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Positive Psychology for Winter Blues

November 16, 2017
  By Crystal Ramm, Central Community College Ord Learning Center Manager & Regional Coordinator Winter is coming, and in some parts of Nebraska, snow has already made an unexpected and untimely appearance. There is nothing like trick-or-treating with mittens, stocking …

GameChanger

 

By Crystal Ramm, Central Community College Ord Learning Center Manager & Regional Coordinator

Winter is coming, and in some parts of Nebraska, snow has already made an unexpected and untimely appearance. There is nothing like trick-or-treating with mittens, stocking hats and snow boots to remind us that gorgeous fall weather is fleeting and winter is almost here!

Now, if you are anything like me, you love curling up on the couch with your favorite fuzzy blanket, snuggled in with family and friends, hot chocolate and a good movie. The slightest chill of fall in the air reminds me of my love for new adventures and cold-weather cooking. I LIVE to make beautiful messes in the kitchen; trying out the newest Pinterest sweet potato chili paired with savory cornbread and pumpkin spice…well, anything.

That said, pumpkin spice can only bring so much happiness. The early snow has also reminded me that it’s not only time to prepare for the cold, but also for winter blues.

Many people experience a little gloom and cold-weather funk now and then during the winter months. For some, these dark and dreary days are much more intense and can transform into Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is much more serious and can interfere with life in general.

If you are familiar with this seasonal phenomenon, you already know that winter blues can be helped by increased sunlight, eating healthy, spending time with family and friends, exercise (especially exercise), and if necessary, medical treatment.

In addition to those tools, I have added another weapon to my winter blues arsenal, called positive psychology. Positive Psychology focuses on happiness and well-being and is defined by its founder, Martin Seligman, as the ‘scientific study of optimal human functioning that aims to discover and promote the factors that allow individuals and communities to thrive’. Positive psychology includes individual creativity, resilience, strengths, courage, humor, flow, emotional intelligence and much more.

 

Four years ago, I was introduced to Positive Psychology as a participant in SynoVation Valley Leadership Academy, Ord, Nebraska’s very own leadership academy. This leadership program continues to change my life for the better and the practice of Positive Psychology, in particular, has benefited me greatly.

Here are six ways I use Positive Psychology to stay energized and ward off winter blues.

Reframe.

I’m as guilty as anyone of starting my morning off with a stream of negativity: “I look like a wild animal.” “I slept in again!” “I’m a terrible mother.” “I hate the cold!” “I suck at life”… you get my drift. Take a moment to REALLY listen to your thoughts. If they aren’t positive, flip them on their rear end! “I look creative and adventurous.” “I take great care of my kids.” “The snow is beautiful!” “I’m curious about what today might bring.” Try it out; you might be surprised at how much better you feel after putting a positive spin on life. Remember, whatever you say about yourself, to yourself, will become your truth, so say nice things.

 

Give Affirmation.

Give an authentic compliment to someone every day. Acknowledge your coworkers incredible graphic design skills, highlight what you love about your partner and TELL THEM. Express your gratitude to the coffee shop barista for his or her positive energy each morning. Call your best friend and explain how they rock at making people feel special. It doesn’t have to be big to be impactful. Don’t forget about yourself here, you’ve done something right today as well! Take a minute to give yourself some much-needed credit. Don’t disqualify compliments that you receive, either. Accept them, say thank you and smile!

 

Crucial Conversations.

I don’t know about you, but oftentimes I have the most important conversations with other people—inside of my own head, by myself. I alone write the story, read the story and believe the story. The ending of the story is not usually positive and suddenly I am following the story down a rabbit hole of negative thought. We come to extreme conclusions based on unwarranted assumptions about a person, a conversation, situation or an entire relationship. If you find yourself mulling over someone’s words, invite that person to join your conversation. Ask for clarity surrounding the “issue” and really listen to what that person has to say. Focus on what you want for the outcome of that relationship and go from there.

 

Find joy, laugh.

Having fun used to be simple, but somewhere between your job, parenting, paying the mortgage, another mass shooting, looming terrorism and winter blues, “fun” became more complicated. Surround yourself with friends and family. Play a game, paint, play Legos, watch a funny movie, go fishing, play laser tag, go ice-skating. Make a list of what makes you happy and commit to making those things happen more often!

 

Journal.

Journaling can be a powerful way to focus on the positive and let go of the negative. Make a list of five to ten things you are grateful for every day. Write down any negative thoughts and either reframe them (make them positive) or shred them (literally…it’s freeing).

 

Coaching.

If you feel stuck, take action and talk to someone. Hiring a leadership coach is a powerful way to consistently keep you in the positive and moving forward. My leadership coach is a wizard at leading me out of negativity loops and helping me re-write whatever “story” I am stuck in.

Winter blues or not, what are some ways you could incorporate positive psychology into your life?

You can find out more about SVLA here.

 


 

“The Moment you change your perception, is the moment you rewrite the chemistry of your body.” – Dr. Bruce Lipton

 


 

Crystal Ramm

Crystal Ramm

Manager and Regional Coordinator | Central Community College Ord Learning Center

Crystal Ramm is the Central Community College Ord Learning Center Manager and Regional Coordinator. She grew up in Valentine, Neb., and currently resides in Ord, Neb. She graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She believes that Connecting Young Nebraskans (CYN) is important because it gives Nebraskans an opportunity to connect with people. She is constantly inspired by members of her community so she is excited to represent Ord through CYN.

