This Week in Serviceship 2018/

This Week In Serviceship 2018: Week Ten!

July 27, 2018
Broken Bow, Neb. When considering the fact that we are finishing up our last full week here in Broken Bow, it is hard to believe how fast the summer went. Our time spent here has been so great – we …

Broken Bow, Neb.

When considering the fact that we are finishing up our last full week here in Broken Bow, it is hard to believe how fast the summer went. Our time spent here has been so great – we have met so many amazing members of this community as well as Custer County as a whole. Our projects have wrapped up nicely and we are excited to be able to give some final updates.

“This serviceship gave me insight I otherwise wouldn’t have gotten into the world of local government, economic development and the importance of small town innovation in rural Nebraska.”

JESSICA WEEDER
SERVICESHIP INTERN, BROKEN BOW, NEB.

 

Our Sturgis project wrapped up nicely with banners hung up around town at various businesses as well as the park, the Barn, and the entrances into Broken Bow. These banners were obtained through Coca-Cola and Budweiser due to those companies being official sponsors of the Sturgis bike rally. Our Sturgis cards have been distributed and we decided to place more at the Visitors Center or the Barn as well as a water station/ bike repair tent that pops up in a restaurants parking lot.

Some of our final progress on the YMCA project has been getting key community members on board for a YMCA activities director recruited to come to the county. We have met with Optimist Club – the current group that is heading up most of the youth sports. They were excited about having someone to lead these programs, though they are still happy to volunteer their time to simply help.


Diamond Youth Organization (DYO) will be contacted in a few weeks once baseball season is over. They will be the last group to reach out to before things can really be moved forward. On July 25th we had the opportunity to tour Adam’s Land and Cattle. This was an amazing chance to see the huge facility that they have south of town and learn a little bit more about the industry.

Jessica gave a presentation to the City Council about the Leadership Certified Community. All members, including mayor Cecil Burt, were in favor and excited for the opportunity. Only a few more components are left to add to the document before it will be sent to the State of Nebraska Economic Development.

“I am so thankful for the opportunity to come to Custer County and learn from the amazing individuals here. I have learned some invaluable lessons and am so excited to continue to use the tools I have been given during the past 10 weeks of my serviceship.”

LEANNE GAMET
SERVICESHIP INTERN, BROKEN BOW, NEB.

 

Leanne’s final article will be in the Custer County Chief Wednesday August 1st, coincidentally our last day in Broken Bow. Her article focused on the mammoth remains found south of where the Comstock concerts are held annually.

Our final days will be filled with spending time at the Custer County Fair and tying up any other loose ends. Overall, this opportunity has been amazing and we are already looking forward to visiting the community in years to come.

 

 

 

Columbus, Neb.

“This is the end of my part in Columbus, but they are on the cusp of some amazing stuff here.”

AMBER ROSS
SERVICESHIP INTERN, COLUMBUS, NEB.

 

We have finished up our time in Columbus and have wrapped up or handed off all of our projects. The Columbus Area Future Fund had us working on creating marketing materials. We took videos and pictures of the Fund Advisory Committee members and used them to create monthly newsletters. The videos will also be used to promote the fund in the future.

During our time with the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce we have worked on four different projects. We updated, rebranded and advertised the community calendar, Good Times.

We also held an event to reenergize the community brand, Something Good. The event was held over the course of two weeks, we posted trivia questions, held pop-up booths and chose winners through daily drawings.

Throughout the summer we planned and held Interns’ Night Out for the interns in the area. During those events, we offered dinner and had an activity, one night we had the local airboaters association give the interns rides down the Platte River.

In September, Columbus will be holding an event in conjunction with Young Nebraskans Week. We have been an integral part of the planning process for that event. We formed a committee and created a plan for them to follow in the months leading up to the event. We are looking forward to seeing how the event turns out.

When we asked KC Belitz what his favorite part of having us this summer was, he said, “The practical side is that you guys got actual work done. You worked on projects that we would not have done otherwise. The flip side of that is the staff had the chance to learn from both of you. What you each brought from your backgrounds and demographics and then also what you brought together are things that we all learned from. We will use that for a long time.” Kara Asmus replied, “I just love your enthusiasm and how you jumped in and gave 110% from the moment you got here. Your perspective, fresh ideas and participation exceeded my expectation.”

“We came here to make a difference for them, but they made a difference in us.”

CLAYTON KELLER
SERVICESHIP INTERN, COLUMBUS, NEB.

 

 

 

 

Cozad, Neb.

One of our main projects this summer was the collaborative work on the First Impressions Program between Cozad and Ogallala. The First Impressions Program provides an opportunity for communities to learn about existing strengths and weaknesses through the eyes of the first-time visitor. The results from a First Impressions visit can serve as the basis for community action. This tool is particularly useful because as a matter of human nature, all communities have difficulities viewing their surroundings as others – customers, visitors, potential residents, and potential businesses – see them. Our views are skewed by over-familiarization, a lack of differing perspectives, expectations, and a reluctance to be completely honest with our neighbors when dealing with difficult issues, such as the appearance of buildings, customer service, and the maintenance of public faciities.

Volunteers from two somewhat similar communities agree to do unannounced visits and then report on their findings.  Participants become “secret shoppers” for the day to discover what they can about their sister community. This summer we’ve compiled and streamlines the feedback the teams provided about Cozad and Ogallala. Last week, we presented to Ogallala about the challenges and opportunities seen from a visitor’s perspective. Similarly, next week, we will be presenting the findings to community stakeholders in Cozad. In addition, we’ve included results from a recent community survey done by the library. This data will enhance what we are saying but backing it with community member views.

“The opportunity to spend the summer in a rural community shows you just how much Nebraska has to offer.”

SHELBY UTECH
SERVICESHIP INTERN, COZAD, NEB.

 

 

Utilizing the information uncovered through the First Impressions Program, Ogallala and Cozad are applying for a grant through the Sherwood Foundation to take action on the opportunities presented. Property owners, businesses, and home owners along the highways and interstate corridors into the towns will be able to apply for matching grant funds to make aesthetic improvements. Clean-up and improve the aesthetics of the highway and interstate corridors into Cozad and Ogallala.

These projects can include public space improvements including landscaping: trees, shrubs, or permanent elements; professional removal of eyesores; compliance with local codes; murals; and public green spaces. Funding can provide property owners matching grants for replacement of boarded, missing, or broken windows; painting of structures; façade improvements; lighting or illumination of blighted areas; and demolition of dilapidated structures. Businesses and community organizations can use the grant to modernize websites of businesses, civic organizations, local administration, and tourist attractions to encourage a welcoming feel towards potential residents and companies.

We are excited to wrap up this project by celebrating the achievements and embracing the opportunities with the community members of Cozad. We hope to hear more about the status of our grant this fall and will be excited to see how Cozad develops in the future.

 

 

 

Norfolk, Neb.

As we wrap up our last full week in the Norfolk community, we are finishing up our projects with both the City of Norfolk and the departments we’ve been working with on that assignment, along with our projects with Daycos. Our next couple of days will be filled with coffee dates, lunch outings, and dinner get togethers to say goodbye to our mentors, co-workers, and all of the wonderful community members we have had the awesome opportunity of working with this summer.

“This serviceship experience has enabled me to grow my strengths and leverage them to leave the most positive impact possible on the Norfolk community.”

CHEYENNE GERLACH
SERVICESHIP INTERN, NORFOLK, NEB.

 

We have spent much of the past two weeks presenting our findings to many leadership and business groups in Norfolk. We do a large overview of the Rural Futures Institute and our projects with Daycos and the City of Norfolk, and then we dive into our strategies for cross-promoting business and up-selling Norfolk. We have developed an activity called “Griswold’s Norfolk Vacation” that has our audience try to identify a different business to recommend the disruptive Griswold’s to for every item on their very detailed and determined shopping list for their week away in Norfolk. It brings to light all of the noteworthy businesses that their community has and the impact that cross-promoting can have on their overall economy and culture.

One of the most successful presentations that we had was a focus group discussion that we held for all of Norfolk’s retail business owners. We invited the twenty-five businesses that we did Secret Shopper surveys on, along with many others. We shared with them the results and the data that we collected and where we believe the gaps are in their community. We gave them great action steps to start cross-promoting within their own businesses.

The portfolio that we will hand into the City of Norfolk when we finish our internship this summer will include many projects, strategies, and ideas to answer their original question to us: “How can the community of Norfolk cross promote all areas of retail?” The first example of this is a completed assessment of the Secret Shopper surveys we completed, analyzed, and discussed with the community members and stakeholders.

We also are working on finalizing a strategy on how to incentivize local businesses to up-sell Norfolk. We created a marketing plan to promote all areas and sectors of the community’s retail. Another project we are including in this portfolio is the windshield assessment that we worked on, focussing on the six major hubs of retail in Norfolk.

Lastly, we created a plan to execute a Norfolk-wide customer service training seminar, partnering with the major players in the community.

Last week, we also had the opportunity to join on of our mentors, Economic Developer Candice Alder, for the Network Northeast Nebraska meeting. We heard many success stories about a few new strategies in rural development, such as ProsperNE, hiring out private consulting firms, and ECAP. This was a great learning experience, but more than that it was a great way to meet many leaders in rural economic development in Nebraska.

“I look forward to taking what I have learned from my serviceship experience in Norfolk and applying it in my future career. I know that I am leaving this community with a step in the right direction, a better knowledge of my career goals and a strong network of community leaders.”

SAMANTHA GUENTHER
SERVICESHIP INTERN, NORFOLK, NEB.

As we’re starting to reflect on our experience in Norfolk, we have come to the conclusion that we have had the opportunity to apply so many valuable skills and use so much vital knowledge that we have gained from our college classes and past internship.

Traci Jeffery, Visitors Bureau Executive Director said, “Cheyenne and Samantha bring an impressive skill set to our community that was valued by many local leaders. They instantly stepped into the role and were advocates for Norfolk. Their work provided a vision for retail and has set us on a course for success with local businesses.”

 

 

 

Omaha Land Bank

The time has come, and Sydney and Kyle are done with their internship at the Omaha Municipal Land Bank. It is crazy to think that just 10 short weeks ago we started out on this journey. We came into the internship with little knowledge on what our work was going to entail this summer at the Land Bank. However, at the end of week 10 we are leaving with more knowledge and information than we had ever planned on.

The last two weeks have been busy for Kyle and Sydney at the Land Bank. Last Friday we attended a “Why We Can’t Wait Urban League YP Summit.” We were able to interact with multiple community members and associations on different topics impacting Omaha’s community.

These topics included: Pay Equity, Gentrification, and LGBTQ. The information we gained from this Summit was very eye opening and opened a lot of good discussion for the Land Bank.

Our mentor, Laura Heilman, lead the discussion on Gentrification and how it affects North Omaha. Kyle and Sydney took notes and helped capture what Omaha was really feeling about Gentrification and how the Land Bank could help remove these thoughts of Gentrification and move the thoughts to “community development.”

In addition to our time learning about community input and the area that we are working in, we had the opportunity to watch two development projects get into their final steps.

The film crew the Land Bank hired allowed us to shadow as they interviewed individuals involved and began creating promotional material of homes that had been redone. The first day of filming was with a transformed property in the Country Club neighborhood. This home was a large house in an upscale neighborhood but had a hole in the roof, was overgrown, and had overall become rundown over the years. The Country Club house was originally on the slate of demolitions for the City of Omaha until the Land Bank stepped in to save it. Now the renovations are complete, and the new owners move in on Friday.

“One of my favorite things about the Land Bank is how concerned they are with community input. They really care about what the community wants and what is in the best interests of community members instead of what will benefit their business more.”

SYDNEY ARMBRUSTER
SERVICESHIP INTERN, OMAHA LAND BANK

The property owners were kind enough to allow the staff to walk through and see the finished home before they had moved. Sydney and Kyle were able to see the inspector for the city come look over the property for approval. Additionally, we were able to speak and listen to interviews with the general contractor, neighbors, and the design team. The sheer scope of what went into this beautiful home cannot be overstated as it was transformed from a hazard with termite damage and animals getting in and out to a stately home on a prominent corner lot. What had caused neighbors on either side to leave because of the vacant and dangerous property next door is now a newly renovated envy of the neighborhood.

Today we had the chance to go see the installation of the house built by Metro Community College in their construction trades building. The lot was owned by the land bank and located across the street from the campus. It will be a 1600 sq. ft home with attached garage and a size-able backyard located in north Omaha. The home will be sold to a family that can ideally live in it long term and help begin to fill in vacant lots near the campus and bring up the rest of the neighborhood. The home was carried by semi in three segments and set on a foundation. We were able to witness the move of the home from the truck and onto the foundation across steel beams. This coming Fall, the home will be up for sale and give a new family a great home. Hopefully more projects can be planned out over the course of years and metro will be able to continue to install new housing in their own backyard so students for decades to come can see the work done to make the city a better place.

 

 

 

Red Cloud, Neb.

In the preceding weeks we had been working almost constantly on the economic development plan and other related projects. Starting last Monday, we shook things up and drove out to the Starke Round Barn for a week much different than most of our time here. The Starke Round Barn is the world’s largest round barn used in agricultural production. It is three stories high and 140 feet across—not to mention 115 years old. Today, the barn is privately owned and upkept by Liz Rasser, who we spent the week working with.

“As we pass on the torch, I am confident that we helped to fuel the community’s growth and change. Of all the things I learned, I will never forget the energy and dedication of the people here. They will certainly keep the flame burning for a long time to come.”

TRENTON BUHR
SERVICESHIP INTERN, RED CLOUD, NEB.

 

The Rasser family purchased the barn in 1931 after the Starke family went bankrupt during the Great Depression.  Part of our task was to figure out what led to their fallout and bankruptcy. To do this, we learned how to use microfiche, microfilm, and century old courthouse records. Some of these techniques were more fun than others.

It turns out that microfilm is not exactly easy to use, and we became rather disoriented after only a few minutes staring at the bright screen. To avoid the headaches, we spent a lot of time inside the office of the Red Cloud Chief newspaper where they store physical copies of every Red Cloud newspaper since the 1880s…except the year 1923. And, what do you know, that is the exact year we were looking for!

Liz had known that the Starke cattle herd contracted tuberculosis and our mission was to find out what happened to the herd. In the District Court records we found a case where the Starke Bros. sued a man who refused to pay for the sick cows the Starkes sold him (Starke, Chris and William v. Louis Borcherding, 1924.)

After looking through all the newspaper in the area at the time of the court’s decision we found absolutely nothing about the dying herd. To make up for it, we found out when and for how much the Rasser family purchased the Starke property for! Although we didn’t come away with ground breaking information, it was great to learn about all the resources for finding out historical information.

The rest of the week we helped Liz update the barn’s website, create a new visitor and tour policy, and plan out an art gallery she is hosting in September. It’s quite impressive how she has been able to maintain the Round Barn and its story while still working full time on a farm—a true representative of these dedicated people.

“With this Serviceship wrapping up and our Economic Plan being handed off to the citizens here, I cannot wait to see what amazing progress they make with it moving forward. And I can’t wait to come back in the future to see this amazing community continue to grow and thrive.”

TREVOR HARLOW
SERVICESHIP INTERN, RED CLOUD, NEB.

During this week, we spent our time polishing the economic development plan. On Friday the 13th we hosted a meeting with the city council and other stake holders to get feedback on the plan and that went very well. We also had a meeting on Wednesday with the Economic Development Advisory Board for additional thoughts. This week we added a few items, changed some, and made lots of tiny edits to get it into presentable shape. Thursday the 26th and Friday the 27th of July we give presentations to the public about our plan.

After this week it will be up to the people here to follow through with the steps to make the community grow. It’s quite amazing to think that we came here only a few months ago and, in that time, managed to understand how the town functions and organize the concerns and ideas of so many different people. We know that the people here are passionate and inspired to keep moving forward and we have no doubt that they will.

Read More

This Week in Serviceship 2018: Week Nine!

July 20, 2018
Alliance, Neb. “I’m really grateful for the time I have had in Box Butte County and hope that the connections I have made here will stay with me forever. Rural communities are so valuable, and I look forward to using …

Alliance, Neb.

“I’m really grateful for the time I have had in Box Butte County and hope that the connections I have made here will stay with me forever. Rural communities are so valuable, and I look forward to using my leadership skills in one someday.”

MIRISSA SCHOLTING
SERVICESHIP INTERN, ALLIANCE, NEB.

 

We are in the last two weeks of our serviceship in Box Butte County and can’t believe how fast the time has gone! We are working on finishing our Marketing Hometown America video and compiling pictures and videos that we have taken so that Box Butte Development Corporation can use them for future projects.

“Haley and Mirissa have brought fresh ideas and a jolt of energy to the communities of Box Butte County,” said Alliance serviceship host team member Tabitha Unzicker.

