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Reimers-Hild shares rural perspective, futurist lens at Women’s Forum Global Meeting

November 26, 2018
  Connie Reimers-Hild, Ph.D., Rural Futures Institute Interim Executive Director & Chief Futurist, spoke as a panelist during the Women’s Forum Global Meeting in Paris, France, Nov. 16. Bringing a distinctly female perspective to defining strategies to create the conditions for …

RFI interim executive director Connie Reimers-Hild speaks are women's forum global meeting

 

Connie Reimers-Hild, Ph.D., Rural Futures Institute Interim Executive Director & Chief Futurist, spoke as a panelist during the Women’s Forum Global Meeting in Paris, France, Nov. 16.

Bringing a distinctly female perspective to defining strategies to create the conditions for action, global leaders from society and economy convened at this year’s meeting to bridge divides and move towards more inclusive progress for all of humanity.

During the “Designing Cities and Economies for the Future” panel Reimers-Hild contributed her futurist lens and rural perspective to the conversation that addressed the expected shift of the majority of the global population to cities by 2050. The session’s hashtag was #futurecities.

Fellow panelists included:

  • Estelle Brachlianoff, COO, Veolia
  • Pascale Sourisse, Senior Executive Vice President, International Development Thales International
  • Catherine Guillouard, CEO, RATP

 

Speaker Bios

 

Questions posed to the panelists included:

  • What is an inclusive vision of cities in the future? How can women’s leadership help achieve this vision?
  • How might design and planning for societal and life changes help meet the needs of, and tap opportunities presented by, young and old alike?
  • How will cities of the future be more human cities? What roles do the private and public sector play in ensuring cities grow to be human?

 

Reimers-Hild presented four key points during the conversation.

 

  1. We need to plan for both underpopulation and overpopulation of physical communities. There is an interconnectedness between urban and rural that we can no longer ignore, and our global ecosystem must support more than people. Women who are economically empowered provide not only their ideas and innovations but also give back to their families and communities. Numerous studies show that positive global transformation occurs when women are empowered.
  2. Access to health, well-being and vitality for all. What does it look like for every person on the planet to have great places to live, clean water, sanitation, transportation, sustainable energy, activity and proper nutrition? How do we provide access to health, well-being and vitality for all people in the future?
  3. Advancements in technology and science are changing expectations and demands of humans. Demographic shifts, psychographic shifts, IoT, AI, robotics, mobile tech, intelligent transportation are all interwoven factors.
  4. Broadband and high speed connectivity will be critical components of future communities both physically and digitally. This requires a systems approach to infrastructure. How many physical structures do we need? Should more of this money be invested into virtual opportunities? New systems can create the flexibility women need to earn income, support their families and prioritize their own well-being. Women possess the creativity, knowledge and desire needed to implement new living systems designed to improve outcomes for children, families, communities and the environment.
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November 21, 2018

November 21, 2018
Dr. Connie has co-founder of @Handlebend, Matt Dennis, on the Rural Futures Podcast this week! 🤔 Gift idea?! You’ll want to listen to this rural leader’s take on the future of workforce for rural areas, leadership that creates action and …

Dr. Connie has co-founder of @Handlebend, Matt Dennis, on the Rural Futures Podcast this week!

🤔 Gift idea?!

You’ll want to listen to this rural leader’s take on the future of workforce for rural areas, leadership that creates action and what it means to sell an experience from beginning to end.

Read More

Episode 15: Nutrition Communicator Amber Pankonin intersects agriculture, consumer confidence, branding

October 25, 2018
            Dietitians have been dealing with fake news forever, but Amber Pankonin, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Communicator, accepted the challenge. She works as a solopreneur, consulting with farmers and producers about how to message and …

 

 

     

 

Dietitians have been dealing with fake news forever, but Amber Pankonin, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Communicator, accepted the challenge. She works as a solopreneur, consulting with farmers and producers about how to message and brand their products to not only resonate with consumers, but to create healthier lifestyles. A true rural maverick, Amber has created a community through her recipe site Stirlist.com and her podcast for entrepreneurs Healthy Under Pressure.