 

 


 

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Share Your Nebraska Pride—Be a Good Life Ambassador!

November 9, 2017
  By Allison Hatch, Talent Attraction Coordinator at the Nebraska Department of Economic Development The Department of Economic Development (DED) and our partners are launching an exciting new initiative this fall called the Good Life Ambassadors, to bring together citizens …

Ambassadors

 

By Allison Hatch, Talent Attraction Coordinator at the Nebraska Department of Economic Development

The Department of Economic Development (DED) and our partners are launching an exciting new initiative this fall called the Good Life Ambassadors, to bring together citizens who identify as passionate community champions and want to share the good news about Nebraska. We recognize that Nebraska’s current residents are our most valuable resource, as well as our state’s best recruiters. The initiative will actively engage our citizens to join a network, which will undoubtedly include many young professionals across the state, to share pride in our state and promote Nebraska as a great place to live and work to their friends and family via social media.

Ambassadors will also have the opportunity connect directly with potential new residents who have questions about living and working in Nebraska. These outstanding Ambassadors will be supported by DED and its partners through the entire process, including being provided additional bragging points about our great state to ensure they feel confident giving potential new residents relevant and factual information.

 

Growing our State

I see the Good Life Ambassador initiative benefiting our state in multiple ways:

  • Ambassadors will share positive news about Nebraska with their friends and family, reaching a national audience via social media and broadening the state’s talent attraction efforts;
  • I hope many of the Ambassadors will volunteer to reach out directly to individuals who are interested in moving to Nebraska, providing a personal and authentic response to their questions and helping them realize the benefits of moving to the state, increasing their likeliness of moving to Nebraska;
  • I also hope that engaging Nebraskans in this effort to promote our state will help strengthen their own desire to stay here through an increased feeling of connectedness with other citizens and pride in all the positive Nebraska news that is shared; and
  • Occasional surveys will request feedback from the Ambassadors, which will improve the impact of talent attraction and retention initiatives in Nebraska. Read more about DED’s talent attraction and retention initiatives here!

 

Join us!

Anyone who is interested in becoming a Good Life Ambassador can sign up at nebraska.socialtoaster.com. Ambassadors will receive two or three emails each month encouraging them to share good news about Nebraska with their social networks including significant Nebraska accomplishments, interesting facts and personal responses to fun prompts.

In addition, we hope everyone uses #Nebraska to share quintessential Nebraska moments, fun adventures, good news or reasons why you love living, working or playing in Nebraska with your social networks. And, follow us @NebraskaGoodLife on Facebook and Instagram and @NebGoodLife on Twitter!

 

Our Partners

DED is grateful for the support of many partners as we launch this initiative. The Nebraska Talent Team (a group of talent-focused economic development and chambers of commerce professionals) and CYN Steering Team have been instrumental in guiding the design and promotion of the initiative. And now, we are all together leading the charge on recruiting our first Good Life Ambassadors – you!

 

Allison Hatch

Allison Hatch

Talent Attraction Coordinator | Nebraska Department of Economic Development
Join Allison on LinkedIn

Allison Hatch oversees a state strategy for attracting qualified talent for growing job opportunities. She is involved with coordinating an extensive communications and outreach effort that promotes Nebraska as welcoming and attracts a diverse group of talented individuals to the state to live and work; developing programs and fostering an environment that results in individuals remaining in the state; and serving as a catalyst for advancing ideas, partnerships and actions that create greater pathways to career opportunities for Nebraska’s current and future workforce.

 


 

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Get a Business Card and Use it Effectively

October 19, 2017
First off, networking is interacting with another person. I commonly think of networking as a face-to-face interaction with someone you most likely don’t know. It is a way to create a link between you and that other person. A business card is a professional way of sharing printed contact information with that new connection.

CYN_BusinessCard

By Chelsea Luthy, Central Nebraska Community Development Specialist, and CYN Steering Team Member

 

Let’s talk about business cards—and how to network effectively with them.

First off, networking is interacting with another person. I commonly think of networking as a face-to-face interaction with someone you most likely don’t know. It is a way to create a link between you and that other person. A business card is a professional way of sharing printed contact information with that new connection.

We have all heard about the importance of making first impressions. While I believe a smile, eye contact, and a firm handshake are at the top of the list, a business card can easily create an impression. Don’t have any business cards? Did you forget your cards? That is saying something. Does your card consist only of words and nothing extra? Is it completely black and white? That says something also. What if all your coworkers use the same outline and only substitute their name and e-mail address? How easy is it to read the font or text style?

 

Let’s talk formatting and layout.

The standard size of a business card is 2 by 3.5 inches and printed on some type of premium paper. Business card layouts vary widely and numerous templates are available to use or gain inspiration from. At minimum, yours should include a name, address, phone number and e-mail address. It is also recommended to include a position or title, company or organization and a website if you have one. Including a fax number or multiple phone numbers such as any combination of work, mobile or home number is a personal preference. Basically, business cards should contain all of your pertinent contact information. If information is not current, then updating it immediately is a must! Please don’t “use up” the old cards or strike out and handwrite new information!