 

Another part of our project we are working on is creating short videos to help explain Box Butte Development Corporation’s mission: “To enhance, diversify and maintain the economy of Box Butte County.” By creating these videos we will be able to help explain what Box Butte Development stands for, believes in and offers to their patrons.

Last week we volunteered for Bands on the Bricks which takes place every Friday in July in Alliance and the first Friday in August in Hemingford. We drove an ice cream truck around town to get some footage of people buying ice cream. We also worked on a Husker Prep advertisement and helped pick stock photos for the new Holiday Inn Express.

This week we went to a painting class for bonding time with our office staff. We will also be attending Heritage Days and then Bands on the Bricks Friday and Saturday night. We will also be volunteering at Sunday in the Park with Viaero Wireless to end Heritage Days.


“Serving, working and living in Alliance this summer has given me an appreciation for buying local, living in rural and being involved in my community.”

HALEY EHRKE
SERVICESHIP INTERN, ALLIANCE, NEB.

 

 

 

McCook, Neb.

This week has been a big week of event planning in McCook! During our last week, we will be holding a “Fiesta” to kick off the two programs we have been working on with Andy Long, Economic Development Coordinator. We will have tacos and fun for all in attendance as we present the McCook Mastermind Alliance and Accelerated Interns of McCook Program.

“With limited time left in McCook, the legacy we hope to leave is an enthusiasm for community and awareness of  rural Nebraska’s extraordinary potential.”

EMILY FRENZEN
SERVICESHIP INTERN, MCCOOK, NEB.

 

Additionally, we will be hosting a membership drive at the High Plains Museum, at which there will be snacks, music and a showcase of 3D designs we have created.

To showcase the 3D designs for the Night at the Museum Event, we have been continuously working on exhibit designs through a software called Sketchup. It is so much fun to work with, AND it allows us to give people a visual on what we see for the future of the High Plains Museum!

To prepare for these events, we spent a couple hours walking from business to business with Andy to hand out flyers. This allowed us to meet business professionals in the community we hadn’t been introduced to yet. While we are on the homestretch of our serviceship, it’s refreshing to continue to meet McCook’s stakeholders.

Along with having the opportunity to meet with businesses, we have also been meeting with people to ask questions about budgeting, fire codes and minute details of the museum planning process.

“Through RFI Serviceship, I’ve realized each individual in a rural community is so important. Every community member has a unique set of skills, talents and experience to bring to the table. Now I understand that’s how we move forward.”

SAGE WILLIAMS
SERVICESHIP INTERN, MCCOOK, NEB.

 

Mark Graff, a local banker a significant stakeholder in the McCook community, has helped us with budgeting and getting connections with people who have financial positions. We were also able to meet with a state fire marshal to ensure the safety of the museum and see what potential changes or additions could be made to the Carnegie Library.

We have been in touch with other individuals who are excited to get on board with executing our plan of action. This has been valuable in ensuring that the community has interest in the museum’s future. All of these connections have been a vital part of the process in moving forward!

 

 

 

McCook THETA Camps

THETA camp is in its final stretch down here in McCook. It is crazy to look back on how fast this summer has gone and where we are at now. It feels like just yesterday we were rushing down to the radio station to promote our THETA camp.

We’ve covered a lot of ground to this point. Various modules have covered topics from aquaponics to nutrition to technology. All of our teachings have kept the students very engaged and allowed to them to relate the information we are supplying them to the real world right away. Although we have hit some road blocks along the way, as any good project will, it has helped as individuals by making us to work on our problem-solving skills to make the best out of the situations.

“The children’s willingness to learn and the opportunity to teach them pertinent information that we have learned throughout our undergraduate education is truly invaluable. Educating these kids about healthy life choices will ultimately make a lasting positive impact in their lives.”

COLLIN FLEECS
SERVICESHIP INTERN, MCCOOK THETA CAMPS

Throughout our last week we will be focusing on our business module. This module is unique as it will allow us to apply our teachings directly to the community. Red Willow County Fair will be held in McCook next week, and we will be selling produce at the fair as part of our module. This is a great opportunity for us to show the community what we have been doing and the progress we have made throughout the summer. We also think it is great for the students as they can take our teachings directly into the community in a timely manner.

Looking back on the summer as a whole, we’ve had a great experience here in McCook. The community has been very welcoming and we are very grateful for that. We’ve really enjoyed the shadowing opportunities as well as the volunteering opportunities that we have been able to capitalize on.

RFI has really pushed us out of our comfort zones this summer which is a great thing. It can be very uncomfortable or awkward to be put in this position but this is where the most personal growth happens. It can be difficult to come into an unfamiliar, rural community without knowing anyone and trying to complete a project, but McCook has been very accepting of our presence. We’ve covered a lot of ground this summer and have worked to leave a legacy that will have lasting effects. This summer has been an amazing experience for THETA camp.

“The THETA students have really enjoyed this summer as we have challenged them as well as helped them learn new information that can be utilized directly into their lives.”

BRAD SCHOCH
SERVICESHIP INTERN, MCCOOK THETA CAMPS

 

 

 

Neligh, Neb.

“Even with the challenges that hinder growth in rural areas, there are people who want to make the are better and are dedicated to seeing change happen. It is easier to go against opposition with people on your side.”

MICHAYLA GOEDEKEN
SERVICESHIP INTERN, NELIGH, NEB.

The last two weeks for us have been packed with meetings and scrabbling to get all that we can done in our remaining time in Neligh. We decided on a service project creating a strategic plan for the cemetery and cleaning up White Buffalo Girl’s grave. Michayla has been doing a lot of reading and research for the entrepreneurship curriculum she has been working on. We also led the Strategic Planning Committee’s meeting this week.

Last week on Jul. 12, 2018 we went down to Lincoln, Neb., for the Governor’s Economic Development Summit. While we were there, we attended sessions on agricultural development and alternatives to typical primary and secondary schooling that gave us ideas on how to implement these practices into our communities. Next week we are going to complete the housing survey and help with the county fair.

Some meetings we have attended over the past few weeks include: Neligh Economic Development Board meeting, Neligh City Council meeting, Clearwater Village Board meeting, Clearwater Economic Development Board meeting, Neligh and Clearwater Chamber of Commerce meeting, Fall Festival meeting and the Governor’s Economic Development Summit.

“There is so much potential in Neligh, it is exciting to see the opportunities that are going to become available from the passion people have.”

RHIANNON COBB
SERVICESHIP INTERN, NELIGH, NEB.

 

 

 

Seward, Neb.

We have spent the past couple of weeks trying to finish our projects. We have been working on planning our next two events and trying to come up with a club to take them over.

When reflecting on her serviceship, Maddie said, “My time in Seward has flown by. I am so grateful for Jonathon, Suzanne and Megan here at the Seward County Chamber and Development Partnership for guiding and supporting us during our time. I am also grateful for all of the new people I have met along the way. I will definitely miss everyone here!”

“It has been a rather quick 10 weeks in Seward! I am happy to have gone through this experience, and it certainly helped me grow as a person and develop skills that I didn’t know I didn’t possess.”

RAGHAV KIDAMBI
SERVICESHIP INTERN, SEWARD, NEB.

 

Currently we have a newcomer event planned on Oct. 13, 2018, at Bottle Rocket Brewing Company during their Oktoberfest celebrations! Bottle Rocket has let us use a space for a few hours on that Saturday to welcome newcomers to Seward County. During Oktoberfest there will be a lot of beer, games, authentic German food and music! We are still trying to figure out the logistics of our other events due to a lack of reciprocation from the entities that we are currently trying to work with.

Additionally, the Newcomer & Resident Ice Cream Social was quite the success. It was held over the weekend, on the Jul. 15, 2018. We, along with Jonathan, were also interviewed by Karina from RFI before the ice cream social began.

The meet and greet group that we helped put together were present. Members of the meet and greet group made use of the opportunity to network with newcomers and residents.

It was fun to see people getting together and having a pompous community time. We were also able to distribute a survey to those who were part of the meet and greet group, to get feedback on changes that could improve the next events that will be taking place in the future.

“This serviceship has made me grow as a leader and has also made me more confident. I am so grateful for all of the new people I have met along the way.”

MADDIE MILLER
SERVICESHIP INTERN, SEWARD, NEB.
Read More

This Week In Serviceship 2018: Week Eight!

July 13, 2018
Broken Bow, Neb. Just like the infamous taco truck showing its potential by making regular appearances around Broken Bow, our projects are starting to show their potential and even have begun to wrap up! We finished our promotion cards for …

Broken Bow, Neb.

Just like the infamous taco truck showing its potential by making regular appearances around Broken Bow, our projects are starting to show their potential and even have begun to wrap up! We finished our promotion cards for Sturgis this past week and have plans to distribute them to Christian biker groups that ride through Broken Bow on the way up to Sturgis as well as the bikers that go to the neighboring town of Arnold this coming weekend for Devil’s Den. Devil’s Den is a biker rally in which they also do a poker run to raise money for several different causes.

“It really does seem like we just arrived and started on our projects yesterday, but that isn’t the case. The connections we have made and lessons learned have been super helpful in our projects and future plans.”

JESSICA WEEDER
SERVICESHIP INTERN, BROKEN BOW, NEB.

 

On Jul. 2, the YMCA project really got moving. During that morning, we and the steering committee, which we put together, met with Denny Placzek who is the CEO/Executive Director of the Kearney YMCA. The steering committee showed their strong interest in getting a YMCA facility to the city of Broken Bow. Denny had mentioned during that meeting that he has never seen such a driven group of community members determined to get things moving so quickly.

Because the National YMCA does not currently give out any more charters for new YMCAs, we would need to be a branch of Kearney’s. Due to Kearney being in the middle of their own capital campaign, we discussed that the next step for Broken Bow would be to bring an activities/programs director in. This way, community members can get used to the idea of using YMCA programming and then potentially move into a facility in a year or so.

On Tuesday, Jul. 10, our project continued to gain momentum as we went around to area YMCAs with a few members of the steering committee to address questions as well as get a better feel for what could be in Broken Bow. The members attending the YMCA tours were Andrew Ambriz, Don Cantrel, Veronica Schmidt, Jack Lindstrom, Leanne Gamet and Jessica Weeder. Looking at the YMCAs in Gothenburg, Lexington and Kearney showed what a potential YMCA in a community this size could look like. The different directors and CEOs we met with were able to answer questions as well as bring up topics that weren’t even thought of previously.


On Wednesday, Jul. 11, we had the opportunity to tour BD, a local medical tool manufacturer here in Broken Bow. It was amazing to see the scale that they produce things such as medical tubes and cups. The entire facility has such a rhythm and it was very cool to see how every part of the factory worked together.

“We have gotten so much more done than I could have ever expected here in Broken Bow. It has been so cool to have community members ask us about our progress and be able to say that things are really moving forward.”

LEANNE GAMET
SERVICESHIP INTERN, BROKEN BOW, NEB.

 

Market on the Square continues to happen here in the community. The farther into the summer, the more and more vendors they have gotten. There is a wide variety of things from baked goods, to homemade jewelry, to food trucks that most of the businesses around the square support during the lunch hour. This week featured sidewalk sales and 92.3 KBEAR Country was on-location.

 

 

Columbus, Neb.

Recently, Dr. Helen Fagan asked us to think about the legacy that we are leaving with this community. The answer to that question revolves around the letter R. Recruitment. Reach. Retention. Results.

Recruitment. We post job openings, help design marketing materials, and help make connections that will benefit the community in the future. The best way to find out what and who Columbus really needs is to visit with businesses around the community. That has lead us to take several business tours while we are in town. This effort has also lead us to meet with various “movers and shakers” in the community. Columbus has introduced us to many people and we have been able to pick their brains on various topics related to their industries.

Reach. To reach the community and connect them with events around town, we have redesigned the community calendar, known as “GOOD Times,” and are running a campaign during the county fair to increase awareness. This calendar will include events from businesses and organizations from all around Columbus. Citizens will be able to look at the calendar and know what is happening on any given day and find events that they may be interested in.

Retention. These projects all relate back to quality of life and pride in the community. One of the quality of life events we helped with is Red, White, and Kaboom, the Columbus’s Independence Day celebration. We have also been running our 10 Days of Something Good Trivia Challenge. This event is designed to help bring awareness to the community brand and to encourage people to be proud of their community. The event is getting great traction on social media, which is really exciting! Another retention effort we are working on is the Young Nebraskans Week Conference that will take place in September. We are finalizing plans and working with our committee to gather speakers and sponsors for the event. On top of all that, we help plan and run Interns’ Night Out. This is an event for summer interns to get together and network as well as learn a little about what the community has to offer.

“Collaboration is a key element here in Columbus. Everyone is always working together. It starts with volunteers and continues up the chain of command. In this community, collaboration turns dreams into reality.”

AMBER ROSS
SERVICESHIP INTERN, COLUMBUS, NEB.

 

Results. As the summer winds down, we find ourselves looking to our hosts to see what our role was this summer. Kara Asmus, Workforce Coordinator for the Chamber, said we are encouraging people to embrace the community brand, which is what the Chamber is really trying to do. KC Belitz, Columbus Area Chamber President, said that we are getting results. “The obvious answer is that you are getting work done. There are projects we wouldn’t have gotten to this summer. We never would have done them without you guys. Your internship may end in three weeks but you’re not going anywhere!”

In sum, RFI’s involvement in Columbus this summer has been invaluable to the community. Recruitment. Retention. Reach. Results. The Rural Futures Institute has allowed us to leave a positive legacy here in Columbus.

 

 

 

Cozad, Neb.

This week, we wrapped up our Music Mondays concert series. Music Mondays have been such a success that the Cozad Development Corporation is hoping to find another group in town to continue it next year. The past few weeks we have hosted Miles From Dublin, The Wonderful World of Woody, and wrapped up the series with a children’s band – The String Beans. Attendance grew with each concert bringing the whole community together for some summer entertainment.

“It’s time to think differently about our small communities. Cozad is taking a creative approach to solving challenges.”

CHRISTY COOPER
SERVICESHIP INTERN, COZAD, NEB.

 

Two weeks ago we hosted our three finalists for ‘Pitch It Cozad: Win This Space’ for their final presentations. Our selection committee had a wonderful time hearing the business ideas and had such a difficult time choosing a winner that we created a prize package for our runner-up as well. Jody Laird won our original building and prize package with her business Double L Embroidery. The Cozad Development Corporation purchased another building in downtown Cozad so that Chelsie Michalewicz could start her business, Sweet Water Outfitters, a western boutique. Cozad is excited to build their downtown as a shopping destination with these two new businesses.

Most recently, Jen and Christy headed to Lincoln for the Nebraska Diplomats Banquet and the Nebraska Governor’s Economic Development Summit. The Nebraska Diplomats are a group of community leaders who use their personal and professional connections to promote the state’s quality of life for future business. Our lead mentor, Jen, was asked to speak about our Pitch It in Cozad project at the Governor’s Summit the next day. Governor Pete Ricketts applauded Cozad’s work during his final remarks. It was an incredible opportunity to network with other community leaders and hear the great work they are doing.

 

 

 

 

Norfolk, Neb.

Time is flying as we are already finishing our eighth week in Norfolk, Neb.! We have been primarily working with the Norfolk Visitor’s Bureau lately, while also tying up loose ends on our projects for Daycos.

Our work with the Visitor’s Bureau has consisted of brainstorming and strategizing how we can improve the retail and service sector in Norfolk. We have completed our research of secret shopping and completing windshield assessments of businesses across town. We have attended a meeting with the Downtown Norfolk Association and other strong retail business leaders to discuss our mission in Norfolk and to get their perspective. Overall, we have found some common themes: strong customer service and cross-promotion are incredibly needed for the future of retail. Therefore, we have come up with multiple strategies and plans on how to upsell and cross-promote Norfolk. We have planned to host a focus group discussion on Jul. 16 with retail business leaders to share our research and talk about what changes need to be made. Essentially, we want to communicate why it is important to create an experience for shoppers and to refer other Norfolk businesses, then brainstorm different processes on how to do that. We are also in the process of creating strategies for incentivizing upselling in Norfolk, creating a customer service training program, marketing Norfolk retail as a whole and analyzing how to improve the retail options across town. We plan to give these strategies to the Visitor’s Bureau in their final portfolio at the end of our time in Norfolk.

“Making a difference is very possible through work in a small town. Norfolk has been such a positive example of a rural community with self-determination to constantly improve. It is inspiring to think about how Nebraska as a whole can be improved through work like this in rural communities.”

SAMANTHA GUENTHER
SERVICESHIP INTERN, NORFOLK, NEB.

 

As for Daycos, we have started creating our final portfolio to give them at the end of the summer, as well. We will be facilitating a final meeting at the end of the month to share the videos, hiring process outline, and wall of aim projects that we have completed. We are very grateful that Daycos has treated us well during our summer in Norfolk. We are proud to have been a part of such a great company that we have learned so much from.

