a partner for our proposed leadership program.

 

Shortly after the interns arrived in West Point, we hosted a BRAN Snack Shop.

 

Why do you think it is important for communities to give students this experience?

Madeleine and Amber had been involved in community and organizational projects through school and other organizations prior to their Serviceship, but every community functions differently. We were able to share how West Point approaches projects and goals, and hopefully they can use those experiences in the future as they pursue personal and professional goals.

 

How did hosting RFI Serviceship students bring value to the West Point Chamber?

Utilizing the RFI Serviceship program versus hiring a consultant group, first and foremost, reduced the cost of achieving our goals, but secondly gave greater value to the results. The students were engaged in the community, so I feel that they had greater, and more candid, conversations with area residents and business owners.

A byproduct of having the students working with the West Point Chamber was the positive PR that our office received. They were constantly doing something in the community, which gained a lot of local media attention. We are constantly working on community projects, but they brought another level of engagement to the projects.

 

How did being on the RFI Host Team develop you as a young professional?

Being a part of the host team, I felt it was important not only to focus on the goals that were outlined in our application, but to make sure that the students were able to really connect with our community in a very short amount of time. It was a good reminder that we need to give other “newbies” that same attention and share our passion for West Point with everyone.

 

Amber had a great time bonding with my kiddos. This is them at the Sights & Sounds festival––an event they hosted in West Point right before they left at the end of their serviceship.

 

 


 

Tina Biteghe Bi Ndong

Executive Director | West Point Chamber of Commerce

I was born in Iowa, moved to Nebraska as an elementary student, and spent many childhood summers in Minnesota. I consider myself a Midwestern girl with Midwestern values. When I am not busy connecting businesses, people and resources—which are interchangeable on any given day—I enjoy traveling and spending time with my husband and our children doing home and craft projects.

 

 


 

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