May 21, 2018

Today, through RFI Student Serviceship, 11 Nebraska communities are welcoming 24 students from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, University of Nebraska–Lincoln and University of Nebraska at Omaha as well as Peru State College to live, work and serve for 10 weeks this summer.

The students participating in this year’s experience come from hometowns large and small — from Crofton, Neb., town of approximately 800, to Chennai, India, population 7 million. Students’ areas of study include agribusiness, disease and human health, exercise science, hospitality, political science, public administration and more. They also range from freshmen to graduate students, and each student pair was created to intentionally connect complementary skill sets and varying backgrounds and experiences.

In terms of communities and projects, students will problem-solve and create opportunities within the areas of housing, community recruitment, community planning, welcoming, economic development and more. They will participate and lead projects that will include strategic planning, event planning, assessment creation and analysis, visioning and marketing.

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Overview Page »

May 24, 2018

Rural community leaders from across Nebraska are working with University faculty, students and Nebraska Extension educators to define rural prosperity and create strategies for rural communities across the country to reach their goals. Funded by the Rural Futures Institute in 2016, the project is creating action through the work of dedicated community members, committed NU faculty and energized NU students.

This is just one of many examples of projects RFI is proud to have supported that resulted in true collaboration across Nebraska, and provides insights for rural communities across the country. We look forward to sharing the best practices that come forward out of this work.

More information about this project »

All 50 RFI-funded research and teaching projects »

May 25, 2018

Starting this week, 11 communities throughout Nebraska welcomed 24 students from University of Nebraska at Kearney, University of Nebraska at Omaha, University of Nebraska–Lincoln and Peru State College to work on strategic, future-focused projects, serve and live through the RFI Student Serviceship program.

Throughout the summer, the serviceship teams will share reflections and updates on their projects biweekly through RFI’s “This Week In Serviceship!” coverage. This week’s updates come from serviceship teams in Alliance, McCook, Neligh, and Seward, Neb., as well as the THETA camp team in McCook, Neb.!

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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

 

Shrinking The Rural Leadership Gap

102816_CYN295

 

From Kayla Schnuelle, Leadership Engagement Director & Network Weaver

 

What happens when the leaders in your community retire, move or step down? Is there a leadership succession plan happening in your community? Is the next generation of leaders being mentored?

Leadership is important and even critical for long-term success and vitality of rural communities. In my experience, leadership tends to be the major factor that distinguishes thriving rural places from those that are lagging behind.

Kayla-graph

As we look deeper, it becomes apparent that the transfer of leadership from one generation to the next may be another important factor and could serve as a powerful tool for communities.

The rural leadership gap is real and is amplified because of outmigration of the millennials. According to a research published in the Cornhusker Economics, some young adults, especially young families, are looking to relocate from metro areas to nonmetro areas. They want to live in family-friendly communities to raise their children. They also need a way to support themselves, so employment opportunities are critical.

In most rural communities, the majority of leadership positions — elected service and volunteer — are held by the oldest two generations in the communities. The 2012 Nebraska Rural Poll showed that of young Nebraskans (under the age of 36) that took the poll, only 8 percent held elected offices and less than one-third held formal leadership roles. This is not a new phenomenon. It has happened for decades, but the unique part of this trend is that the lack of leadership transfer is now coupled with the huge transfer of wealth occurrence.

The Nebraska Community Foundation researched the transfer of wealth in Nebraska, predicting that during the next 50 years, more than $602 billion will be transferred from one generation to the next. This will be the largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in our state’s history.

102816_CYN153

The World War II and Baby Boomer generation own more private wealth than any other generations, with more than $600 billion in wealth. This wealth may be held in real estate, securities, retirement accounts and other assets. Some will go to taxes while most will go to heirs. Due to outmigration, many of those heirs no longer live where the wealth was built and may no longer feel connected to those places. Once wealth leaves these communities, the opportunity for give-back becomes more and more unlikely. (The Nebraska Community Foundation, 2011 Transfer of Wealth Study Summary Report, 2012.)

So, what happens when the transfer of wealth is accompanied by a gap in the transfer of leadership? People will retire and pass on their wealth and leadership positions, but what happens when the next wave of leaders are unprepared and/or nonexistent?

According to the 2015 American Community Survey, in Nebraska’s 86 most rural counties, there is a population dip between ages 20-49 (Figure 1). It is significant in most instances. Many people are not surprised by this. However, when you think about the dip in population, the transfer of wealth and the transfer of leadership brings a significant challenge.

What is the solution? There are no specific answers, but I believe that rural leadership needs to start and continue a culture of ‘giving back to the community.’ This happens with service, financial gifting and becoming a community leader. Current rural leadership also needs to mentor, teach and ask the next generations to participate and lead efforts in rural places.

 

“A true rural leader invites other people of diversity to the table and steps back, guides and supports in an act of service to their community.” – Kayla Schnuelle

 

If you do empower others to serve and guide with a gentle hand, then the opportunities for your community are generative and endless. The young leaders that you mentor are the best attraction and retention for the next wave of rural leaders.

Support your community by supporting a culture of giving, and make intentional plans to transfer leadership by extending personal invites and embracing new thoughts, ideas and people. Slowly but surely, we will see the rural leadership gap diminish.

 


 

Kayla Schnuelle

Kayla Schnuelle

Leadership Engagement Director & Network Weaver | Rural Futures Institute
@kschnuelle

Kayla Schnuelle directs the RFI Student Serviceship program, coordinates the state-wide network of young professionals, Connecting Young Nebraskans, and offers her expertise in facilitation and leadership throughout many of RFI’s initiatives.

She has developed a deep understanding of the opportunities and trials that young professionals are finding in rural places. With an immense support network in place, Kayla has coordinated three statewide summits and has assisted in planning two national Rural Futures Institute Conferences.

 


 

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CYN Blog | Abigail Frank | Neligh, Neb.

CYN steering team member Abigail Frank from Neligh, Nebraska, is on the blog! In her vlog she shares about her background, the importance of CYN, the resource that has inspired her research and more! Watch to the end and be sure to share what helps you create positive energy at work.

 

 


 

Abigail Frank

Abigail Frank

Full-Time M.A. Graduate Student
Join me on LinkedIn

Abigail Frank is a full-time graduate student at the University of South Dakota working toward her masters in science, majoring in administration with an emphasis in organizational leadership. She previously served in economic development for the City of Creighton, Neb. Abigail lives in Neligh, Neb., with her husband and four fur-babies.

She has developed a deep understanding of the opportunities and trials that young professionals are finding in rural places. With an immense support network in place, Kayla has coordinated three statewide summits and has assisted in planning two national Rural Futures Institute Conferences.

 


 

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