Additionally, we have continued to submerse ourselves in the Norfolk community. Big Bang Boom fireworks show debuted on Ju. 1. We were both invited to a behind the scenes get-together and were able to attend the spectacular show. We have attended a company picnic with Daycos to celebrate the beginning of summer. We have shared our project details with the Visitors Bureau Advisory Board. We have also been invited to attend and speak at the Rotary Club meetings. The Norfolk community has continued to be welcoming and warm, even after we have been here for some time. We are very grateful to be partnered with such a great community.

“We are so grateful to have Cheyenne and Samantha here this summer with us at Daycos for 5 weeks. We did not know what to expect when we applied to have RFI interns with us and were nervous that we would not have enough for them to do or have a clear enough picture about the outcomes we were hoping for with the work,” said Tammy Day, co-owner of Daycos, Inc. “How silly it was for us to worry! These young women have been an excellent addition to Daycos, are incredibly intelligent, creative and self-motivated, and have added so much value to our company that we are sorry we only have them for half the time. What a wonderful opportunity for us to work with such amazing young people who are interested in life and work in rural places. Thank you for matching Cheyenne and Samantha with us! We will be so sad to see them go.”

 

 

 

Omaha Land Bank

It is crazy that week eight is ending at the Omaha Municipal Land Bank. With only having two weeks left at the Land Bank, Sydney and Kyle are excited to start finishing up and perfecting their projects. Sydney has been able to help with many different parts of OMLB.  She has been busy working on communications with Laura. Planning and setting dates for future social media posts has took up a large part of her time the last few weeks. She has also been helping Marty, the executive director, with documenting and updating certain documents on the OMLB company eProperty site.

Throughout this whole internship it has been a learning experience. Sydney has been able to help with multiple projects and loves having the variety in her day. She has been able to talk and understand what each person in the office does and how they contribute to the Omaha Land Bank team. Each of the team members plays a vital role in the success to the Land Bank. With the Land Banks success, it seems work will only continue to build up which is very exciting. Working here has really made Sydney realize the importance of teamwork and how well the Land Bank does it. She hopes to be a part of a team like this in her future.

This week through the Land Bank, Kyle had a chance to participate in a community project that was put on through the City of Omaha Planning Department. The City of Omaha chooses a focus area where development and change should happen in a concentrated area for three years at a time. This area focused on an old street car node today located at the intersection of 24th and Pratt. In this area there is a large vacant lot that measures approximately 125’ x 165’. The goal of the group was to first walk around the neighborhood to get a feel for the area and the existing infrastructure. After about an hour of inventory as a group the Salvation Army hosted us to brainstorm and discuss with others what might best benefit the area. This grouping was of those not from the immediate area to provide a set of fresh eyes and recommendations for the Neighborhood Association in the area to look over and compare with lists they have made as well as those created by planning sessions held by the City Planning Department.

One major takeaway was to highlight that those in different areas all have the same desires for their neighborhoods and that different areas have strengths that may not be immediately apparent. Another fun fact was that the intersection was the original site of The University of Omaha. The chance to be involved in community development that will be enacted by mid-November is exciting as this is something I will see progress made on while attending school after I have finished my time as an RFI intern. In the last couple of weeks Sydney and Kyle will be looking for as many opportunities in Omaha as we can to learn from others and try to contribute a small piece of the larger picture.

 

 

 

Red Cloud, Neb.

In the last two weeks here in Red Cloud we have mostly been getting everything ready on our end for our economic development plan to be the most updated it can be for our presentation of it this Friday, Jul. 13, for city council and other members of the community. We have made a lot of updates, added a lot of information and have reached the stage where we really need feedback from key people in the community to know what we need to update and change to have it completely ready to go by the time we leave Red Cloud in less then 3 weeks. Our presentation on Friday will be given at two times during the day, and will have a PowerPoint accompanying it along with hard copies of the plan, and a flyer that summarizes the plan and the main actions from it.

We do have a final presentation planned for our last day here which will be to present the final copy of the plan and will be open to everyone in the community, but this meeting being one that is focused on getting feedback from the key members of the community it is mainly invite only. After this presentation we will be able to dive back into the economic plan and have our last two weeks to update and change it so that it is as effective as it can be.

“Looking back, it is hard to believe how little I had known about community development. In only a few weeks I’ve become far more competent and confident about what it takes to move a community forward.”

TRENTON BUHR
SERVICESHIP INTERN, RED CLOUD, NEB.

 

Over the weekend we had the opportunity to attend the Good Living Tour that was been hosted in Red Cloud this past Friday, Jul. 6. This was a great chance to attend a community event just as fellow Red Cloud citizens, and it was a lot of fun!

Other than working on our main goal these last two weeks and having some fun we have been working on some supplementary things for the plan and some other projects for the community. We picked up work on a clean up project that was started back in June, it involved working on a nuisance home in Red Cloud that the Board of Public Trust, a public group that buys and sells homes through the authority of the city similar to a land bank, owns, and is hoping to be able to sell soon. We were able to work on it this week and got all of the paint scraping done, so now it will just need painted, and a majority of the exterior work is done!

This week, Trevor has created the two resolutions and ballot language that will be needed to pass both LB840 and LB357. Meanwhile, Trenton as been working on getting everything ready for the city to apply for the leadership designation, which will most likely happen after we are gone from Red Cloud, but it is great to see the groundwork laid by him!

“Everything is starting to come together, and I can actually see what the final result of our time here will look like! I honestly never could have imagined that we could of created such a huge impact in this short of an amount of time, and I cannot wait to see what Red Cloud is able to do with the groundwork we are laying out for them!”

TREVOR HARLOW
SERVICESHIP INTERN, RED CLOUD, NEB.
Read More

This Week in Serviceship 2018: Week Seven!

July 6, 2018
Alliance, Neb. “Seeing how far we have come in this project excites me. I am very excited to show the communities of Box Butte County our end result in a few weeks!” HALEY EHRKE SERVICESHIP INTERN, ALLIANCE, NEB.   We …

Alliance, Neb.

“Seeing how far we have come in this project excites me. I am very excited to show the communities of Box Butte County our end result in a few weeks!”

HALEY EHRKE
SERVICESHIP INTERN, ALLIANCE, NEB.

 

Mirissa and Haley’s painted tires beautify Carhenge for their volunteering project.

We can’t believe it is already the 7th week of Serviceship! Things are starting to wind down and we have been editing like crazy for our Marketing Hometown America video! We have continued to meet amazing people and have gotten to do some traveling to surrounding areas on the weekends which has been nice! The main focus of our last two weeks has been to write interview questions, visit businesses, wrap up footage content, and conduct interviews for our final product.

We also attended the Cattle Capital Rodeo this past weekend and got some pictures and video of that. On Jul. 2, we had supper with Bob and Delinda Neville and rode around the town of Alliance selling ice cream in Delinda’s ice cream truck. On Independence Day we celebrated the holiday with our lead mentor Chelsie her family and Susan Unzicker, Executive Director of the Alliance Chamber. On Jul. 6, we visited with Congressman Adrian Smith and the first week of Bands on the Bricks will take place. Bands on the Bricks will be occurring every Friday in July in Alliance and the first Friday of August in Hemingford. We are also excited to experience our first Heritage Days celebration soon!

“It has been really great having Haley and Mirissa here,” said Box Butte General Hospital Promotions Specialist Shae Brennan. “Coming from the eastern part of the state to the western side gives it a different vibe. They are bringing out the best in the video for Box Butte County. I’m really thankful for that and I want this town to grow and be better than it is. I love this community.”

 

We have also finished up our volunteer project at Carhenge. Our lead mentor, Chelsie Herian, gave us six tires and we power washed them and spray painted them. Then we planted flowers in the tires to help beautify Carhenge.

“We are very excited about what we have been doing and are looking forward to putting all of our work together in order to make an amazing video and attract residents to Box Butte County.”

MIRISSA SCHOLTING
SERVICESHIP INTERN, ALLIANCE, NEB.

 

 

 

 

McCook, Neb.

Within the last two weeks, we have cracked down on our museum planning! After a lot of brainstorming and sketches on paper, we have started to use SketchUp to create computerized designs and blueprints of rooms. Our intention with this is to make our creative ideas as visual as possible when we hand our designs over to someone else at the end of the summer. These designs will also be useful for the public to gain an awareness of the plan of action that will be phased in over the next few years. To spark some enthusiasm for the future change and get community members involved, we will be holding a membership drive event in the next few weeks.

“The RFI Serviceship Program has taught me that economic development is the heart and soul of rural Nebraska. It is all about creating community, doing the extraordinary and believing that small towns really do make big waves.”

EMILY FRENZEN
SERVICESHIP INTERN, MCCOOK, NEB.

In addition to the museum planning, we have been working on two projects with McCook’s Economic Development Director Andy Long. The first project is called the McCook Mastermind Alliance. The goal of this group is to bring together highly motivated people who are committed to growing personally and professionally. Promotion and connection are two of our main goals for this project. By accomplishing these two tasks, we feel we will be able help start the engine of this creative and collaborative train.

The other project we are working on is the Accelerated Interns of McCook (AIM), which is a program modeled after the RFI Serviceship unique to the McCook community. High school and college students will apply for existing or new internships in the area, and AIM managers will assist with promotion and application screening. Beyond hiring, the program will focus on creating a close-knit community for interns through bi-weekly meetings with one another and local professionals, as well as social gatherings. Interns will also complete 10 volunteer service hours throughout the summer.

Emily took this photo of Sage while snapping photos for the Southwest Nebraska Tourism Coalition.

Sage and Emily present their museum planning designs to the High Plains Museum Board.

“RFI Serviceship has taught me to appreciate rural communities in a way I never have before. Each community is so unique in some way—its rich history, an invested and diverse group of thinkers and all of those who are continuously looking forward to the future of the community.”

SAGE WILLIAMS
SERVICESHIP INTERN, MCCOOK, NEB.

We are creating marketing materials and applications for both projects while also planning a kickoff event. The theme for the kickoff is a Fiery Fiesta because we are hoping to light a new fire for these projects focused on leadership and community development, and who doesn’t love tacos? We are especially thankful for Andy Long getting us involved in these two projects, as they combine aspects of entrepreneurship and serviceship for rural communities—something we both share a passion for!

On top of all of the work we have been doing on these projects, we have also been having a little fun behind the camera. Last Saturday we hopped in the car to Trenton, Neb., to take some pictures for the Southwest Nebraska Tourism Coalition website. We snapped some pictures of the colorful farmers market corner, the local boutique and the most unique massage therapy business—who would have thought? If you’re looking for hidden gems in Nebraska, Trenton is definitely one to explore!

 

 

 

McCook THETA Camps

“The students of THETA have kept me excited each day by showing an interest in the material that we are supplying them. This is a very rewarding experience to see a student develop an understanding of a topic I’m passionate about.”

BRAD SCHOCH
SERVICESHIP INTERN, MCCOOK THETA CAMPS

THETA continues to keep trucking along as we’ve completed 5 modules of our camp already. It’s crazy to see how fast this summer is passing. It feels as if just last week we were all in Lincoln completing our serviceship training.

At THETA, we are continuing to make impressive advancements as we have expanded our reaches from physical activity and nutrition into technology now as well. It has been a very good mix of speed for both RFI interns as well as our students. The kids continue to stay excited about the material that we are presenting them.

The students specifically loved being able to cross physical activity and technology together and apply both their uses. One way we’ve been able to do this is by assigning IHT monitors, which similar to Fitbits, to each student in order to study their heart rates and physical activity levels for various activities. This is an excellent activity be students get to actually see how much work their body is doing for simple movements compared to complex activities.

“I’ve been excited about the kids’ eagerness to learn and seeing them be able apply the information we teach them directly to their own lives.”

COLLIN FLEECS
SERVICESHIP INTERN, MCCOOK THETA CAMPS

 

An activity utilizing the internet of things allowed students to be creative by trying to connect various objects to the internet and solve a problem that they face whether it be at home or in their school. It has been awesome seeing kids take such an interest in these activities and also be able to continue to develop their problem-solving skills.

We have also had a few volunteer opportunities show up that we were more than eager to help out with. We helped the community set up some very heavy pool equipment for a swim meet as well as doing various things within the YMCA. We feel that the community is very thankful with anything that we get to help out with and that makes it that much easier to lend a hand where ever it is needed.

THETA camp was scheduled for a break during the week of Independence Day as it is difficult to keep our numbers up with the various activities going on. We are eager to return to camp and hope the kids are too!

“The kids have shown tremendous growth in their application of what we are teaching. They’re taking the time to really dive in and try to understand what we are teaching them.”

TYAN BOYER
SERVICESHIP INTERN, MCCOOK THETA CAMPS

 

 

 

Neligh, Neb.

In these last two weeks, we have finished the Neligh mapping report and finished collecting data for the northeast mapping report. The Neligh mapping report was formatted and sent as a confidential file to the strategic planning committee. The northeast mapping report just needs several more hours of formatting work and it will be finished as well.

We have also been out in the community and were busy with business visits and talking to community members. On Jun. 29, we delivered root-beer floats with State Farm to businesses around town.  We also helped register floats for the Independence Day parade. We also have been spending time recording, editing and scheduling videos.

We went out to Theile Dairy in Clearwater, Neb., to show support for the community as Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts paid a visit to a local dairy. We got a tour of the farm and met farmers from the Clearwater area.

Michayla and Rhiannon pose with Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts during his Ag Adventure in Clearwater, Neb.

Rhiannon and Michayla drive around Neligh on Independence Day to record videos and take photos of the community.

Michayla has been working on entrepreneurship curriculum that will be used during the school year as a class that meets once bi-weekly. I attended an executive meeting to get ideas and input on the outline. Rhiannon has taken charge of a large service project for us. Community members want the cemetery to be inventoried, and they want the records to be condensed. We are going to then do a map and color coding system to help families find open plots and their loved ones.

On the Jul. 25, the RFI team paid us a visit, and it was great to talk with them. We always learn so much from their wisdom and perspective. It meant a lot to us that our coordinators cared enough to visit and then to stay for an extended period of time.

We also had a strategic planning committee meeting. It is composed of chamber members, city council members and community representatives. We had introductions and then collectively did a SWOT analysis to go through best and worst-case scenario of what Neligh would look like in ten years.

“It still amazes me that even when there are other things going on, people care so much for each other and want what is best for their community.”

MICHAYLA GOEDEKEN
SERVICESHIP INTERN, NELIGH, NEB.

 

 

 

Seward, Neb.

The past few weeks were filled with a good amount of progress pertaining to our projects. Our newcomer ice cream social event is to take place on Jul. 15, and we are excited for it. We have partnered with the Kiwanis Club of Seward and Lee’s Refrigeration to help us sustain this project and make it a year-to-year event.

We are still in the planning stages of the other two events that we have in mind. We do have an idea as to what we want those events to be like and who we are trying to partner with, but because everyone is so busy we have been planning at a slower pace. Our second and third events are tentatively planned to take place in October 2018 and April 2019. It is also a blessing in disguise that we have organizations and civic groups that are happy and willing to work with us on a professional capacity. They are very much looking forward to what we come up with and are not hesitant to help sustain the events towards the future for the betterment of the community and the county as a whole.

Another one of our projects in updating the Seward County website. We are taking this information from each of the communities and adding to the website. This will then help newcomers and visitors to get new information about the town they are visiting.

Vintage sign hangs in Bee, Neb., a village in Seward County that Raghav and Maddie visited this week.

After we finish updating the website, we hope to receive a grant from the Seward Visitor’s Committee to make Seward County magnets. These magnets would have the website’s URL on them and we would pass them out to each community to hand out. We are hoping to hear from the committee about the grant later this month.

Overall, we have helped enable the community to utilize better, easier and convenient channels for receiving information about the community and the events that take place within it. We have also gone around to each community in the county and gathered information of businesses, utilities, trash services, school and organizations. The goal here is to help people out to get to know their community better and create channels of communication within communities that did not exist before.

Read More

This Week in Serviceship 2018: Week Six!

June 29, 2018
Broken Bow, Neb. Since we are at the halfway point in our internship, we have realized a couple of things. First, we have gotten a lot done on our projects and have met a lot of people who are very …

Broken Bow, Neb.

Since we are at the halfway point in our internship, we have realized a couple of things. First, we have gotten a lot done on our projects and have met a lot of people who are very willing to help us out. Second, we have a lot left to do before we leave at the beginning of August.

Our last two weeks have included attending more economic development meetings, attending another radio talk show, having lunch with Chuck, Theresa and Helen and continuing to enjoy Broken Bow, Neb. We continue to host our weekly coffees, and this past Monday, we tried something new. We hosted ‘Refreshments and Feedback’ at a local bar and grill to try to draw more of the younger population out. We had our last coffee with the community on Wednesday morning which was a great way to tie up loose ends and get some final feedback.