The entire layout does not need to be text. It is acceptable to show a little personality with your business cards and add some color or an image. On the other hand, too much activity can be distracting or costly to print. Tip: A business card has a front side and a back side – use both! Also, switching cards from horizontal to vertical is another way to make a card unique. Just remember, these can become a challenge to print yourself. In my opinion, printing your own business cards is just as effective as ordering them from a company or online. If you do print your own, I recommend changing your paper type and ink output in printer settings to reflect the quality of cards you desire. Ordering them online can be less hassle and it may be faster.

 

When should I whip out my business card?

There are multiple ways that you can make your business card work for you. Hand a card to someone you are just meeting. Use a card to remind someone you met previously about who you are, but didn’t get a chance to talk to in depth.

My personal favorite: when you hand out a card give them two instead. It’s common for the recipient to acknowledge that they must have received two by mistake, but let them know that the second is for them to share with a friend. This is a way to continue networking through others even when you aren’t present!

Use your business cards in a group setting or give one to a speaker at a conference. Exchanging business cards doesn’t just have to take place in face-to-face situations. Send your card in the mail with a thank you note, clip it to a press packet or place it on a table with printed materials and other business contact information.

 

Someone gave me a business card—now what?

On the flip side, what should you do with the business cards you receive? Personally, I keep them all together in my desk. I write something short on the back of each card as I accumulate them.

I am a visual learner so it can be challenging to pair faces and names of new acquaintances. For example, each business card has a date, the location where we met and something memorable about the encounter. For some people, visiting and meeting new people is outside of their comfort zone.

I use business cards as a gauge and reminder to always keep meeting new faces and focus on building relationships. Do you have any thoughts on business cards and networking? If so, I’d love to hear from you on our Facebook page.

 


 

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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Why Taking Time to Plan Pays Off

October 12, 2017
As somewhat of a professional planner, here are three steps I’ve found to be the most helpful:

Selena-graphic

 

Why Taking Time to Plan Pays Off

By Selena Aguilar, Nebraska State Fair Entertainment Assistant and CYN Steering Team Member

As someone who helps plan one of the largest events in the state I spend my days planning for anything and everything. What shade of blue are the volunteer’s table toppers? Where does one refrigerate butterflies? Where can I find a forklift? How much time is between two entertainment acts? Now, even though some things that I plan may be a little “out there,” there is one thing I plan that everyone can relate to—and that’s life.

When I say life-planning I’m not talking about wanting to be married in five years and have 3 kids within the next 10—or owning a business in 18 months. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just plan everything? I’m talking about day-to-day needs. Planning for daily activities relieves so much in-the-moment stress and allows more time in the day. Believe me, with the kind of hours I pull, you take every second you can.

As somewhat of a professional planner, here are three steps I’ve found to be the most helpful:

 

Create a Daily Routine.

It may seem repetitive, but when you create a routine for yourself, a decision never has to made. Think about when you first start a job. You’re slow as you start to learn, but once you know the drill you can fly through the work. When you translate this into, say, getting ready in the morning, you open more time for things you love to do—like catching some extra z’s.

 

Think Ahead.

Using a little bit of your free time to think ahead, makes life so much more efficient. Meal planning is becoming increasingly popular. Honestly, it’s magical. Sacrificing an hour of my Sunday so that I can pop some grilled chicken pita pizza in the microwave for 2 minutes instead of heating up a T.V. dinner or, worse yet, cooking a meal every night, is worth it. But meals aren’t the only thing I prepare ahead of time. I also hang my outfits together for the week so I can grab and go. I even plan which days to mow and clean the house.

The result? A whole lot less stress, and more free time to do what I enjoy.

 

Turn off Work.

This is a big one. When you are at home, you are at home—that means you’re not work. Obviously this doesn’t always work, believe me. You never know when one of the State Fair Queens is going to win Miss Nebraska…Congrats, Allison, by the way!

But do your due diligence to create some sort of separation.

Don’t feel guilty about leaving once your hours are logged and your work is done. Remembering yourself and your family is important. I promise you work is not as important. (Just don’t tell my boss I said that.) Make sure that when you are at your son’s football game or a pumpkin patch this fall with the family that you are actually present mentally as well. Whether it’s a big presentation or something else that’s been bothering you, turn off work. Live in the moment.

Lastly, despite the regimented life I may have led you to believe I have, I promise no one has it together 100 percent of the time.

But overall, when you open up more time for yourself, you also open up more leeway. Didn’t get to something tonight? Guess what, now you have more time and flexibility to do it tomorrow. If all else fails, remember to wake up every day like it was on purpose! Oh, and have a little fun.


How will you plan to create more time?


Selena Aguilar

Selena Aguilar

Entertainment Assistant | Nebraska State Fair
Join Selena on LinkedIn

Selena Aguilar is originally from Grand Island, Neb., where she returned after graduating from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications in December 2016. Selena works as an entertainment assistant for the Nebraska State Fair, and serves as a member of the CYN Steering Team. She is passionate about fostering diversity and contributing to her community.

 


 

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Young Professionals And Their Powerful Rural Impact

October 5, 2017
First of all, I think the term “young professional” gets misused frequently. Many young workers across the state (and country) don’t necessarily see themselves as professionals if they are not sitting in an office or wearing a suit and tie. We like to think of young professionals as a group of like-minded individuals who come together for a common focus and conversation on issues specific to our demographic, regardless of profession.