In this episode she talks with Dr. Connie about the challenges and solutions facing dietitians, farmers and consumers thanks to increasing access to information. She passionately encourages collaboration and individualization, explores the future of nutrigenomics and emboldens other entrepreneurs to take the plunge.

“I remember my mom and dad telling me that I needed to appreciate everything that was on my plate, because a farmer worked really hard to produce that.”
Amber Pankonin, RD
Nutrition Communicator, Stirlist.com; Host, Healthy Under Pressure Podcast

About Amber

                                 

Amber Pankonin is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Nutrition Communications Consultant based in Lincoln, Neb. She shares her love for food and nutrition at Stirlist.com and hosts Healthy Under Pressure, a podcast that highlights the stories and struggles of entrepreneurs and busy people learning to live healthy under pressure. Amber is also a local radio and television personality, serving as a health and wellness commentator each week on KFOR and 1011 News in Lincoln, Neb. This year she is serving as the Marketing Chair for the Nebraska Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and an adjunct instructor.

 

Mentioned In The Episode

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Bold Voices Student Segment

We are proud to provide this week’s Bold Voices segment at the 15:00 mark of this episode to feature Trevor Harlow, senior political science and environmental studies major from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Trevor hails from Waterloo, Neb., and in his interview he emphasizes the need for perspective.

I think it’s really important and really critical to look at those different societies, those different ways of living in those different communities based upon the urban and rural pipeline, and see how they interact and how they affect the overall functioning of a society,” he says.

 

Show Notes

Dr. Connie: Welcome back to the Rural Futures podcast. Joining us today is Amber Pankonin. Amber is a registered dietician, recipe developer, and nutrition communicator based in Lincoln, Nebraska, welcome to the podcast, Amber.

Amber Pankonin: Thanks for having me.

Dr. Connie: I should say you’re also a fellow podcaster, Healthy Under Pressure, which everybody should be listening to.

Amber Pankonin: Thank you so much, I know we’ve talked about podcasting, it’s a fun thing to do.

Dr. Connie: It is fun, and we’re so excited to have people tuned in here to listen to what you have to say, and I would like to just dive into a little bit more background, tell us a little bit about your business.

Amber Pankonin: I’m a registered dietician and nutrition communicator. Healthy Under Pressure highlights the stories and struggles of entrepreneurs and busy people who are trying to stay healthy, under pressure. I’m doing a lot of recipe development, and also brand work. So I create messages for brands and companies who really need help getting those messages to consumers in terms of how food is produced and how we can make meals at home that are simple, and easy. I love producing recipes like that, for busy people like ourselves, that we can just whip up in minutes and have on the table in 30 minutes or less.

Dr. Connie: That really makes you my hero, I have to say.

(laughter)

Dr. Connie: Because we do, a lot of us need that. Tell us a little bit too now, what got you interested in this? And what do you do, we know kind of a little bit about what you do, but tell us a little bit more about being a dietician and some of the avenues people take in this space.

Amber Pankonin: Absolutely, so I became interested in dietetics because I studied nutrition science during college, I actually thought I was going to maybe go to PA school.

Dr. Connie: Oh really?

Amber Pankonin: But I took a little detour and spent some time living in DC, I came back to Lincoln, I worked as a cook for about a year and I realized, I think I really want to pursue dietetics, which is when I applied to the internship at the University of Nebraska, and really went that route, and what I learned is that dieticians practice in a number of different areas. So we find dieticians who are in the academic space, so maybe they’re teaching, or they’re doing research. We see dieticians who are working in the school system, so maybe they’re planning menus, or they’re working in the kitchen in terms of staffing the kitchen. We also see that in the clinical side, too. So we have dieticians who are managing hospital kitchens, and managing employees, and then we see those dieticians who are actually working alongside the nurses and the doctors, and all of the different practitioners who are managing nutrition for a patient, and that’s actually what I did for a number of years before I stepped into more of a communicator role.

Dr. Connie: A lot of times when we hear a word like dietician we’re not quite clear about what it is, let alone all the different career paths you can take with it.