Moving forward with our major projects has been very rewarding. After some phone calls we have finally obtained banners from Budweiser and Coca-Cola for different locations in town welcoming the Sturgis bikers. In addition to our signs, we are working on a wallet sized promotion card for the Bikers which will allow them to use this coupon to get great deals and discounts at different locations around town.

“Getting to tour the small towns in Custer County has really opened my eyes to the issues that a lot of small communities have in common. These issues include keeping businesses going and affordable housing which are two solvable problems. Not only have I seen the problems but I have seen so much innovation and creativity which is really assuring.”

JESSICA WEEDER
SERVICESHIP INTERN, BROKEN BOW, NEB.

We will be meeting with the CEO of the YMCA in Kearney next Monday to get a better idea of what an updated recreational facility could look like for the community of Broken Bow. This will be a great opportunity for the steering committee that we have complied to ask questions and see what the next steps to improve recreational services in the Broken Bow area is.

Broken Bow Serviceship Interns featured in story in the Custer County Chief.

We have decided to start getting to know the surrounding communities more. On Monday, Jun. 25, we went to Arnold, Neb. We were able to meet business owners, enjoy local food and discuss local housing issues with Cheryl Carson who is the economic development director in Arnold. On Thursday, Jun. 27, we ventured again to a different community in Custer County—Sargent. We were able to tour some of the businesses there including the new bar, Mr. Rudy’s, and the recently updated grocery store. Chris, the economic development director there, showed us most of the town which included some of the housing projects, the school and many of the antique shops they have. The community hosts many antique based celebrations that bring hundreds of visitors to the town.

Jessica is making strides on getting Broken Bow listed as a Leadership Certified Community and is volunteering for the local 4H. Leanne has started to write for the Custer County Chief with her first article in this week’s newspaper.

We finally got to try to the local taco truck which was totally worth the hype that we have heard from several people around town. In other food news, the editor of the Custer County Chief, Donnis Hueftle-Bullock, invited us over for a grill out Tuesday evening and it was the first time we cooked while in Custer County as we are lucky enough to have our meals provided by the Hospital.

“I have really appreciated seeing other towns in Custer County. You can see all of the aspects that need work but also the aspects that community members pride themselves on. These are all things that I get me thinking about what I will need if I were to move back to a rural community in the future.”

LEANNE GAMET
SERVICESHIP INTERN, BROKEN BOW, NEB.

 

 

 

Columbus, Neb.

Clayton discusses his RFI Serviceship experience in Columbus on air with KLIR Radio.

As KC Belitz would say, “HEY TEAM!” That is exactly how we have tackled our projects at the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce—as a team. From brainstorming sessions to listing jobs for chamber members to recruiting campaign partners to pulling weeds for a streetscape project, there has been no shortage of opportunities for teamwork. The Chamber is never boring! Or maybe it’s just Clayton’s excitement for the unexpected stint in the sun, “… and then we get to pull weeds, I’M SO EXCITED!” Those weeds didn’t stand a chance.

The Young Nebraskans Week Committee met last week for the first time. We are working to incorporate their best suggestions from the meeting into our plan for the event. The next step is to create a budget and find sources of funding. This is a great group to work with and we hope to plan a successful event for them and the young professionals of the Columbus area.

“Columbus is unlike anywhere I have ever worked. People are creative, innovative, and forward thinking–they don’t mind paving a new trail, as long as the destination is worth it.”

AMBER ROSS
SERVICESHIP INTERN, COLUMBUS, NEB.
 

Over the past three weeks, we have toured and visited different places in the community, including Behlen Manufacturing, Scotus Central Catholic High School, Nebraska Public Power District and KLIR Radio Station. These visits have opened our eyes to the challenges the community faces and what is done to address those challenges.

There is also no shortage of forward-thinking. “Columbus is unlike anywhere I have ever worked,” Amber noted. “People are creative, innovative, and forward thinking–they don’t mind paving a new trail, as long as the destination is worth it.” And that destination includes diversity and inclusion. Columbus hasn’t always been diverse, yet their attitude towards it has always been inclusive. “It doesn’t matter where you came from,” Kara Asmus explained, “it matters where you are going.”

That means moving forward as a team, which brings us back to KC’s comment at the beginning. It takes more than one key player to make things happen. While KC is an incredible chamber president known throughout the entire state of Nebraska, he cannot do what he does without the incredible team behind him. We are really fortunate that we work with such a great group of leaders. The same for the City of Columbus. Community development takes a village—a team.

 

 

 

Norfolk, Neb.

As we begin our sixth week in our serviceship experience, we begin our time with the Norfolk Visitor’s Bureau and Chamber of Commerce. We have still found ourselves very involved with Daycos’ day-to-day projects and still have some of our own projects with them at the last stages. In this summary we will outline our remaining commitments to Daycos and give a brief overview of what we believe our next four weeks will look like the Bureau. Lastly, we will update you on the personal takeaways that we have both gathered thus far.

Before I (Cheyenne) left for Iceland and Norway we came up with a list of deliverables we could hand into Daycos at the end of the summer. The first deliverable we wanted to make sure that we would have three videos done for them explain who is Daycos, how they do what they do and why they believe in giving back. The next project we will finish for Daycos is a “Wall of Aim” bulletin board project we have come up with to create internal and community pride. We are also working on to systemize and reorganize the hiring process that Daycos is currently using and make sure it is in line with their culture and values. Lastly, we are holding an all company meeting to create a company answer to the question “What is Daycos?” because we’ve found there’s a lot of variety in the answers we get to this question.

At the end of the summer we will create two project portfolios—one for the Bureau and one for Daycos. These four projects will be highlighted in Daycos’ portfolio so that they can use the products of our internship long after we leave.

In the next four weeks, along with tying up loose ends with Daycos, we will be working on creating a marketing strategy for Norfolk’s retail sector. We have been tasked to answer the question, “How do we cross-promote the entire community’s retail?” This is a problem specific to Norfolk because they have two main retail areas­—one is downtown and one is based out of a mall.

“The serviceship experience is so rewarding because you’re expected to truly become a part of someone else’s community — to live and learn and laugh just like the other community members.”

CHEYENNE GERLACH
SERVICESHIP INTERN, NORFOLK, NEB.

 

We have many modes of answering this overarching question. One way is by doing Secret Shopper surveys and Windshield Assessments of Norfolk’s retail areas and businesses. We are also working to schedule interviews and meetings with all of Norfolk’s retail top stakeholders, including business owners, committee members, and community leaders. We then have a massive brainstorming session scheduled for this Friday to come up with a way to strategize the next steps for retail and what our deliverables for Norfolk’s Visitor Bureau will be. An additional project we’re starting to pick up is to develop a customer service training service that the city could provide for its retail businesses to improve the visitor experience.

As far as personal gains go, Sam truly feels like her passions have really related to the culture and team building that we have had the opportunity to experience from our time at Daycos. She has also noticed that there’s such an abundance of wonderful people here in Norfolk. We have had many conversations about how communities can cultivate such strong groups of people because of what cool things we have experienced this summer. I feel like I have strengthened a lot of strengths that I have had. I’m never driven by numbers or hours, but rather by objectives. Since I missed two weeks of work this has been something I have had a great time expressing. While I will probably come close to making up the hours that I missed, I will make the objectives that I set. The goals that I made were considering 10 weeks of work, not 7 or 8. So hard work and drive is something that this internship has made me take even further.

“One of my favorite things about the serviceship experience is that I can apply my education and experience to the work that I am contributing in Norfolk every day. I love that I am able to better my leadership, knowledge and skills through my work to constantly learn and grow. It is exciting to think about how I can apply my experiences in the future!”

SAMANTHA GUENTHER
SERVICESHIP INTERN, NORFOLK, NEB.

When we asked Brandon Day, the CEO of Daycos, for his thoughts on our serviceship, he said, “Daycos has been very fortunate to have Samantha Guenther and Cheyenne Gerlach as Rural Futures Institute interns this summer. In a short time, they have become a part of the organization, blending in well with our people and culture, and becoming a valuable part of our team. Having these smart, capable young women come in to our organization, and look at everything with a fresh set of eyes, and new ideas, has been invaluable. They have offered unique perspectives, probing questions, and great suggestions. A number of employees have commented how much they have enjoyed getting the chance to talk to them about our company, and how much value they got from the interactions. Despite only being here a few weeks, they have made a lasting positive impact on our organization. My only regret is that they can’t stay longer.”

 

 

 

Omaha Land Bank

Kyle and Sydney visit the office of Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert.

Week five and six at the Omaha Land Bank has been a learning experience for both Kyle and Sydney. Sydney has started to help in the foreclosure process by helping the team generate documents to assist in the ten-step process of foreclosure. The land bank is a busy place in efforts to transform Omaha’s distressed properties into positive community assets. Every day, Sydney, Kyle and their co-workers are making huge strides in the success of many Omaha neighborhoods.

Sydney has been busy with various meetings. One that stuck out the most was when she had the opportunity to visit the Scooters that was recently opened in North Omaha. She had the opportunity to meet with the owner of that store location, Julian Young, who is a North Omaha advocate and entrepreneur. The opening of Scooters in North Omaha was more than just a coffee shop, it was a way for Young to tell the people of North Omaha that they mattered, and it was a place for the community to come together. It was inspirational for Sydney to hear Julian Young talk about his love and passion for his community. It made her question, what if everyone had a love for the community like Young? How would our communities look today?

The College World Series has been making our office location very busy. We are only blocks away from the number one destination in Omaha currently—TD Ameritrade. Our office had the opportunity to go tour the downtown area with all the pop-up shops, food trucks, and a top-notch train the Governor of Arkansas has been living in the last two weeks. While the unfamiliar faces have been very welcomed by our staff, we are ready to have our morning and afternoon commutes back to normal!

“It feels good coming to work and knowing that I will be transforming not only many of Omaha’s rundown neighborhoods but also many individuals lives. Day by day, the Land Bank is giving opportunities to those individuals who had no hope in owning a house. It’s a great group to be a part of.”

SYDNEY ARMBRUSTER
SERVICESHIP INTERN, OMAHA LAND BANK

Sydney and Kyle have been taking quite a few more trips with professional staff this week to various events around town. After the Board meeting we were able to visit several floors of the city building including a quick trip to the mayor’s office. We have gone on trips to the planning department and have seen various meeting with our legal teams in dealing with the foreclosure team.

Dealing with the foreclosure team has really shown me a lot more of the actual day to day work of those around the legal field. The eye-opening experience has definitely solidified my choice in the program I have gone into and made me glad I have gone the current route I am on. We have entered a new process of the acquisition of 500 properties for the Land Bank and knowing that we made so much progress towards getting these lots and homes ready for new life is a rewarding experience.

 

 

 

Red Cloud, Neb.

Trenton and Trevor are in Red Cloud, Neb. for their serviceship. These past couple of weeks, we have spent a lot more time in the office working on the economic development plan. We spent the earlier part of our serviceship being truly immersed in the community and participating in all the events they had going on. Having that initial experience was a great way to build our understanding of the community, and really see what it has to offer. Being able to spend more time devoted in the office as given us plenty of time to work on the economic plan, which is great because that’s what we came here to do!

“It’s exciting to hear both visitors and locals say, ‘There’s a lot going on in Red Cloud!’ I’m hoping that our work here can be the compass which guides that energy into tangible outcomes.”

TRENTON BUHR
SERVICESHIP INTERN, RED CLOUD, NEB.

 

Trevor hangs up a poster promoting the Good Living Tour which is coming to Red Cloud on Jul. 7, 2018.

This week and last week we worked on reviewing our second draft of the plan, and then finishing the third draft, which is currently waiting on review from our lead mentor and members of the Economic Development Advisory Board.

We really focused on expanding the plan beyond just a basic structure and added plenty of guiding materials like a future land use plan, a marketing strategy, action plans for all public groups, and a few other things we are still working through. Altogether I think we have come a long way with our plan, and I hope when it is all said and done that the city has a clear and cohesive direction to move towards.

We have had some opportunities to step outside of the office though! The Good Living Tour, which is a concert series put on across a handful of towns in Nebraska that feature local Nebraska based bands, is coming to Red Cloud on July 7th. We were tasked with going around to different businesses in the community to seek sponsorships for the event to help cover the cost to not have it all came directly from the tourism department. We did have some luck with a couple businesses and some generous individuals, but we happened to be placed right at the end of a donation frenzy. There were a few major events in Red Cloud in the month prior, and little league baseball had it’s season start, so most businesses were already tapped out from these event, making it very hard to contribute to this cause. Luckily there should be enough sponsorship money overall to cover the event when all things are accounted for!

We met with the city superintendent and the organizers for the Good Living tour in the city park to decide where to place the stage, food vendors, mobile skate park, and other components of the tour.

We also had an opportunity to meet with Jeff Armstrong, a school board member, to get a better understanding of the state of the school system. We value the quality of education in any town setting, and we hope to give the school board and administrators a clear path forward to grow within the community!

“I really think everything is coming together for this community. They are growing, changing and becoming the town they were always meant to be. I cannot wait to see the progress Red Cloud makes in the future, and I hope the work we do here this summer will have a positive impact on the community for years to come!”

TREVOR HARLOW
SERVICESHIP INTERN, RED CLOUD, NEB.

 

Read More

This Week in Serviceship 2018: Week Five!

June 22, 2018
Alliance, Neb. “I think this experience has allowed residents to think about the assets they have in their community because it’s not something you think about every day when you live here. I know it has made me think about …

Alliance, Neb.

“I think this experience has allowed residents to think about the assets they have in their community because it’s not something you think about every day when you live here. I know it has made me think about what I value in my home community.”

MIRISSA SCHOLTING
SERVICESHIP INTERN, ALLIANCE, NEB.

The past two weeks in Box Butte County have flown by! We are very fortunate that Scott Frost, Matt Davison and Bill Moos came to town for an afternoon! We got to listen to them all speak and then got a picture with Scott Frost. We also got to meet former Husker Jordan Hooper, who is originally from Alliance.

We gave a presentation at The Perfect Blend with BBDC meeting at First National Bank where we introduced ourselves and told everyone a little bit about us and the Marketing Hometown America project. We also had our Marketing Hometown America public action forum where the public voted on what needs to be done in the next coming years in order to retain and attract new residents to Box Butte County. Chuck Schroeder, Theresa Klein, Helen Fagan, and the new RFI intern Karina from the Rural Futures Institute also visited Alliance this past week! We got to talk and catch up with them as well which was nice!

Haley and Mirissa pose with Scott Frost during his visit to Alliance, Neb.

Mirissa and Haley snap a selfie at the Perfect Blend with BBDC Meeting.

Box Butte County resident Ellen Lierk said, “In the month Mirissa and Haley have been in Box Butte County, they have been a catalyst inspiring us to look at our community and its strengths through their eyes. We look forward to the photos and video they are creating to help us better tell our story. Their enthusiasm, work ethic and positivity is contagious!” Ellen is a former teacher, guidance counselor, business owner, economic developer and pastoral minister.

 

The project has been coming along great. We have come up with hashtags for every town in Box Butte County. They are: #OurAlliance, #HemingfordisHome, and #BountifulBerea. We have also been working on hashtags for other various places around the county like Carhenge, Knight Museum and Sandhills Center and the Alliance Recreation Center. We have taken pictures and video all over both Alliance and Hemingford and have scheduled to take pictures and video in Berea. We have also started to do some editing on the videos we have taken thus far.

“The community of Alliance has invested in us, which in turn has us investing in the community through creating a passion and defined purpose in our project.”

HALEY EHRKE
SERVICESHIP INTERN, ALLIANCE, NEB.

 

 

 

 

McCook, Neb.

Before meeting with the High Plains Museum Board to gauge readiness for change, present our ideas and get feedback, we scheduled individual meetings with the board members. We found it much easier to ask them questions and share our ideas once we had established relationships. They were kind enough to welcome us into their homes or make time to meet us at Sehnert’s, the local coffee and deli hot spot. With each conversation, we got a better taste of McCook’s history.

“More than anything, these last few weeks have taught me that collaboration is key. Making the right connections, being willing to listen and really soak in the wisdom of these rural community leaders is a reward that can’t be replicated elsewhere.”

SAGE WILLIAMS
SERVICESHIP INTERN, MCCOOK, NEB.

 

Emily and Sage pose in the Classic Car Collection and Trails and Rails Museum during their museum road trip around central Nebraska.

Between meetings with board members, we developed an online survey for community members that was boosted on a few of McCook’s social media pages. We gathered over 100 responses that were so helpful in understanding the community’s vision for the museum! Carol Schlegel, our lead mentor, was vital in this process, as she advised us to ask community members similar questions in person. We took her advice and decided to walk up and down Norris Ave, the McCook main street. After going in and out of businesses, we gained even more insight on prioritizing the plan of action for the museum and were able to become more familiar with some friendly faces!