BrittnayQuote

 

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

 

Why do you believe it is important for young professionals to make an impact on their communities?

First of all, I think the term “young professional” gets misused frequently. Many young workers across the state (and country) don’t necessarily see themselves as professionals if they are not sitting in an office or wearing a suit and tie. We like to think of young professionals as a group of like-minded individuals who come together for a common focus and conversation on issues specific to our demographic, regardless of profession.

As for the importance of these young professionals making an impact, I think that is self-explanatory—it creates engagement. Statistics show that the more people are engaged, the happier and more connected they feel with their community. If you were to walk into a party and not have a single conversation with anyone there, would you stay? Most likely not. Think about how you feel when you have multiple conversations, or even just one really good one. Now you have found a reason to stay, or a reason to invest and continue that conversation after the party. The same concept applies to community engagement. The more involved you are, the more you want to see the community grow and prosper. It becomes a part of your identity.

 

What are some of the most effective ways for young professionals to get involved in their communities?

If your community has an established young professionals group, start there. This will be an incredible resource. If there is no organized group, just start talking to people! This can be your mayor, a teacher, or even a family member. There are endless ways to get involved, and the amazing part is you can focus on what matters to you the most. Volunteering is a great way to get involved, but also consider civic engagement. Many communities and businesses are getting on board with the “millennial” mindset and love to have younger people serving on their boards or councils.

 

How can young professionals make a positive impact on rural?

There is a lot of talk about urban and rural divide. While there will be obvious amenity differences between two different communities, it is important to remember that most of us still want the same thing, regardless of location and size: a sense of belonging, purpose, maximize our potential and abilities, and plant some roots. Thinking about starting a business? More entrepreneurs are considering startups in smaller communities. Craft breweries are trending, and you would be surprised how well they do in rural areas with the right team behind them. That is just one example, but these types of business endeavors have a positive impact on rural communities, and serve as a great attraction piece for new talent and other young professionals interested in relocating to your community.

 

In what ways can young professionals uniquely excel living in rural communities?

In a rural area, what you say and do truly has an impact. There is not as much red tape to get through when seeking new endeavors or projects, but you do still need to be passionate and driven. The world is changing, and many communities are growing older. The survival of shrinking communities depends on attracting younger individuals to move back and start families, and are supportive of that “young energy” you bring. If you have an idea that would greatly benefit your community, speak up! There likely are many elders who would love to hear your ideas and support you in making those happen. If you have the drive, you can be a total game changer in any community.

 

What are some examples of the young professional impact you’ve witnessed in the Norfolk community?

We have many young professionals that have taken leadership or director level positions in Norfolk. There is a sense of pride when you go to a community event or festival, and you recognize many of your friends’ names who took lead on a project—from fundraising to event planning, everyone has a very important role to play. The support here is amazing, and there are endless opportunities for our young professionals to step up to the plate.

A specific example that happened recently involved a young woman named Emily Afrank. She felt the need to have a handicap accessible park in the community, so she did everything from concept planning to fundraising, and oversaw every aspect of implementing the project. She had the vision, made a plan and created something powerful for an entire community to enjoy for years to come. When you hear a child say at the opening event that this was his first time ever on a playground—well, that demonstrates the kind of impact just one young professional can have on a community. Now take that type of energy and passion and team up with other like-minded individuals, and think about all the possibilities.

 

What advice do you have for young professionals looking for ways to get involved?

My advice is to just get started. Dream big, but start small. Have attainable goals along the way. Don’t be afraid to have conversations with everyone you meet. The best way to learn about a community and involvement opportunities is to put yourself out there. If you are more on the timid side, ask someone you trust to introduce you to one other person who is already involved in something that interests you. Make that first connection, then make another one. Just know that everything you do is valued, if you see the value in your own work, no matter the perceived contribution size. Whether your preference is getting your hands dirty or sharing your ideas, you can, and will, make a real difference.


 

How do YOU define “young professional?” Let us know!

 


 

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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The Student Side of “Serviceship”

September 29, 2017
  By Emily Coffey, 2017 RFI Serviceship Intern & Current Serviceship Ambassador In August, RFI wrapped up its fifth year of summer RFI Student Serviceship. This year’s interns lived in McCook, North Platte, West Point and York, working on major …

Emily

 

By Emily Coffey, 2017 RFI Serviceship Intern & Current Serviceship Ambassador

In August, RFI wrapped up its fifth year of summer RFI Student Serviceship. This year’s interns lived in McCook, North Platte, West Point and York, working on major projects spanning economic development, workforce recruitment and retention, environmental impact and healthcare. Senior political science major Emily Coffey was placed in York, Nebraska. Below she shares some of her perspectives on the Serviceship experience.

My Serviceship partner and I were able to impact the sustainability and vitality of our rural community by gathering a variety of data that was pertinent to the economic development bill we were working to form and promote. We listened to the ideas and concerns of community leaders, applied critical analysis to their comments and the data we collected and spoke with state experts to determine legal, marketing and implementation strategies. We are confident that the service we provided to our community will help to strengthen their economic development, and we are optimistic that the bill will be successful in the upcoming election.