In preparation for the High Plains Museum Board meeting, Carol also took us on a road trip to three more museums! We were able to speak with Kearney’s Tourism Director, Roger Jasnoch, as he guided us through the Classic Car Collection and Trails and Rails Museum, where we met Director Jennifer Murrish. Here, we gathered several ideas for exhibit presentation, sustainable board leadership, and museum donation logistics to bring back to the High Plains Museum. Following our tour of Kearney museums, we buzzed over to Holdrege to the Nebraska Prairie Museum. The enthusiastic director, Dan Christensen, shared with us his passion for the museum and advice on bringing in future generations.

After sharing the results of the surveys and useful tips from other museums at the board meeting, we were able to compose a collective list of which exhibits need to be phased in first. We also got the go-ahead on a couple of our ideas, which meant we were ready to start creating a draft of the museum layout! We drew a couple sketches, brainstormed how to best utilize the space, and did some price checking that we will present to the new High Plains Museum Creative Committee. We will meet with this committee every other week to get consistent feedback.

“At every stage in life, we must accept change and take it on with a heart full of courage. This summer, we have left our ordinary worlds to get out of our comfort zones, find new mentors and jump over unfamiliar hurdles. As we sat down with the RFI staff that traveled to McCook this week, I was reminded that experiences such as serviceship are when deep change really happens.”

EMILY FRENZEN
SERVICESHIP INTERN, MCCOOK, NEB.

 

 

 

Neligh, Neb.

Michayla assists community members prepare breakfast for Tour de Nebraska.

In the last two weeks, we have been going to meetings and working on immediate projects. We’ve also been planning Tour de Nebraska which has somewhat put our other projects on hold. Our mapping reports are set to be done by Thursday of next week so we can start on next step of identifying steps moving forward for the 5 and 10 year plans. We have also been out in the community interviewing members for our video series. Tour de Nerbraska came through Neligh for their first day of travel On Wednesday, Jun. 20. We had to plan where people were going to camp, coordinate the scavenger hunt around Neligh and help coordinate events. We made calls and visits to all the people helping us make the day successful.

In the end, Tour de Nebraska was a success. After all the planning, we made it! It was a long couple of days full of questions and quick changes. We started at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday by preparing eggs and sausage. We made 20 pounds of sausage and 800 scrambled eggs. We had help from community members including the mayor and his wife. It took a couple hours to make all the eggs and sausage; we also set up the kitchen as prep. We then put out road signs to warn drivers to watch for cyclists (courtesy of Blackburn Manufacturing, a Neligh business.) Wednesday morning, we set up a welcome tent at our office and directional signs all over town.

Because of the unexpected rain, there were some details that were not clear for the early cyclists. We soon got it figured it out. The new camping spot for people who were not brave enough to endure the wet park was at the high school, this is also where we moved a lot of the other events. We stayed at the school to direct people on where to put items and give food and entertainment directions. We went around to businesses and museums to take pictures and meet people, and along the way we shuttled people around town.

With the influx of over 500 people in town, the small businesses were a bit overwhelmed. When we walked in to Sly’s, the local bar and grill, there was literally not an empty seat in the place. It was chaotic but fun. We soon noticed that a couple of the people behind the bar obviously did not work there, based on the sheer confusion on their faces but were doing their best to help. One of them looked like a biker, and by asking her questions one by one, we learned she was: 1.) a biker on the tour 2.) had never bartended 3.) was just doing her best to help out. Finally curiosity won over the hesitation to ask her more. We learned that she was a trained nurse from Norfolk, Neb. who researches new drugs for one of the auto-immune disorders that Rhiannon has, and is a mom that currently lives in Gretna. It proved  that leaders can be anyone and that everyone has a story worth telling as long as you are brave enough to ask what it is. We found out time and time again this day that people will gladly tell you about themselves; all you have to do is ask the right questions.

“Everyone has a story. It just takes one little courage to ask, but the reward is always worth it.”

MICHAYLA GOEDEKEN
SERVICESHIP INTERN, NELIGH, NEB.

 

 

Thursday morning we served breakfast and said goodbye to our favorite riders. Then we took leftovers to all the businesses around town that supported us.

One of the smaller projects we have been working on are marketing materials. Our short videos are posted on Neligh Economic Development and Neligh Nebraska Facebook pages every Wednesday and Friday starting this week. We created new social media content for the Chamber Raffle

Also, Neligh is the Flag Capital of Nebraska, so on Jun. 14, we spent the a couple hours putting out miniature American flags. We have had multiple meetings as well. We had a City Counsel Meeting on Jun. 12, where we discussed golf cart laws and town projects including down town realizations. The next day we had the Clearwater Village meeting. Other meetings included Economic Development Meeting, Northeast (ED) Network Meeting, Senator Breeze Forum, a grand-reopening celebration and a monthly business open house put on by the Chamber.

“I am starting to truly feel like a rural Nebraskan. Being from a city there are a lot of things that have come as a culture shock. It’s the little things that make me feel a lot more connected to the community.”

RHIANNON COBB
SERVICESHIP INTERN, NELIGH, NEB.

 

 

 

Seward, Neb.

Maddie poses at Seward’s very first Cultural Festival on Jun. 8. 

Overall, we would say that it has been quite an exhilarating five weeks. The first two weeks were full of nervousness about what event we were going to help create, as we were given the freedom to create anything we wanted with the condition that it stayed sustainable and manageable for folks after we depart Seward County in August. We knew it had to be something informal and approachable, since that is probably the best way to attract as many newcomers and residents as we can. After many thought trial and errors, we decided that it had to be an event that emphasized the epitome of summer—ice cream. We hope that our event goes as planned and that we get feedback that can help us improve the other two installments of this newcomer event extravaganza.

There has been a lot that we have done in the past five weeks. We met with dozens of leaders in the community and have been able to solidify our ideas for our Seward County newcomer event. We also had Seward’s very first Cultural Festival on Jun. 8. Also on this day is when the Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska (BRAN) came through and stayed in Seward. It was a perfect day to host them, but also host the festival.

Overall, we believe BRAN and the Cultural Festival was a success. The food trucks were amazing, the beer garden and the 80s cover band, AMFM, were also a HUGE success. A lot of people favored the beer garden and concert and wanted us to do it every month! Our responsibility during the festival was to stand by the blocked off roads and let people out that were still parked on the street.

Then during the festival, we had the opportunity to announce the cultural dancers such as, the Ponca Tribe and the Lincoln Irish Tap Dancers. We also had to opportunity to express our views on 104.9 Max Country and talk briefly about RFI, its mission, and the Cultural Festival. This was a great way for people to learn about what were involved in, and learn about RFI. Later in the evening we assisted in verifying IDs and registered cash at the entrance of the beer garden! People danced the night away until almost 11:30 pm. Overall, it was a fantastic event and hopefully Seward can do it again next year!

Raghav is interviewed about his RFI Serviceship for 104.9 Max Country.

Then during the festival, we had the opportunity to announce the cultural dancers such as, the Ponca Tribe and the Lincoln Irish Tap Dancers. We also had to opportunity to express our views on 104.9 Max Country and talk briefly about RFI, its mission, and the Cultural Festival. This was a great way for people to learn about what were involved in, and learn about RFI. Later in the evening we assisted in verifying IDs and registered cash at the entrance of the beer garden! People danced the night away until almost 11:30 pm. Overall, it was a fantastic event and hopefully Seward can do it again next year!

The event that we have been working on so far is a Newcomer Ice Cream Social that will be held on Jul. 15, 2018, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Seward Bandshell. This event is being held on National Ice Cream Day and we will be providing FREE ice cream to any resident of Seward County. During our event at 7:30 p.m., the Seward Municipal Band will be playing. They play every Sunday evening during the summer. We have a lot of volunteers and two big sponsors. Lee’s Refrigeration will be providing the ice cream and two ice cream machines. They will set them up for us and tear them down. Also, Seward Kiwanis Club is being very generous and providing the cups, spoons, sprinkles, chocolate syrup and bottled waters. Some Kiwanis Club members will also volunteer to serve ice cream! We also have about six of our Meet & Greet members who will be there to introduce themselves and welcome newcomers to Seward.

“We hope that our Newcomer Ice Cream Social event goes as planned and that we get feedback that can help us improve the other two installments of this newcomer event extravaganza.”

RAGHAV KIDAMBI
SERVICESHIP INTERN, SEWARD, NEB.

 

Read More

This Week In Serviceship 2018: Week Four!

June 15, 2018
Black Hills Energy Over the last few weeks, Black Hills has welcomed a number of new interns to the company. Although many are located at the corporate headquarters in Rapid City, South Dakota, there are interns throughout the region, specializing …

Black Hills Energy

Black Hills’ Technicians Ashley and Ryan, 10/11 meteorologist Brad Anderson, Serviceship intern Emily Coffey, Black Hills’ Community Affairs Manager Brandy Johnson and 10/11 Reporter Lance Shwartz at 10/11 News’ annual “Can Care-a-Van” food drive.

Over the last few weeks, Black Hills has welcomed a number of new interns to the company. Although many are located at the corporate headquarters in Rapid City, South Dakota, there are interns throughout the region, specializing in everything from Human Resources to engineering. In July, headquarters will be hosting all of us for their annual “Intern Week,” during which we will have the opportunity to network, present our individual projects and learn more about Black Hills.

One of the internal programs at Black Hills is their Ambassador Program. These employees are the face of the company at volunteer events and present to various groups throughout the community about natural gas safety. Recently, I was able to join them for 10/11 News’ “Can Care-a-Van,” an annual food drive which takes place in communities throughout Nebraska.

In the meantime, I’ve been busy here in Nebraska! My main focus over the past few weeks has been building out a communications schedule for Black Hills, including news releases and social media. I’ve been especially interested in sharing safety and energy-saving tips to Black Hills’ customers via Twitter. As a natural gas consumer myself, I’ve already begun to implement some of these habits. For instance, if you run a full cycle in the dishwasher, you’ll save more hot water and energy than if you did the dishes by hand; who could complain about that?

“Service and Operations Technicians are the cornerstone of Black Hills Energy. Shadowing one of Black Hills’ Service Technicians was an absolute blast, and it gave me greater appreciation for them, both as an employee and as a customer!”

EMILY COFFEY
SERVICESHIP INTERN, BLACK HILLS ENERGY

 

While my typical work day takes place in the office, I finally got the chance to do a “ride along” with a Service Tech earlier this week. I spent the morning assisting him with meter turnoffs and appliance inspections. I was even able to help him replace a furnace motor and fan! I had so many questions and so much to learn; I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and wish that I could do it again.

 

 

Broken Bow, Neb.

Leanne and Jessica get interviewed by NTV. Check out their interview >>>

Things in Broken Bow are still going great! We have met more and more people, and it is getting easier for people to recognize us. Our main project with recreation is still coming along. We hosted our first coffee with the community event on Monday, Jun. 4, and two more that following week. Meeting members of the community and different organizations, such as the Rotary Club, has been very eye opening. It is great to hear their opinion and how much they love their town. We have decided to do a recreationally focused survey to get more input that people would rather give anonymously. We met with stakeholders from Adams Land and Cattle, as well as Sargent Pipe, to get their opinions on what recreational additions would help the community.

NET came to the community of Broken Bow for a segment on the new library here but stuck around for something they call “Town Talk.” During this talk, community members came together to talk about the things they are most proud of and some of the “jewels” in town and county that people may not know about. This was a great time for everyone to voice their opinions about the station.

NTV visited the town and did an interview of us for the news. We were able to talk about the RFI Serviceship program, as well as our projects, our upcoming coffees with the community, and future goals when we graduate college.

“I have really learned how to have conversations with different demographics about the same topic. This is a life-long tool that I will use in future careers. It’s really the little things that we are all learning in our communities that are going to pay off the most.”

LEANNE GAMET
SERVICESHIP INTERN, BROKEN BOW, NEB.

 

Leanne and Jessica pose with the community listeners of the NET Town Talk in Broken Bow, Neb. Photo credits: William Anderson, NET

Our project with tourism and Sturgis has taken off as well. We have been in touch with many of the main sponsors of the rally such as Coca-Cola, Budweiser and Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame. Our next step is going to businesses around town to see if they would be willing to participate in a coupon book that we can send to vendors in South Dakota to pass out. We have also been doing surveys with small groups of motorcycle friends and reached out to several Christian Motorcycle Association groups in Grand Island, Kearney, North Platte and Lincoln.

We have also been keeping busy with various community events. We attended Summer Celebration one evening where awards were given out to some local businesses and people on their achievements and work in the community. Last weekend our community hosted “Hear Nebraska” which featured live bands, and the community made it a weekend celebration with various events they put on. Events ranged from a community quilting project at the visitors’ center, to a skateboard demonstration, to a local street dance.

 

 

Columbus, Neb.

“The Serviceship experience has offered me a chance to dig into the industry and learn what it takes to be a community developer, in a city of 22,0000 people. To do it–and do it right–you really have to have a passion for it.”

AMBER ROSS
SERVICESHIP INTERN, COLUMBUS, NEB.

Columbus continues to inspire, entertain, and impress us. Each day brings a new face, a new opinion, and a new idea.

We were able to attend the Diversity and Inclusion Summit hosted by the Chamber. We got to hear about recruitment, inclusion, how technology is making a difference in inclusion and innovative problem solving. KC Belitz, president of the Chamber, said that the goal of this summit was to encourage Columbus to “create one community instead of two.” Then he joked, “We can’t afford two!” Diversity and Inclusion will be a focus during Young Nebraskans Week here in Columbus.

Clayton and Amber celebrate national doughnut day in the Columbus Chamber Office!

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” So, we have made sure to have some fun. The Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce sponsors a monthly Interns’ Night Out for all interns in the area during the summer. This month’s activity included a catered dinner and line dance lessons by a local dance instructor. About 25 interns joined us for this great night out on the town!

Finally, we spent the last week touring schools in Columbus. Not only did we build some important relationships, but we saw that the community has been able to build a market-driven curriculum for the schools. Each school has responded to a separate need demonstrated by the businesses in Columbus, resulting in impressive classrooms and labs, including STEM, STEAM, robotics, agriculture, and even hydroponic programs. As Kristen Hoesing, Admissions Director of Central Community College, said, “CCC will not do something unless it is needed by the industry.” From growing food for their own kitchens to growing trained employees for the local industries, these schools are making Columbus a self-sustainable community.

“Some days are ultra-productive while others are, well, less than stellar. But ultimately, the one question you should ask yourself at the end of the day is whether or not you have set yourself up for success the next day.”

CLAYTON KELLER
SERVICESHIP INTERN, COLUMBUS, NEB.

 

 

Cozad, Neb.

Christy and Shelby meet with University of Nebraska–Lincoln Husker Volleyball head coach John Cook.

Hustle – that’s what the last two weeks have been like for us. Between our first and second rounds of Music Monday and the Nebraska Economic Developers Association (NEDA) Conference in Gothenburg, Neb., we have been constantly on the move.

Music Mondays have had absolutely rave reviews. It is so encouraging to see a community come together for music and food – not just once, but weekly. The concerts have attracted people of all ages; everyone from young children to the residences of the assisted living facility, Meadowlark Pointe. We are very grateful for the many community members and city workers who volunteer to help us set up and tear down the temporary fencing and picnic tables. The attendance of Music Mondays has been outstanding and is continuing to increase. The first week we had 275 guests and this week we had almost 400! Music Mondays have been so successful we’ve had to book additional food trucks to accommodate everyone. The musicians we have hosted so far are Formally Three, Samantha Schutte and Lana Greene.

We are building some strong relationships with our lead mentor and other community members which makes the hard work we are doing purposeful and fulfilling.

The Biz Kids launch their businesses at Music Monday.

Our lead mentor, Jen McKeone, was the host of the annual NEDA conference held this year in Gothenburg. Over 150 economic developers from across the state and investors from across the country attended. During this jam-packed week, we had the opportunity to go on the Central Public Power District water tour. We saw several facilities responsible for providing irrigation water for farmers, as well as the Keystone Hydroelectric Plant at Lake McConaughy. We toured the Monsanto Water Utilization Learning Center in Gothenburg where they research how to best crop crops under different stressors. NEDA conference was a great networking opportunity and a time to exchange unique ideas with other developers.

Friday we will be hosting our three finalists for ‘Pitch It Cozad: Win This Space’ for their final presentations. We have a selection committee of 11 sponsors and partners that will be judging the proposals. Each finalist has submitted a completed business plan and will explain how they would launch a successful enterprise in downtown Cozad. The overall goal of ‘Pitch It’ is to attract unique and sustainable businesses to Cozad as well as support and encourage local entrepreneurship. This is done by providing space, capital, and start-up professional assistance. The total prize package is valued at over $20,000.

 

 

 

Omaha Land Bank

The Omaha Land Bank Staff eating at a locally owned café, Harold’s Koffee House, in the Historic Florence part of Omaha, Neb.

Sydney and Kyle are ending week four in Omaha, NE with lots of new knowledge and meetings under their belt. Sydney and Kyle’s colleagues took them for a tour around Omaha last Friday afternoon and Omaha was even bigger than they had imagined. Between the busy traffic and large amount of ground to see it took them four hours to see only one part of the big city, North Omaha. Sydney and Kyle saw boulevards with gorgeous houses lining both sides of the street, revitalized neighborhoods with booming businesses, and new parks being built in multiple places. This redevelopment and progression in these North Omaha neighborhoods are in large part due to non-profit organizations like the Omaha Land Bank.

Sydney had the opportunity to attend the United Way of the Midlands, Heartland 2050 Summer Summit on the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s campus where she had the privilege to meet and hear many of the non-profits involved in the revitalization of Omaha neighborhoods speak. Sydney learned that there are multiple organizations that are involved in making Omaha neighborhoods a desirable and family-oriented place to be.

“Everyday is a new adventure at the Omaha Land Bank. There is not a day where I am doing the same thing. Between meetings, conferences and consulting appointments, I am learning more than I had dreamt of.”

SYDNEY ARMBRUSTER
SERVICESHIP INTERN, OMAHA LAND BANK

 

Kyle and Sydney take a tour around the Metro Community College campus’ new Construction Education Center.

The two interns also had an incredibly busy morning on Wednesday this week with the monthly mandated meeting of the Omaha Municipal Land Bank Board of Directors. The Board met to discuss the acquisition of new properties and the strategy that would go with the new development as well as approved the sale of the homes we earlier watched go on auction. It was enjoyable to see the end process come together. Being at the board meeting we were able to meet both voting and nonvoting members who all hold important roles within the community from nonprofit organizations, bankers, developers, and the president of the city council.

Following the OMLB board meeting we were able to tour the Metro Community College campus’ new Construction Education Center. This brand-new building is a way that students working towards their certifications in trades like plumbing, and HVAC have the opportunity to work on a capstone project in which a full-scale home is built and then sold to the community. In partnership with the landbank, the first house out of the new building will go on a Land Bank vacant lot and be a 1600 sq. ft home with a two-car garage.

This will help in the redevelopment of North Omaha and the area around Metro Community College’s Fort Campus. The partnership will enable new homes to be put out at a competitive rate and eventually get up to three homes per year out into the community. What we saw this week was a much closer look at the governing structures of the land bank and various ways in which it is a key player in revitalizing areas of North Omaha and the city at large.

Individually, Kyle was able to spend a great deal more time diving into the foreclosure process and develop additional responsibilities in the overall process. By the end of the summer the first batch of 500 new properties will be coming into the Land Bank and be up for sale to the community to help spur redevelopment. Looking even further into the future, Kyle will be using this opportunity to stay involved in the Land Bank as he will be doing a project next summer for his MPA capstone project to help highlight the actual impact the land bank has had in the city in a short period of time.

“My favorite part of working at the Land Bank is knowing that every day my work is actually making a difference in creating a better community to live in. By working towards acquiring these properties for transformation shows just how much goes on behind the scenes to make the city a better place to live.”

KYLE MCGLADE
SERVICESHIP INTERN, OMAHA LAND BANK

 

 

Norfolk, Neb.

Cheyenne Gerlach and Samantha Guenther are in Norfolk for their RFI serviceship internship. For the first five weeks, we are working to tell the story of Daycos. Daycos is unique in that they are a for-profit AND for-good business. It is our job to capture what Daycos does, how they do it, and why they do it in hopes of informing and inspiring others to possibly do the same. The overarching goal of our project with Daycos is to come up with a way to re-brand Daycos’ for-good movement, Daycos4Good, as simply intertwined with Daycos as a whole. We will be creating video, web content, and written publications to help portray this message.

For the second five weeks, we are working to promote the retail and service sector of the Norfolk community for the visitors bureau. We will be acting as “secret shoppers” to get an inside scoop on how business owners and employees are welcoming and promoting Norfolk through their business. We will also be doing a “windshield assessment” of businesses in Norfolk to gain a better understanding of how it can be improved. Then, we will be working to help make those improvements to strengthen the retail and service sector.

“By being surrounded by rural leaders with a vision and drive to make an impact, I am challenged to think innovatively, act on opportunities and build my leadership skills every day.”

SAMANTHA GUENTHER
SERVICESHIP INTERN, NORFOLK, NEB.

 

During the past two weeks, we have finished the interviews with Daycos stakeholders and have a solid grasp on the impact that Daycos is making on customers, employees, community, and in the company. Our next steps will be creating three videos that capture who Daycos is, how they do it, and why. Additionally, we have set goals to systemize the hiring process to be in line with the Daycos company and culture and have plans to create a visual map of goals and accomplishments. To wrap up our time with Daycos, we will be facilitating a company meeting to present our work and develop a solid understanding within the company of what Daycos is.

We have also become involved in the Norfolk community. Norfolk hosted a “Welcome Week” where we participated in many events like a picnic at Tahazouka and fun at Skyview Lake event. Community members have reached out to us many times to invite us to young leaders meetings and have made a welcoming and supportive impact on us.

Overall, we have dived into our work at Daycos with new opportunities and skills to take advantage of everyday. We are building skills like communication, innovative thinking, and videography through our daily work. We are excited to share our work with the entirety of Daycos and look forward to seeing the difference we can make with the visitor’s bureau.

 

 

Red Cloud, Neb.

Trevor discusses grant writing and non-profit work with Red Cloud, Neb., bookstore owner Peter Osborne.

The third week in Red Cloud was just as exciting as the first two. We attended and helped with the 63rd annual Willa Cather Conference. The theme for the conference was the 100th Anniversary of My Ántonia, arguably Willa Cather’s most successful book. It was the most attended conference in history, as around 200 English teachers, college professors, and well-read citizens came to town. We had an exciting day Saturday as Trevor drove all the way to Lincoln at 6 in the morning to retrieve the banquet’s entertainment, John Reed-Torres, a ragtime piano player out of Los Angeles. Then, Trenton drove him back to Lincoln late that night.

In the beginning of the next week we began preparing for the Bike Ride Across Nebraska (BRAN). A whopping 350 bike-riders, 50 support staff, and 50 family members were going to be tent-camping in the city park on June 6th after a 50-mile ride from Alma. The day before they arrived, we took a trip to Alma to hand out fliers about Red Cloud’s activities awaiting the riders. We helped coordinate with local businesses and groups who would be setting up food stands or hosting many of the night’s guests. The first riders crossed the city limits just before 9:00 Wednesday morning and were all in by 3:00 in the afternoon, increasing Red Cloud’s population by 50%!

We got to drive a tour bus around the city and surrounding areas showing off some of Red Cloud’s historic sights. Two of the other Serviceship pairs are hosting the riders in McCook and Seward. We will see soon who wins best host community!

“It is incredible how much activity there is in a town of 1,000. The amount of time and effort given by the community is just as astounding and the biggest reason the city has been making such positive strides”

TRENTON BUHR
SERVICESHIP INTERN, RED CLOUD, NEB.

Starting this week, we got rolling on economic development. Now that we’ve learned just about everything there is to know about Red Cloud and experienced some of the biggest events in the community, we began plotting a path forward. We are tackling three problems the city is currently facing: housing, business development, and quality of life. There are a significant number of vacant and run-down homes in the community along with drastically low home values. Dealing with this problem will take coordination from many of the city’s organizations including the City Council, Board of Public Trust, and Historic Preservation Commission. As for businesses, we are looking to fill main street with small businesses and remain competitive for any other opportunities that might come. The city’s incentive package will need to be greatly bolstered to develop this. Finally, we’re making recommendations for increasing the number of parks and trails, improving infrastructure, and helping the school system prosper.

Trenton and Trevor snap a selfie on the “selfie spot” in the Willa Cather Center.

This week we met with Brian Hoff the Red Cloud Community Schools superintendent and discuss coming changes with the school system and issues they have had to face in the past including low enrollment, near consolidation, and renovating a 100-year-old high school.

The prevalence of history in Red Cloud and the development of a strong tourism industry add a unique element to the housing issues here. Razing every abandoned house isn’t an option because so many have historical relevance. The brick streets which make up a few blocks downtown are cherished by many local residents but despised by many others. And, maintaining century old storefronts is not an easy task, especially for small businesses without a significant budget. We are trying to balance the historical presence with advances in modern housing and infrastructure.

Our final event of the week was going around to local businesses asking for donations and sponsorships for the Good Living Tour. In early July, four bands from around the state will be performing for the city—the third year in a row the event has come to Red Cloud!

Read More

This Week In Serviceship 2018: Week Three!

June 7, 2018
Alliance, Neb. “I think the communities are very excited about what Haley and I are doing and are willing to help us in any way they can. For me personally, I’m excited to further my leadership skills and abilities as …

Alliance, Neb.

“I think the communities are very excited about what Haley and I are doing and are willing to help us in any way they can. For me personally, I’m excited to further my leadership skills and abilities as I start thinking about my future.”

MIRISSA SCHOLTING
SERVICESHIP INTERN, ALLIANCE, NEB.

It’s hard to believe that three weeks have gone by already! We have been very busy in Alliance working with the Box Butte Development Corporation to develop our video for the Marketing Hometown America Project for Box Butte County.

For the last three weeks, we have been meeting new people from Hemingford and Alliance, moved out of our host family’s house and into our duplex, worked on developing hashtags and our video project and volunteered at Carhenge.

Haley and Mirissa pose outside of Mobius Communications, Hemingford Cooperative Telephone Company.

Haley helps fix up car displays while volunteering at Carhenge in Alliance, Neb.

When we asked Deb Moore, an employe at Alliance Chamber and Carhenge, about our impact on the community, she said, “The girls are enthusiastic, ready to jump into anything and try anything new.”

We have taken footage at various public places like the pool, coffee shops, car show, movie theatre and library in Alliance. We have also spent some time in Hemingford working out of Mobius Communications-Hemingford Cooperative Telephone Company and have been in touch with businesses there as well. We plan to film more footage there in the upcoming weeks. We are also starting to contact businesses in Berea as well.

While volunteering at Carhenge, we helped fix some vandalism done to one of the cars, power washed tires, and then started spray painting the tires bright colors. We are planning to display them at Carhenge when they are completely painted as we are making them into flower pots in order to help make Carhenge more aesthetically pleasing to visitors.

“This opportunity has provided me with more than an internship. It has provided me with learning experiences, connections and skills that will benefit me in my future endeavors, as well as the ability to impact a rural community.”

HALEY EHRKE
SERVICESHIP INTERN, ALLIANCE, NEB.

 

 

 

McCook, Neb.

Over the last two weeks in McCook, we have continued to create an inventory of the items in the High Plains Museum. With nearly 4,000 photographs taken to date, we are nearing the end of our record keeping process! We are also starting to inventory the books in the Carnegie Library. Additionally, we have been interviewing members of the museum board to get their perspective on the future of the High Plains Museum. The interviews have assisted in the stimulation of new ideas and the incorporation of the most significant parts of McCook’s history. Brainstorming sessions have been a vital part of our everyday by keeping our minds moving and fresh ideas rolling in.

“When I think about my time in the Rural Futures Institute Serviceship Program, one word comes to mind: entrepreneurship. In our respective communities where we are responsible for holding ourselves accountable, we can light a new fire by putting out of the box ideas into action.”

EMILY FRENZEN
SERVICESHIP INTERN, MCCOOK, NEB.

Emily and Sage pose in downtown McCook, Neb.

There have been many people who have given us valuable input and are essential to the museum. One of those people is John Hubert, a long-time community member and entrepreneur, who knows the history of McCook better than we know the back of our own hands! He is a talented storyteller and wealth of knowledge we hope to capture on video sometime this summer.

One of our secondary projects is to create a library of community photography for future marketing purposes. This means we get to travel across the county capturing small town Nebraska main streets, unique buildings and favorite restaurants in the area like the Rocket Inn where people come from afar for their famous pizza. We discovered the gem that is the Rocket Inn this week while exploring Indianola and then made our way to Bartley for more photographs.

We also had the opportunity to attend the McCook Community Foundation and Red Willow County Visitors Committee meetings where we were introduced to many more welcoming and influential members of the community. Both of these meetings gave us a better idea of the unique art culture, giving spirit and community pride that makes up McCook.

“The more I have immersed myself in the local culture of the McCook community, the more I have realized how important the people and small businesses are to this rural community, and in turn, how essential rural communities are to the livelihood of our state. Adapting to change and technology and consistently bringing in fresh ideas is vital to the survival of rural communities.”

SAGE WILLIAMS
SERVICESHIP INTERN, MCCOOK, NEB.

 

 

McCook THETA Camps

“Collin, Tyan, and I learn about health and wellness all school year, and it is very exciting for myself personally to be able to apply it in the real world to students that are eager to learn!”

BRAD SCHOCH
SERVICESHIP INTERN, MCCOOK THETA CAMPS

 

Brad helps some of the kids construct their aquaponic systems.

We implemented Module 1 of THETA camp the past week, and it has been very successful for our team. In Module 1, after getting to know everyone, we started fast by germinating plants with our students. The students were very interactive with this step in the growing of our produce.

After getting some plants started, we moved on to the next step which was constructing our hydroponic and aquaponic systems. The students seemed very interested in how these growing systems worked as well as very excited to be able to get their hands dirty and do a little construction project.

Students were able to use drills and cocking glue guns in order to build the structures we needed. It was very rewarding to teach a new skill to kids that had no experience with, specifically using a drill. It was also very interesting to watch kids work together to lift heavy bags of gravel and place it within our systems!

“I’m very thankful for the opportunity to be able to make a positive impact on the kids as well as the community of McCook.”

COLLIN FLEECS
SERVICESHIP INTERN, MCCOOK THETA CAMPS

 

Tyan discusses the benefits of physical activity, good nutrition and energy balance.

This week, the kids returned just as eager as we were to continue to learn. Module 2 of THETA camp dove straight into the topics of physical activity, nutrition and energy balance. The students were very involved and really enjoyed the physical activity aspects of our teachings. This task seemed a little intimidating at first, especially the aspects of teaching what a calorie is, what the macronutrients are and the concept of energy balance.

On Wednesday we took the students on a trip to the local grocery store called Schmick’s. We tasked the students with collecting pictures of food labels, as well as examples of carbohydrate and protein rich foods. This was very intriguing as we saw students enter a store and search for the appropriate information on food labels that can be utilized directly in their own lives. They were able to obtain this information from what we had taught them earlier in the week and were also full of questions. It’s very rewarding to see students pick up on what we’re teaching and then watch them put it into action days later.

On Thursday we continued our discussions on health and wellness by focusing primarily on health care professions. The discussion was very strong between the students and us as we described the different responsibilities of many health professionals. Modules 1 and 2 of THETA have been very successful, and our experience so far has us excited and prepared for success as we continue to progress into the next chapter of our camp.

“I’ve really enjoyed seeing how much of an interest the kids have taken in our program, both during camp and as well as at home.”

TYAN BOYER
SERVICESHIP INTERN, MCCOOK THETA CAMPS

 

 

 

 

Neligh, Neb.

For the past two weeks, we have been working on finishing up our mapping reports, as well as finding host homes for Tour-de-Nebraska. We recently finished the Neligh report, and we’re about a third of the way done with the report for Northeast Nebraska. Additionally, we created a small marketing campaign containing a flyer and social media posts for Facebook to entice people to volunteer their homes for Tour-de-Nebraska.

There is a serious housing shortage in Neligh because there are many short-term workers flooding the housing system because of all of the wind towers going up around town. Since most of the people that would open their houses for Tour-de-Nebraska have already rented them out, we came up with the idea to incentivize homeowners. The first five people to open up their house will receive gift certificates which were donated by local businesses. Additionally, we printed out flyers and delivered them door to door to get the word out. We also started setting up recording times with community members for marketing videos for Neligh.

“The passion and patriotism in Neligh is unbelievable. I have never met a group of people who are more passionate or caring about their community. They truly care about their town.”

RHIANNON COBB
SERVICESHIP INTERN, NELIGH, NEB.

 

Michayla and Rhiannon have fun delivering flyers door to door for their Tour-de-Nebraska.

Over the last two weeks, we sat in on meetings. Last Friday, we had the monthly “Coffee Talk” at the Senior Center. There we spoke with the older generation of Neligh residents over coffee and cinnamon rolls about what they are seeing in the community as issues and what our office can do to help. On Friday, our Downtown Revitalization project applications were due, so we met with many business owners throughout the week about how to improve their businesses either aesthetically or structurally through projects funded in part by the grant. Friday was full of making sure applications were complete and filled out correctly. This Tuesday we went to the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce Meeting. Clearwater is ten miles west of Neligh and our office works for their town as well. Their meeting was mainly about the rodeo coming up in a couple of weeks and the new grocery store coming to town.