Beyond the scope of the projects we were assigned, we made a conscious effort to immerse ourselves in the culture of our community. We attended York’s Young Professionals events and played on their sand volleyball team. We also visited the weekly farmer’s markets and worked out at the community wellness center. We shopped locally, attended plays at the Yorkshire Playhouse and even lived with a York resident for the entirety of the summer. By becoming members of the community we were able to gain a better understanding of how our projects would affect it.

 

What connections were you able to make?

Our host team members were not only invested in the projects they gave us, but in our personal and professional development as well. They encouraged us to attend community and professional events and connected us with individuals and businesses within the community that were relevant to our future goals. As someone who aspires to go to law school, I was very appreciative of the opportunity to meet and network with a number of people in legal professions and reach a better understanding of their roles in a rural community. My favorite experience was an afternoon spent shadowing the County Attorney, attending hearings and discussing the rewards and challenges of his position.

Emily Coffey and partner Shelby Riggs checking out the York Community with some Red Beard’s Coffee.

How did your Serviceship impact you?

Through the course of my serviceship, I learned to advocate for myself and my ideas. In other internships, I’ve been assigned duties and projects with minimal autonomy or room for innovation. This experience allowed me to think critically about the projects I was assigned, identify the people I needed to connect with, determine the necessary steps in reaching solutions and take ownership of the project to make it my own. At one point, I faced the challenge of facilitating a discussion with a group of community leaders on a very controversial topic. The advice and support of my RFI mentors and host team empowered me to lead the conversation with confidence. This experience has given me a firm foundation for navigating similar situations in the future.

Furthermore, I really appreciate the “service” component of the serviceship experience. Volunteering in York gave me an additional level of investment in the community and helped me to become more in-tune with their way of life; I became more acutely aware of the importance and impact of active community members who give their time and efforts and are dedicated to the happiness and success of their community. On college campuses there are opportunities to get involved and volunteer everywhere you look; but when you have a full-time job and are new to an area, you have to be much more intentional about service.

 


 

Emily Coffey

Serviceship Ambassador | Rural Futures Institute

Emily Coffey is a senior Political Science student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with minors in Business, Psychology, Communication Studies, and Global Studies. Following graduation, she plans to attend law school and hopes to stay in Nebraska long-term.

 

 


 

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Young Nebraskans Week

September 14, 2017
By 2018, employers will see as many as five generations working side by side. More than 60 million baby boomers will exit the workforce, and by 2025, only 40 million new workers will enter to replace them. Advancements in technology will help elevate some labor shortages but not in all sectors. Estimates suggest millennials could make up as much as 75% of the U.S. workforce by 2025.

Young Nebraskans Week

 

Originally published by Greater Omaha Young Professionals

Allison Hatch, Nebraska Department of Economic Development
Kayla Schnuelle,
Rural Futures Institute
Tom Beckius, Keith Peterson, Jaime Henning & Kayla Meyer,
Lincoln’s Young Professionals Group
Luke Hoffman,
Greater Omaha Chamber Young Professionals

 

The face of young American workers, their jobs and where they work is changing.

 

By 2018, employers will see as many as five generations working side by side. More than 60 million baby boomers will exit the workforce, and by 2025, only 40 million new workers will enter to replace them. Advancements in technology will help elevate some labor shortages but not in all sectors. Estimates suggest millennials could make up as much as 75% of the U.S. workforce by 2025.

Young workers today are more likely to be underemployed, earning less, living at home with their parents, delaying marriage and dependent on technology. They are less likely to be affiliated with a political party and connected to religion.

Here is what we also know. Today’s young workers are highly engaged with their work. Additionally, the jobs of today’s young workers are more mobile than they have been for any other generation. Good jobs can be as easy to locate as a good internet connection, whether you are in Albion or Atlanta, McCook or Miami, Lexington or London. As the mobility of jobs continues to increase, communities must ask how they can become more attractive to young workers. Community vibrancy is an ever-increasing factor in today’s job marketplace as workers can often choose from where they work instead of simply locating to where jobs are located.

The attraction, retention and development of young workers is vitally important for communities hoping to remain relevant in the rapidly expanding and diversified economy of the 21st Century. It is with this focus in mind that community leaders across the state of Nebraska have developed strategies to target this talent pool through attraction and retention efforts, including a specific priority to ask young workers what the community can do to make it more attractive as a place to live and work.

 

Yet, no one community knows all the best practices in attraction, retention and development of young talent, and leaders and communities are constantly faced with limited resources.

 

Yet, no one community knows all the best practices in attraction, retention and development of young talent, and leaders and communities are constantly faced with limited resources. As such, a concerted statewide coalition of leaders working together, sharing best practices and resources across the state, to focus the spotlight on young talent and vibrant communities together is the next step in making sure we are at the forefront for young workers.

Young Nebraskans Week will be a carefully curated series of speakers, discussion panels, workshops and networking opportunities hosted by communities across the state that celebrate the talent, insight and energy of young professionals working in Nebraska while also exploring the intersection between cultures and cities. Developed by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and modeled after Lincoln’s Young Professionals Group’s annual YP Week, Young Nebraskans Week aims to concentrate our state’s focus on growing, retaining and developing our youngest members of the workforce. We know that highlighting the best of what Nebraska offers is how we win the fight for young talent and helps to keep Nebraska prosperous.