After we got back to Neligh, we had a meeting with the Northeast Nebraska Economic Develop District to go over our Downtown Revitalization projects. We met to make sure all the contractors were registered, all the numbers matched up and all the applications were complete. Then that evening, we attended the meeting for the Fall Festival, and Rhiannon updated their brochure. On Wednesday we volunteered to help paint the new grocery store in Clearwater so for a couple hours our boss let us off to benefit the community.

When we started asking people what they loved about the area we heard things like the restaurants, community and the people you get to support. We also heard something pretty moving as people started talking about community assets. They started by talking about the co-op, implement dealers, nursing home, school, ESU 8, park, lake garden and floral shops, banks and other businesses. Then as things were starting to quiet down, one lady turned to face us in her seat and said, “I think the people are our greatest asset.” We think that is very true about the people here in Neligh.

“Like in most rural places I’ve visited, the people in Neligh are resilient. They persevere and gather around people in hardships. They celebrate each other’s successes. They care about the wellbeing of their town, and they aren’t afraid to tell us why they love it.”

MICHAYLA GOEDEKEN
SERVICESHIP INTERN, NELIGH, NEB.

 

 

Seward, Neb.

Our time at the Seward County Chamber has been reasonably productive so far. We met with many community stakeholders over the past week and a half, which has been extremely insightful to make meaningful progress towards achieving our primary project goals of creating a sustainable engagement initiative for Seward County. Meeting these stakeholders and community members one-on-one gave us the knowledge of the various opinions that community members have. This then lead to the filtering of opinions which enabled us to come up with tangible output plans.

“So far I have loved meeting with so many wonderful people in the community. These people are so dedicated to their community and their hard work shows! They have really helped us to feel welcomed in Seward and continue to offer their assistance with our project!”

MADDIE MILLER
SERVICESHIP INTERN, SEWARD, NEB.

One big goal we have been able to achieve is finding our main target market and what we really want to accomplish this summer. Revolving around newcomer engagement, we have been able to solidify that our target market is reaching out to young professionals without children or retirees. From the data that we have collected from interviews, we have concluded that many of these people are having a harder time finding people their age and finding activities to be involved in, compared to couples with children. We have decided to create an event that will be two to three times a year. This event will be specifically marketed toward newcomers; however, it will be open for all residents of Seward County.

Raghav and Maddie have been meeting with stakeholders in a sustainable engagement initiative for Seward County.

Raghav takes in his rural serviceship experience from a farm in Seward, Neb.

 

 

 

 

 

Along with this event, we have been in the process of recruiting individuals who are very involved in the community. We want people who love to introduce themselves and help others get involved. These people will be part of our “Welcome Wagon.” This will not be an official group or organization, but simply a group of people that would like to show up to our events and offer a warm welcome. We are hoping that these individuals will create meaningful connections with newcomers and help them get accustomed with life in Seward County. We are going to try this event first in Seward to see if it takes off, and then hopefully it will spread to other communities in Seward County once our serviceship is complete.

We hope to be able to collaborate with community members, stakeholders and local businesses to be able to pull of the event that we are in the process of creating. We are very excited to, and yet a tad bit nervous about putting up this event. The nervousness stems from the possibility of a minimal turnout for the event, but that does not equate to having to give up on our marketing efforts. We believe that persistent and strategic marketing and coordination will help us achieve our goals.

“The personal and professional growth that stems from simply interacting with people from different walks of life is invaluable.”

RAGHAV KIDAMBI
SERVICESHIP INTERN, SEWARD, NEB.

 

Read More

This Week In Serviceship 2018: Week Two!

June 1, 2018
Black Hills Energy Unlike the other RFI Serviceships taking place throughout the state this summer, my experience with Black Hills Energy has been in progress since the beginning of April. My experience is also unique in that, because Black Hills …

Black Hills Energy

Unlike the other RFI Serviceships taking place throughout the state this summer, my experience with Black Hills Energy has been in progress since the beginning of April. My experience is also unique in that, because Black Hills is a regional natural gas provider, my work deals with the company’s priorities at a statewide and regional level.

I’m fortunate to have started my Serviceship while the Nebraska legislature was still in session because it gave me the opportunity to accompany my lead mentor to the capitol on one of the legislature’s final and busiest days. It was really fascinating to see the lobbying process firsthand, and helped me to understand the importance of educating and working with elected officials on issues that have implications for the utility. Each year there are a number of legislative bills that have the potential to affect the ability of Black Hills’ customers and employees to safely access affordable natural gas.

It means a lot to me to be able to work with a company that encourages its employees to give back to their community and even provides numerous opportunities to do so.

EMILY COFFEY
SERVICESHIP INTERN, BLACK HILLS ENERGY

 

I’ve quickly learned that safety is a non-negotiable for Black Hills. As part of my training, I participated in multiple safety training modules, and I joined employees from throughout the state at the annual Black Hills Safety & Wellness Summit, where we engaged with speakers on a variety of topics, including empowering teams, the bystander effect and health.

Emily joins Black Hills Energy Endowment Scholarship recipients for a tour of Lincoln’s natural gas distribution and odorizing station.

It didn’t take me long to realize how much I took natural gas for granted, and how little I understood about it or the components necessary to ensure the safety of the utility and those who maintain it. Natural gas is a safe, reliable energy source, and produces less carbon dioxide than any other fossil fuel. That’s why many people choose natural gas to heat their homes, water, and appliances. Originally, natural gas is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. The pungent rotten egg smell commonly associated with natural gas is actually caused by mercaptan, an organic sulfur compound, which is added to the gas to make even the smallest leaks easy to detect. Though rare, gas leaks can be very dangerous, and it’s important to know how to prevent and respond to a suspected gas leak. That’s why I’m creating a natural gas safety outreach plan, specifically aimed at college students, who are often moving into their own independent housing for the first time.

Another piece of my Serviceship is assisting with the Black Hills’ community giving strategy in Nebraska. Recently, I was able to volunteer alongside other Black Hills employees at a local elementary school, where we provided and served lunches and helped the teachers organize games for their students.

 

Broken Bow, Neb.

We have both been very busy here in the community of Broken Bow! Both with working on major projects and a few smaller ones here and there. Our first week consisted of meeting a multitude of people and setting up coffee talks with the community. Our plan there is to reach out residents for their opinion on recreational opportunities here in Broken Bow.  We have started working on tourism and getting in contact with potential partners in Sturgis and surrounding areas in South Dakota. Another smaller project has been contacting television stations to get a ‘Through My Eyes’ promotional commercial about Broken Bow out across the state. We have learned a lot about cold calling Nebraska TV stations and getting campaigns put together to run this ad. Two smaller projects we are taking on by ourselves include making Custer County Leadership Certified and a Livestock Friendly County.

The drive that this community has to take on projects and move forward makes me so excited to see what we can accomplish in the next 9 weeks. Broken Bow is one of a kind and the people are really willing to make an effort to make you feel welcome and get you involved.

LEANNE GAMET
SERVICESHIP INTERN, BROKEN BOW, NEB.

Both of us are really looking forward to involving ourselves in the local culture by participating in more festivities and celebrations throughout the summer!

Leanne and Jessica discuss the community coffee talks they’re hosting live on the air for 92.3 KBEAR.

Our Serviceship is pretty unique in the fact that we are working with three people directly with completely different projects. This has really given us the opportunity to meet even more people, as well as work with different leadership styles and just learn more about Broken Bow as a whole. We have attended many board meetings including: Custer County Economic Development Corporation, City Council, Custer County Chamber and CAPABLE Youth Development. Being introduced to these groups have given us a great network that we feel comfortable reaching out to when we need things for the handful of projects we are working on.

We have already gotten plenty of ideas as far as places and organizations that we can volunteer for and with. Some that we are looking to include Custer County 4-H, the Red Barn Visitors Center and State of Art and Music Festival. A lot of the community has banded together and offered their help and support with the different projects that we are working on.

One of the coolest things I saw when I first arrived in Broken Bow was the town square surrounded by flourishing businesses. It’s been cool to meet individuals in the community over the past couple of weeks and really get immersed into the culture. This town is truly diverse and moving forward!

JESSICA WEEDER
SERVICESHIP INTERN, BROKEN BOW, NEB.
We have already enjoyed many things in the community such as going to the movies and eating at several local restaurants. Some of the different events we find unique and different in Broken Bow are Third Thursdays and Thursdays on the Square. Thursdays on the Square resembles a farmers market with food vendors and craft vendors. Third Thursdays are bigger celebrations with live music, bounce houses, food and craft vendors, and delicious food trucks—truly an event for the whole family.

 

 

Columbus, Neb.

Columbus: small town; big things. We started the week with back to back meetings and networking. We met many of the communities leaders and were able to learn about our projects for the summer. It was a long day and we were running on fumes, but our hosts, the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce and the Columbus Area Future Fund, were able to come together and provide us with a “Get to Know the Newbies” Dinner. It was a welcome meal as we had spent the day adding to the ever growing list of projects. Throughout the dinner we were able to speak with the mayor, the chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors, and the president of the Columbus Area Future Fund. We were also dining with a journalist from the Wall Street Journal, as she was in town gathering information for a piece on the growing need for rural housing.

Columbus has proven to be incredibly resourceful in the way they tackle problems. So many key community players have stepped into the boxing ring to fight for a better Columbus.

CLAYTON KELLER
SERVICESHIP INTERN, COLUMBUS, NEB.

 

Clayton and Amber were featured in The Columbus Telegram. Read their article >>>

We have spent the week gathering information on our projects for the summer. We will be working on various events for the Chamber, including Interns’ Night Out, an evening event of all of the interns in the community, Young Nebraskans’ Week Event, a week of personal and professional development for the young people (19-30) of Nebraska that will take place in September, and a marketing event for the Something GOOD brand. We will also be working to create a community calendar so that community members are able to know what is going on in the community. The project with the Columbus Area Future Fund will be a little more challenging, marketing their first major fundraising campaign. It will be a busy summer but we will learn a lot.

As we have traveled through the community we are really impressed with the variety of opportunities. There is everything from the mom and pop shops to the big name brand stops. You really don’t have to go to Lincoln or Omaha for anything, it is all right here.

We asked Kara Asmus, one of our host team members, what her big takeaways from our first week were. She said “I am just really impressed with the two of you. You are both so on top of things. I give you something and boom it’s done.”

We also asked our host lead, K.C. Blitz, the same question and he answered, “Now that we have met and worked with you guys, we are really excited about what we are going to get done this summer.”

And let’s not forget about our own thoughts and impressions. Columbus is new territory for us, and with that comes first impressions. We have also been impressed with the people that we have met. We have met a lot of different people but they have all sung the same tune—there is something good going on here. We have both really enjoyed meeting the key community players that work every day to improve Columbus, and we’ve been impressed by the quantity and quality of these key players in the community as well.

 

 

Cozad, Neb.

Shelby assists with the Biz Kids Camp in Cozad, Neb.

In Cozad, we hit the ground running during our first couple of weeks. We’ve attending multiple meetings including, but not limited to, Cozad City Council, Rotary, and the Cozad Development Corporation Citizens Board. We’ve already gotten one project almost wrapped up and are working hard on several small tasks that have been overlooked for too long. The people in Cozad are marvelous—we can’t wait to build more connections in town!

The past two weeks, Shelby assisted with Cozad’s first Biz Kids Camp. There were ten middle school students that had four days of classroom instruction from Janita Pavelka, Entrepreneurship Educator. Shelby shared some of her entrepreneurial experiences with the students as well as helped prepare them to start their businesses. The biz kid students learned from local entrepreneurs and businesspeople, the UNL-Extension EntrepreneurShip Investigation curriculum, which led to everyone starting a new business.  Shelby will help these students launch their businesses at Music Monday in Cozad on June 4th.

Living in rural areas, we often get so caught up in the day-to-day we forget how incredible our small towns are – sometimes it takes an outsider to pull us back and admire what makes us so great.

CHRISTY COOPER
SERVICESHIP INTERN, COZAD, NEB.

 

All communities have difficulties viewing their surrounding as others—customers, visitors, potential residents, and potential businesses—see them. Our views are skewed by over-familiarization, a lack of differing perspectives, expectations, and a reluctance to be completely honest with our neighbors when dealing with difficult issues, such as the appearance of buildings, customer service, and the maintenance of public facilities.

Christy helps the Cozad Development Corporation build a stage for their new Music Monday events.

“First Impressions” is a program developed by K-State Research and Extension through the Community Vitality program. The focus of the program is to help communities learn about existing strengths and weaknesses through the eyes of visitor. The results from a “First Impressions” visit can serve as the basis for community action and as a way to document changes in a community over time. Cozad has partnered up with Ogallala in a First Impressions Program. A team from each community visited the other town looking at buildings, infrastructure, businesses, local government, friendliness, customer service, houses, etc. through the eyes of a visitor. Christy is now compiling the comments and evaluations into a report for both towns. The information will be presented to the communities in the coming weeks.

The Cozad Development Corporation, in cooperation with Wilson Library, is hosting Music Mondays every week in June in a downtown block of Cozad. Different live bands will be performing each week, and food trucks and drinks will be available. Every concert is free admission to the public. In preparation for this event, we built a backdrop for the flatbed trailer being used for the stage. We also worked with Paulsen, Inc. to create fencing for the area. We are excited to see how the first concert turns out next week!

 

 

Omaha Land Bank

The first two weeks in Omaha, Neb., at the Omaha Municipal Land Bank have been nothing short of amazing. Between being welcomed in the office to going to the house sites and exploring the city we have been able to really feel like a part of the OMLB team.

The work team at the Omaha Land Bank has a chemistry that makes you feel like you aren’t really even at work. It’s fun and rewarding. I can’t wait to see what the next 8 weeks has in store for us.

KYLE MCGLADE
SERVICESHIP INTERN, OMAHA LAND BANK

 

Sydney and Kyle stand outside their office for the Omaha Municipal Land Bank.

As a group, Sydney and Kyle went on a trip to a home the Land Bank has acquired. With Kurt, Dave, and Laura we were shown the types of property that OMLB takes on and looks for individuals to redevelop. At this property, securing the house and cleaning up the lawn were big priorities. The home had sat vacant for 12 years and will in the next few months be purchased for redevelopment (which needs to happen within nine months) thanks in large part to OMLB having the ability to waive leans and other blockades to developers having interest.

Additionally, Sydney and Kyle went to a transformed property for a final walk through. The home was one of the first to be bought by the bank and subsequently redeveloped. Having seen before and after photos, the property was unrecognizable. The developers redid the floors, landscaping, and cleared out 28 years of junk and waste that had accumulated over time. The property had been in a state of disrepair that was uninhabitable and now has been leased to a new family. It has begun to spur redevelopment in the neighborhood and the adjacent home has begun renovations with smaller projects occurring along the block.

Sydney has been working on the Social Media posts for the 2018 year for OMLB. She has put together many posts on segments like #DidYouKnow about the Omaha Land Bank. She has also got to do a #GetToKnowTheStaff and learn interesting/fun facts about each of the team members. Kyle and I are going to one of our coworkers rock band shows (he’s the drummer) on June 28 because of the #GetToKnowTheStaff project (we’re VERY excited for this). Along with the posts she has had the privilege to find pictures to go along with the posts. Sydney is also currently working on writing a blog post about the RFI interns at the Omaha Land Bank. Sydney’s focus this summer with mostly be in the communications department. She is working along side Laura Heilman.

Coming from a science background, I never knew how much fun the business/marketing world really was (or how much work actually went into it).

SYDNEY ARMBRUSTER
SERVICESHIP INTERN, OMAHA LAND BANK

 

Kyle has been working in the acquisition team with Dave Schreiner, Stephen, and Juan Mancinas-Rangel, the administrative assistant. He has been familiarizing himself with the platforms used by the OMLB (eProperty etc) and has assisted in the legal process of the Land Bank taking on 510 new properties. His duties have ranged from helping make legal documents for publication and the documents we send to individuals whose property we are in the process of acquiring. There has been a steep learning curve in the first week for us to get into the stride of the office culture and flow.

 

 

Norfolk, Neb.

Cheyenne and Samantha are excited to be in Norfolk, Neb., for the summer!

Cheyenne Gerlach and Samantha Guenther are in Norfolk for their RFI serviceship. For the first five weeks, we are working to tell the story of Daycos. Daycos is unique in that they are a for-profit AND for-good business. It is our job to capture what Daycos does, how they do it, and why they do it in hopes of informing and inspiring others to possibly do the same. The overarching goal of our project with Daycos is to come up with a way to re-brand Daycos’ for-good movement, Daycos4Good, as simply intertwined with Daycos as a whole. We will be creating video, web content, and written publications to help portray this message.