 

Collaboration is the new competition.

 

As we launch Young Nebraskans Week in 2018, we will be working throughout the state with local partners to create a dynamic environment focused on young workers. We will call upon industry, labor, chambers of commerce, economic development partners and many others to help make this initiative as strong as possible. We ask every Nebraskan to join our coalition in the fight to attract and retain young workers to our state. Collaboration is the new competition.

 


 

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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Leadership Skills: Being A Doer To Become A Leader

September 5, 2017
I’ve never considered myself a “leader.” My philosophy has always been to do and steer. Meeting gets out of hand; get it back on point. People are complaining about a constant problem; address said problem.

WalkerZulkoski_Feature

 

By Walker Zulkoski, Executive Director of Gage Area Growth Enterprise (NGage)
I’ve never considered myself a “leader.” My philosophy has always been to do and steer. Meeting gets out of hand; get it back on point. People are complaining about a constant problem; address said problem. I don’t do these things because I think of myself as a leader. I do them because I only have so much time and energy—and to sit in a meeting talking about the same thing over and over again is a waste. My thoughts turn to, “Let’s get things done and move on to the next project.”

If you are in that stage of life where you work hard, you produce, people count on you and you consistently think of the next idea, then you, like so many of us, are in this state of leadership purgatory.

Many of us with this mindset are at the same point. Millennials are reaching the stage in their careers at which they master their trade and naturally begin to find new ways of accomplishing tasks more efficiently and effectively. Rather than buckle down and work harder, we step back, analyze and work smarter. We spend more time planning, listening, navigating and dreaming—knowing that we can’t do it all and that we must allow others to conquer the task with their own skills. It’s important to act on these ideas, take note of the outcomes and understand that these activities are creating future leaders.

When we do take on these initial leadership roles, we don’t completely move on, and that’s fine. As Charlette Beers describes in her article, The Three Stages of Your Career, “No one is a leader all the time,” tackling a leadership role when we need to and then reverting back to being a doer is a natural cycle. The idea doesn’t have to be something earth-shattering that turns your entire business upside down. Simple changes or projects can get you the same experience and give you the confidence to do it again.

 

“When the new idea comes to you, run with it.
Step out of your comfort zone, take a risk and lead the charge.”

 

When the new idea comes to you, run with it. Step out of your comfort zone, take a risk and lead the charge. Then go back to being a doer and think of the next idea you want to act on. The more times you do this, the more experience you gain.

Document your experience. Reflect on it to understand what did and did not work. How would you change your approach? Take your experience, and turn it into an elevator pitch. Nobody will remember that you did a good job unless you tell them. The more projects and charges you lead will add to your toolbox of knowledge and make you better the next time. Let these experiences mold you into the leader you aspire to become. It’s a never-ending process, but it needs to start now. Take your idea and run with it then go back to being a doer and think of the next one.

 


 

What will you do to define the future?

 


 

Walker Zulkoski

Walker Zulkoski

Executive Director | Gage Area Growth Enterprise (NGage)
Connect with Walker on LinkedIn & Facebook.

Walker Zulkoski is the Executive Director of Gage Area Growth Enterprise (NGage) in Beatrice, NE. Originally from Ord, Nebraska, his mission is to help rural Nebraska prosper. Walker is a graduate of the State Chamber’s Leadership Nebraska class, the RFI Leadership Development Program, Leadership Beatrice, and is currently a member of the Sherwood Foundation’s Catalyst class. He holds a bachelor degree from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, a Master Certificate from Villanova University, and an MBA from Nebraska Wesleyan.

 

 


 

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Hosting RFI Serviceship

August 31, 2017
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.

TinaFeat

 

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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Millennial Game Changers: A Part of Something Bigger

August 24, 2017
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.

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

August 18, 2017
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

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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The Power of Positivity and Volunteerism

August 10, 2017
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.

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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What Meal Planning Can Do For You — And Nebraska

August 4, 2017
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.

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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Culture & Entertainment For Young Nebraskans

July 19, 2017
It is so important for young people in general to feel like they have a purpose and that they are a part of something. Because Nebraska is made up of rural communities, it is especially important that young Nebraskans have the opportunity to feel this way. Entertainment and culture are great ways to do that. Both bridge gaps and prevent people from feeling like they are missing out on something.

Don't do things for image — Do things to make a difference.

 

Q&A with Selena Aguilar, Nebraska State Fair Entertainment Assistant and CYN Steering Team Member

 

Why are culture and entertainment important for young Nebraskans?

It is so important for young people in general to feel like they have a purpose and that they are a part of something. I think this becomes especially important as we look to recruit and retain young Nebraskans to our rural communities—we need these people to feel connected to their community and entertainment and culture are a great way to do that. They bridge gaps and prevent people from feeling like they are missing out on something out there. Entertainment brings people together in a positive way.

 

Why are you passionate about each one (culture and entertainment)?

I come from a mixed background and have seen a lot of cultures blended together. I think that all unique cultures should be celebrated, because it is part of what gives a person fulfillment. We, as people, pull influence for all different cultures in our daily lives.

Entertainment has always held a special place in my life. I’ve had a passion for music and theater since I was in grade school. There are so many embarrassing videos of me “performing.”

The sole purpose of my job is to make people happy—to make sure attendees enjoy their time. No matter how crazy it gets, it is pretty amazing to think about bringing people of all different backgrounds together, and everyone enjoying themselves.

 

How do you think culture and entertainment can be created and sustained for young Nebraskans?

I’d like to think I’m part of that effort at the state level with my role at the fair, but it really only does take one person in a community to make a difference. Through CYN we are working hard to build the types of leaders who will step up in their community. No matter what your goal is, there are plenty of people out there who are just as passionate as you but need the right connector. It may be as easy as stepping out of your comfort zone and stepping up to make it happen.

Hear Nebraska is a great example of this. Speaking close to home, Hear Grand Island (a branch of Hear Nebraska) is a weekly local concert series in our downtown area during the summer. It has provided a way to bring not only community but businesses together as well.

Festivals are a great way to create an environment of culture and entertainment as well, but I’d suggest more long-term plans for sustainability—something people can get involved with regularly, not one weekend or even day a year. A good rule of thumb is to keep intentions true—don’t do things for image, do them to make a difference.

 

How does diversity tie into culture and entertainment?

To summarize, diversity is an influencer of culture, and culture is an influencer of entertainment. Without different belief systems, rituals and traditions, there would be no culture. Entertainment of all kinds is a powerful form of expression. It pulls influence from our beliefs, traditions and feelings.

 

Why are you passionate about diversity?

Diversity should be celebrated! I would love to never stop learning. Diversity is the perfect opportunity to learn. Accept when others differ from you, learn about them and celebrate what makes you an individual. Life would be pretty boring if we just did the same old thing all time. I believe in immersing yourself in other people’s worlds, not to make them your own, but to celebrate individuality.

 

How can Nebraska celebrate diversity?

In order to celebrate diversity anywhere, not just Nebraska, there needs be a true, honest focus on a long-term sustainability. There’s too much focus on celebration by separation—celebrating a culture within a day for example. While some do not see it as a problem, here is my perspective: It can feel like you’re being told: “Here is your day. You get this day, and this day only, and then the rest of the year you sit back and be quiet about it.” Celebrations of diversity shouldn’t be confined or restrained.

 

How have your passions for culture, entertainment and diversity impacted your professional career?

My passions for culture, entertainment and diversity have 100 percent influenced my professional career. I’ve always wanted to do something for a living that makes me happy but it also had to be realistic. As happy as singing on stage every day of my life would make me, it isn’t exactly a reliable path to follow. I tried a lot of different things before I found the niche of event planning. In pursuing event planning, my passion for entertainment actually pulled me into my current opportunity. Now I’m able to help create a huge, 11-day experience in culture, diversity and entertainment. I don’t think anything that didn’t offer me the same opportunity to intersect all of these important aspects to me would hold my passion.

 


 

Selena Aguilar

Selena Aguilar

Entertainment Assistant | Nebraska State Fair
Join Selena on LinkedIn

Selena Aguilar is originally from Grand Island, Neb., where she returned after graduating from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications in December 2016. Selena works as an entertainment assistant for the Nebraska State Fair, and serves as a member of the CYN Steering Team. She is passionate about fostering diversity and contributing to her community.

 


 

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Growing Our State Through People Attraction, Retention & Development

July 13, 2017
As the “talent attraction coordinator” for Nebraska’s Department of Economic Development (DED), my business is growing Nebraska. My team is dedicated to attracting, retaining and developing the people of Nebraska to match the growing job opportunities here.

“…business development in Nebraska is directly tied to the development
and growth of available ‘talent.’”

 

As the “talent attraction coordinator” for Nebraska’s Department of Economic Development (DED), my business is growing Nebraska. My team is dedicated to attracting, retaining and developing the people of Nebraska to match the growing job opportunities here.

  • Attract — Coordinate an extensive communications and outreach effort that promotes Nebraska as welcoming and attracts a diverse group of talented individuals to the state to live and work.
  • Retain — Develop programs and foster an environment that results in individuals remaining in the state.
  • Develop — Serve as a catalyst for advancing ideas, partnerships and actions that create and enhance pathways to career opportunities for Nebraska residents.

 

The Context

For many years, DED heard from businesses looking for help finding more people, or “talent.” In 2016, my team and I at DED surveyed 263 primary sector businesses (i.e. businesses that import capital into the community from outside the region) during company conversations and visits. Results showed that nearly 50% of these businesses experienced increasing employment needs and 80% reported experiencing recruitment problems.

Nebraska has the fourth lowest unemployment rate (2.8% in May 2017) and the fourth highest labor participation rate (69.5% in May 2017) in the nation. With few unemployed people seeking work and a limited pool of residents to add to the labor force, it is critical that Nebraska be proactive in both retaining the current workforce and attracting new people to the state to fill the growing opportunities here.

According to the US Census Bureau, Nebraska’s migration trends show that there was a net loss of 2,551 persons in state-to-state migration in 2014. Nebraskan’s aged 25 years and older with a Bachelor’s Degree or more education—key population from which high-skilled workers are often hired—left the state at an average rate of 11,861 per year over the 5-year period between 2011 and 2015, resulting in an outmigration of -6.5 per 1,000 people and ranking Nebraska 9th worst nationally. Migration trends coupled with Nebraska’s aging population has made this outmigration even more pronounced in rural areas. In 71 of Nebraska’s 93 counties, particularly in less densely populated Western Nebraska, there is a median age of 40 or older according to the US Census Bureau. People exiting the workforce for retirement in the coming years will exacerbate this already pressing issue.