For the second five weeks, we are working to promote the retail and service sector of the Norfolk community for the visitors bureau. We will be acting as “secret shoppers” to get an inside scoop on how business owners and employees are welcoming and promoting Norfolk through their business. We will also be doing a “windshield assessment” of businesses in Norfolk to gain a better understanding of how it can be improved. Then, we will be working to help make those improvements to strengthen the retail and service sector.

For our day to day tasks during the past two weeks, something that we have started doing every Tuesday is creating a set of objectives and goals for the week. This means that we created the first set of goals our second day on the ground in Norfolk. These goals are hung in our office and in our homes so that both of us go to bed and wake up thinking about what we all need to get done by Tuesday. This has been a great experience and has really impressed the people that we are working with. We have wasted no time “acclimating” to Norfolk or planning our work. We’ve jumped in feet first, and it has really helped us in the long run.

After my first two weeks in Norfolk it’s easy to see that the success of the community is the success of the people in community. Good things don’t happen in rural places without good people doing good things.

CHEYENNE GERLACH
SERVICESHIP INTERN, NORFOLK, NEB.

 

We’ve spent this week video interviewing close to 30 Daycos stakeholders. This includes about 15 employees, 7 community members, 5 company leaders, and 3 customers. We’re interviewing these individuals on the impact that Daycos has on the Norfolk community. These stories and inspirations leave many interviewees in tears when reflecting on everything that Daycos has done for themselves and for their community. We both wonder how we ended up in a private company that has such a tremendous, world shaking impact on such a large rural community.

Overall during our first two weeks in Norfolk, we have made connections with various community leaders. We have met with many key stakeholders in all industries: public schools, non-profits, government entities, and private partners. Everyone has been very welcoming and excited to have us in town. We are very excited to be working with and in the Norfolk community.

In my future, I want to work in rural community development and RFI has given me an amazing opportunity to gain experience and skills that will directly benefit that.

SAMANTHA GUENTHER
SERVICESHIP INTERN, NORFOLK, NEB.

 

 

 

Red Cloud, Neb.

We are working in Red Cloud with the main project of developing an economic development plan for the community and passing LB840. LB840 is a legislative act that allows cities and villages to collect sales tax revenue for economic development in a variety of forms. Our other tasks include helping facilitate events, working with the heritage tourism project, and nuisance property maintenance.

We both arrived on Sunday night and began working in the office on Monday morning. Our office is located in The National Willa Cather Center. We spent the first day meeting the staff of the Cather Center, toured the office facilities, and toured the historical properties owned by the Center which included the Cather family’s original home and other notable sites. The Heritage Tourism Advisory board met that day as well which we were able to sit in. The Heritage Tourism project is a local/regional rural tourism focus based on history and culture of the region.

Although we have barely scratched the surface of our project here in Red Cloud, I can already feel the work Trenton and I are doing impact the community in a positive way. We are continuing to grow and learn from the people in this community, and by the time we are done this summer I know we will have gained an amazing and unique perspective that will carry us even further in our careers and life.

TREVOR HARLOW
SERVICESHIP INTERN, RED CLOUD, NEB.

On Tuesday we discussed the goals and outcomes of LB840 as well as the processes to get there. Our first step is to develop an economic development plan and form the legal wording which would be used by the city. Then, we would need to engage with the public by holding meetings to inform them of the measure which will eventually be on a ballot. Those are the two steps we hope to achieve this summer. Then, later, the measure will be put to a vote and a board is formed to dictate what the funds will be used for.

Later that day we took the “country tour” of the Cather sites which includes many of the places referenced in Willa Cather’s books (particularly My Antonia and O Pioneers!). This tour spanned most of central Webster County.

Our next meeting took place on Wednesday with the Economic Development Advisory Board in the city’s new Community Center. In that meeting we went over LB840. In the afternoon we toured the town’s newest project, the Garber Hotel. This project has been in the works for a couple of years and is now in the beginning stages of coming to fruition. The Red Cloud Community Foundation Fund is spearheading this project which seeks to renovate an old storefront into a 30-hotel named after the town’s founder and former state governor, Silas Garber.

Trevor and Trenton volunteer at the Starke Round Barn for a Red Cloud Alumni brunch.

Thursday, we had another meeting with the Bike Ride Across Nebraska (BRAN) board. BRAN is a bike ride that has about 300 riders. The town is hosting many activities for when the bikers come and stay in town on Wednesday,f June 6th. Later, we toured the Starke Round Barn. This barn, built in the early 20th century is the world’s largest round barn that was used for agricultural purposes. It is owned and maintained mostly by one person. Finally, we went through the Webster County Historical Museum.

We were visited by Marty Barnhart from the Omaha Landbank on Friday who discussed the model that they use in Omaha to deal with housing. Red Cloud also has a housing issue and many local citizens showed up for his presentation. The Valley Child Development Center (TVCDC) gave us a tour in the afternoon. This was the latest success for the city which fundraised a significant amount of money to open the center earlier this year. Late in the afternoon we helped a group of volunteers place honorary civil war plaques on the graves of veterans in the Red Cloud cemetery. In the evening we attended the Red Cloud Community Foundation Fund’s annual banquet in the town’s Opera House.

Tuesday and Wednesday we spent scraping paint off of a city-owned house. This was part of a community-wide cleanup event. Wednesday afternoon we interviewed the town grocery store’s owner. He recently purchased the store and moved back to Red Cloud this year. We were also given a tour of the town’s utilities by the city superintendent. Not only did we get to see the city’s four diesel electricity generators, but we even got to peer into a manhole built in the 1920s.

Trenton and Trevor attended the Cather Conference in the Red Cloud Opera House.

Thursday began the 63rd annual Willa Cather conference which we will be helping with/attending until Saturday evening when it concludes.

As a whole, most of the week was spent getting introduced to the town’s assets and stakeholders. For our task, this is a very important step because these people live and breath the problems of the community that we were sent here to help solve. We can already tell that the city has a lot going for it. There are many well organized groups who are trying to improve the town in many ways from tourism to athletics to housing. In the coming weeks we will be seeing a lot of these people and some new faces as we try to pin down the problem(s) that we want to help solve. We can already see a lot of the big issues. But, it is also a matter of understanding the limit of our influence both in direction for the town and financially.

Read More

This Week In Serviceship 2018: Week One!

May 25, 2018
Starting May 21, 2018, 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. Throughout the …

RFI Serviceship Group Photo. May 18, 2018. Photo by Craig Chandler / University Communication

Starting May 21, 2018, 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. Throughout the summer, the serviceship teams will share reflections and updates on their projects biweekly through RFI’s “This Week In Serviceship!” coverage.

 

2018 Serviceship!

 

Alliance, Neb.

The concept of our project is to create a Marketing Hometown America video to attract new residents to Box Butte County. We are also creating social media hashtags and providing input on websites that are involved with Box Butte County. We have yet to determine how long the video will be, but as of right now we have brainstormed multiple hashtags for Alliance and have gotten a good idea of who we want to interview in Alliance and Hemingford for the video. We have also looked through the websites and provided suggestions to improve them.

We have had a very busy first week. On Monday, we toured Alliance to get an idea of where everything was and met the people who work in our office. On Tuesday, we toured Hemingford, met many business owners and had a meeting. On Wednesday, we worked on hashtags and video ideas, had a meeting at the Knights Museum and Sandhills Center in Alliance and then had an afternoon meeting in our office. We took pictures of the meetings.

Executive Director of the Alliance Chamber Susan Unzicker said, “Mirissa and Haley have given us in the office a new view of the community through our websites and other outside activities.”

Haley and Mirissa pose with Joni Jespersen of Hemingford, Neb., who is part of their host team during their Serviceship in Alliance.

On Thursday, we had a meeting at First National Bank with the branch president and the president of First National Bank from Omaha, Clark Lauritzen. Then, we went to Chadron and had a meeting with the Western Nebraska Development Network. We also discussed the Alliance and Hemingford websites with our lead mentor Chelsie Herian. On Friday, we sat in on a talk with the Alliance Times-Herald and also visited with a storyteller about our project.

Some cool people we have met while we have been here are: Joni Jespersen, Brenda McDonald, Chas Lierk, Ellen Lierk, Chelsie Herian, Susan Unzicker, Nita Peterson, and Jenny Nixon. Joni is with the village of Hemingford and has attended meetings with us. Brenda works with the Panhandle Prevention Coalition. Chas and Ellen are our host family for the first two weeks we are in Alliance. Chelsie is our lead mentor. Susan and Nita both work in our office and Jenny is with Nebraska Extension. They are all very helpful and will be wonderful to work with while doing this project.

A key takeaway we have realized is that we balance each other out really well. Haley is more go with the flow and Mirissa is high strung but we both think a lot alike when it comes to ideas and contributions to the project. We think we are going to be successful!

This experience has made me realize how important leadership is in rural communities, and I hope that Haley and I can represent Box Butte County in the best way possible so people see what a great place it is to live and work.
Mirissa Scholting
Serviceship Intern, Alliance, Neb.

McCook, Neb.

Day one of week one was spent meeting community members and getting a tour of downtown McCook from our project supervisors Carol Schlegel and Ben Dutton. Walking the brick streets that pave the way for the many successful local shops was definitely a highlight to our first day! We will primarily report to Carol, McCook’s Tourism Director, since our primary project is creating an action plan for organizing and remodeling the High Plains Museum. After touring the museum, we both agreed that we have more work to do than we expected. However, we are tackling the challenge ahead with fixed determination and high energy.

Through the Rural Futures Institute Serviceship, I have realized that the ideas and work Emily and I bring to the table have actual value in helping make real, positive change in a rural community. The collaboration between community and service is what makes this project so fun and diverse.

SAGE WILLIAMS
SERVICESHIP INTERN, MCCOOK, NEB.

There will have differing opinions to work with as we move forward, which means what we learned during our serviceship training about leadership, personality types and strengths will definitely be useful. We look forward to working In collaboration with the museum board to decide on the direction the museum wants to go and who the target audience is in order to move forward.

Emily and Sage visited Carhenge at the Knights Museum in Alliance, Neb., while looking for ideas to improve the High Plains Museum in McCook.

To get a few ideas moving forward, we traveled to the Legacy of the Plains Museum in Gering, as well as the Knights Museum in Alliance where we also stopped at the famous Carhenge! These were two very high quality museums, and we were able to pull several new and innovative ideas to potentially apply to the High Plains museum. We invested in flip charts to gather our thoughts after our day of asking questions and note taking at other museums. Since then, we have been photographing items in the museum and, as Carol requested, putting together an inventory of the museum’s assets.

After walking through other museums and brainstorming ideas for the High Plains Museum, we have realized how much potential there really is for the local space. The High Plains Museum could become an important landmark to McCook–one that people will travel from miles around to see and can’t leave town without visiting. Beyond creating a main attraction for tourists, our goal is to make the museum a place that locals keep coming back to through seasonal displays and events. The supportive community of McCook has us excited and hopeful as we proceed with these thoughts in mind!

The Rural Futures Institute Serviceship has taught me that Nebraskans have a shared pride for the rural communities they get to call home.
Emily Frenzen
Serviceship Intern, McCook, Neb.

McCook THETA Camps

We have had an amazing first few days here in McCook. As a trio, THETA is continuing to build upon the foundation laid last summer. We have instantly been thrown into action here in the small community of McCook where we have been making several connections as well as increasing the numbers for our camp attendance this summer.

I’ve felt very welcomed by the community of McCook and in the first week I’ve already seen a large variety of special things that makes McCook stand out from the pack.

BRAD SCHOCH
SERVICESHIP INTERN, MCCOOK THETA CAMPS

 

Our first full day in town, Monday, we started off by stopping by the hospital to visit with Sarah Wolford and let her know that we made it and are ready to get to work. We also visited the local YMCA, the new facility for the THETA camp, to continue to build relationships and look over the utilities and room we will have access to this year. We believe that the YMCA will be a great location for us to have another successful camp this year as we have plenty of space and resources at our fingertips.

The THETA trio talked with Rich Barnett of High Plains Radio about RFI and their camps live on the air.

Continuing on to Tuesday, we were notified in the morning that we were to be at the local radio station, High Plains Radio, in 45 minutes to promote the Rural Futures Institute and our THETA camp live on the air. We had a great time at the radio station where we were able to visit with a few locals as well as the radio host, Rich Barnett. We also connected face-to-face with Rhonda Graft who will give us additional volunteer opportunities that we will be participating in this summer. Bike Across Nebraska will be stopping in McCook in early June, giving us a chance to help out the community since an influx of people will be stopping in McCook. This opportunity is great for us and the businesses in McCook.

We proceeded to stay busy on Wednesday as we visited the hospital again for orientation and to continue meeting more of the locals of McCook. It was a great experience to see this hospital and how the staff all works together in order to accomplish a shared goal–quality patient care. Tyan and Collin visited the physical therapist they shadowed last year and will be shadowing again this year, and Brad connected through a phone call with the clinic whose doctors he will shadow.

It has been great to see all the old faces and reconnect with past connections. I’m looking forward to another great summer.
Tyan Boyer
Serviceship Intern, McCook THETA Camps

Neligh, Neb.

We are conducting a market analyses, or regional mapping report, on both Neligh, Neb., and the greater Northeast Nebraska region. The mapping report will highlight demographics, SWOT assessments, current and future economic trends, infrastructure reports, geography, and identify technologies for integration into Neligh’s “Responsive City” movement. This report will be used to shape the projects within Neligh’s strategic planning process.

Rhiannon and Michayla sat in on the Nebraska Main Street conference in Beatrice, Neb.

On Monday we went on a walking tour of the downtown business district where we met countless active members of boards and business owners. That evening we sat in on a meeting with Nebraska Community Foundation and the Neligh Community Foundation. The next project for Neligh is renovating the old movie theater in town to get it functional again.

Michayla volunteering at the Thriftway Market Burger Bash.

On Wednesday, we had the cool opportunity to travel to Beatrice for a Nebraska Main Street conference. There we heard from economic developers, both private and public, about projects that are going on around the state and learned of funding opportunities for projects. While we were there a discussion occurred where the question was posed, “How do we get young people to come back to rural Nebraska?” It was interesting to see how different generations viewed that challenge differently and had vastly different solutions that could work. On Thursday we worked in the office as well as attended a City Council informational meeting about the nursing home in Neligh. There recently has been some controversy around management so the city is considering leasing the building. On Friday we served burgers at the Thriftway Market Burger Bash.

This week, we both had some key takeaways. Rhiannon learned how nice people are in small towns, that assumptions are detrimental to development and that leadership and knowledge go beyond positions. Michayla learned that misconceptions exist across all divides, that good ideas can come from anyone regardless of title and how often and easy it is to “cut and paste” solutions in economic development.

 

Seward, Neb.

We are working with the Seward County Chamber & Development Partnership (SCCDP) under the mentorship of Jonathan Jank. Our primary project is to develop a sustainable Seward County Newcomers program that will engage new permanent residents and many visitors to Seward County each year. We are also teaming up with local businesses to determine how to attract new customers and to take a fresh look at Seward County to determine what first impressions newcomers have of local communities.

We have specifically started to narrow down our goals for the summer. We will be trying to reach out to newcomers and get more information on how we can make Seward County “sticky.” Some of the questions we will ask members of the community include: “What attracted you to move to Seward?” and “How was your experience moving into Seward? What went great? What could have been better?” We will also try to reach out to leaders of surrounding communities such as Milford, Utica, Bee and Cordova. We also know that the lack of housing has been a problem in Seward County. We are trying to find out the necessary information that can help retain newcomers to staying in Seward County in the long term. Conducting surveys or simply setting up meetings with new families and people to the community may solve this.

 

Maddie poses outside of the Nebraska National Guard Museum in Seward.

This week, we met with the local Kiwanis Club, who are a generous child advocacy group consisting of about 50 members. We were invited to join them for lunch on Monday and were introduced to the club’s president Jerry Meyer. Jerry, who is also curator of the Nebraska National Guard Museum, was generous enough to give us a personal tour of the museum and talked with us for an hour about the community. We then participated in the Seward County Chamber & Development Program board meeting, sharing insight into the SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely) goals that Seward County will need to be setting for community and economic development.

On Tuesday, we prepared a press release, and then we sat down for a long goal setting conversation with our mentor Jonathan. We also met with Sarah Skinner, who works for Senator Deb Fischer, and she informed us of the work Senator Fischer is doing in rural America. We then made phone calls to influential community members to set up a time to meet with–this meeting would entail information gathering, for us to get better clarity as to what Seward County needs to stay “sticky.”

 

On Wednesday, we met with Mallory Gibreal. She is the Director of Community Relations at Memorial Health Care Systems. She recently moved to Seward with her husband this past February. We met with her to get more information about what attracted her to Seward, what was good about her moving experience and what could have been better. She gave us very useful information to help us start to find more newcomers and how to retain newcomers in Seward County.

Read More