Median Age 40 or Older in 71 of 93 counties
MedianAgeByCounty

Additionally, according to the Nebraska Department of Labor, there were 64,128 job openings advertised on its NEworks website in May 2017. This amounts to more than two job ads for every unemployed person in Nebraska. Conversely, industry projections predict growth in employment in 18 of the 20 industry sectors through 2022, with a total statewide growth of 9.54% between 2012 and 2022. Industry growth is undoubtedly already hindered by Nebraska’s tight labor market.

 

What This Means

All of this points to the fact that business development in Nebraska is directly tied to the development and growth of available “talent.” We have worked closely with the business community to identify the skills gaps and developed partnerships with the Department of Labor, Department of Education and other training providers to build talent pipelines. We strive to ensure our youth have experiences that will help them make thoughtful and well-informed career and education decisions. Over the last couple of years, DED has adjusted its strategy to intentionally include the attraction and retention of people as well.

I was hired about 18 months ago to research talent trends, develop a talent attraction and retention strategy and implement talent-focused initiatives. This research and many conversations with people and businesses across Nebraska has led me to believe that we will be most successful in recruiting young people (e.g. millennials) who have previously lived in Nebraska back to Nebraska. Some of us in this field like to call these individuals “boomerangs.”

Results from a 2010 Gallup survey of individuals who had previously lived in Nebraska revealed that people under 30 years old are more likely to return to Nebraska. Specifically, 45% of survey participants under 30 years old said there was at least a 50% chance they would someday return to Nebraska, in comparison to only 23% of overall participants who reported at least a 50% chance of returning to Nebraska.

DED recently collaborated with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln to update some of Gallup’s previous findings through a survey of University of Nebraska–Lincoln alumni who currently live outside of the state. In this survey, 87.9% of millennials (respondents born after 1980) responded “Yes” or “Maybe” when asked if they would return to Nebraska if the opportunity presented itself, compared to a slightly lower percentage, 83.9%, of overall participants. If they responded “Yes” or “Maybe” we followed up by asking how likely they were to return to Nebraska; 37.2% of millennials responded they were either “Very likely” or “Somewhat likely” to return compared to 34.6% of all participants.

Millennials:
Would you Return
to Nebraska?

Millennials:
How likely are you
to return to Nebraska?

AllisonHatch_PieCharts AllisonHatch_PieCharts2

 

DED Talent-Focused Initiatives

DED is in the process of implementing several talent-focused initiatives. According to the Development counselors international 10 Top Tips in Talent Attraction publication, one of the primary elements of any successful talent attraction and development strategy is to have a well-organized, visually compelling, informative web presence. My team is currently working closely with a website developer to create a one-stop-shop website that will promote Nebraska as a great place to live, work and play. The website is expected to launch this November and will feature job opportunities, culture and quality of life aspects, training opportunities and community engagement opportunities. Potential new residents will be drawn in by personal stories of people who love living in Nebraska and have the opportunity to connect directly with passionate Nebraskans eager to help them learn more about the state.

DED and a group of talent-focused economic development and chambers of commerce professionals are working collaboratively to create this network of passionate Nebraskans who will connect with potential new residents. When someone from outside of Nebraska shares that they are interested in learning more about living and working here, a volunteer from the network we are building will reach out to them directly to address their questions. The network, which will undoubtedly include many young professionals across the state, will also be asked to share the good news about Nebraska with their family and friends. I know that Nebraska’s current residents and employees are one of our most valuable resources as well as our state’s best recruiters. I hope that engaging Nebraskans in this effort to promote our state will also help strengthen their own desire to stay here.

My team and I will continue to work diligently on these projects, and many others still in the formation stages, to grow the state through attracting, retaining and developing great people. I know that I will reach out to you all for support and inspiration as well. Connecting Young Nebraskans was established to connect, empower and retain young leaders in the rural areas of Nebraska, making you an essential partner in DED’s mission to grow the state. I am thrilled about the possibilities of how we can achieve these goals together.

 


 

Allison Hatch

Allison Hatch

Talent Attraction Coordinator | Nebraska Department of Economic Development
Join Allison on LinkedIn

Allison Hatch oversees a state strategy for attracting qualified talent for growing job opportunities. She is involved with coordinating an extensive communications and outreach effort that promotes Nebraska as welcoming and attracts a diverse group of talented individuals to the state to live and work; developing programs and fostering an environment that results in individuals remaining in the state; and serving as a catalyst for advancing ideas, partnerships and actions that create greater pathways to career opportunities for Nebraska’s current and future workforce.

 


 

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CYN Blog | Abigail Frank | Neligh, Neb.

June 30, 2017
CYN steering team member Abigail Frank from Neligh, Nebraska, is on the blog! In her vlog she shares about her background, her inspirations, her experiences with CYN, the importance of volunteering and more!

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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Shrinking The Rural Leadership Gap

June 22, 2017
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?

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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