Amber Pankonin: Right, right, well the first, four, what? The first three letters, excuse me, of the word diet, are die.

(laughter)

Dr. Connie: Good point!

Amber Pankonin: So it doesn’t always sound appealing, and a lot of people think dieticians are food police, and I swear we’re not!

(laughter)

Amber Pankonin: I love food, which is why I’m a dietician, so I love talking about food, I love talking about how to prepare food, and really talking about how food nourishes us and can really set us up for success.

Dr. Connie: Okay, I know also you teach at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln, so tell us about your classes that you’re teaching as well, and why you do that.

Amber Pankonin: Right, so my favorite professor in college at UNL came to me a few years ago and asked me to teach Nutrition 250, which is Human Nutrition and Metabolism, and this semester I’m actually teaching Nutrition for Optimal Wellness, so it’s really fun because there’s a different mix of students in there. They’re going to be future dieticians, PTs, OTs, personal trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, and it’s all about the application of nutrition.

Dr. Connie: That’s so interesting to think about how you’re teaching, and obviously podcasting, but just the influence and reach you have on so many different professions, and even entrepreneurs, by doing what you do.

(music transition)

Amber Pankonin: What I found is after I left my clinical role, I didn’t have any colleagues around me anymore. You know how you would sit in a break room, and you have people around you, I didn’t have that anymore, and I really found that on social media. I remember jumping on Twitter and doing searches for dieticians, and I found dieticians who are all over the country, and so that really inspired me then to learn about what they were doing, and how they were running businesses, which really encouraged me to make that jump into entrepreneurship.

Dr. Connie: So was there a defining moment that you decided to start a business, or was it more just a thoughtful process? Tell us a little bit about your entrepreneurial journey.

Amber Pankonin: Well, I was raised by entrepreneurs, and I married an entrepreneur, and I have a lot of friends who are entrepreneurs, so,

(laughter)

Dr. Connie: So you’re surrounded.

Amber Pankonin: I’m surrounded, I’m surrounded, but there was a moment, and it was actually again when I was working as a clinical dietician, my role in that was to calculate tube feeds for patients, so just how babies have formula that they have to get fed every few hours, well when we have a critical patient, we do the same thing for them. I am not a huge fan of math, I mean, I can do math, but it’s not my favorite thing, but I remember sitting in a corner spot, near a patient’s room, and I’m calculating tube feeds thinking, what am I doing here? Because I was so appreciative to have the job, but I knew I wasn’t using my skills and my talents to my full potential, and so that was when I said I need to figure out what I’m going to do here.

Dr. Connie: You think your parents being entrepreneurs had any influence on your decision to start a business?

Amber Pankonin: Absolutely, because I saw risk being played out my whole life, in terms of the things that my dad did, and the support that my mom gave him through that whole process, and especially too having siblings who are also entrepreneurial as well, I think just knowing that, okay, so you take a risk, if you fail, it’s okay, you get back up and you figure out what you’re going to do, and so when I took that risk, it was really kind of scary because I thought maybe we would have a runway, with my husband and I thought, well, maybe there’s a runway of time here that I would have maybe a three to six month window before I really started, or needed to have income, and my husband was actually let go from his job a month after I had quit mine, and so, right.

Dr. Connie:I know, I just, it’s such an amazing story.

(laughter)

Amber Pankonin: I know probably most people would freak out, and we did freak out, I mean I’m not going to say we didn’t freak out, but I think we knew that it was going to be okay. And my husband was also raised by entrepreneurs, and so I think we both knew that, alright, this is when it’s going to get real and we will do this together.

Dr. Connie: That’s so interesting to think about the timing of that all, do you ever think there was a reason? Like the universe was trying to tell you something within that timing?

Amber Pankonin: I don’t know if you’re ever truly ready for entrepreneurship, and I think we just were given that push. And granted, I made the choice to leave my job, but I could have sat on that for a very long time, but I felt at peace in that, and having the faith background that I do, I just knew that it was going to be okay.

(music transition)

Dr. Connie: We’re sitting here, and we’re actually recording this in your very cool podcast studio in downtown Lincoln, but why are you here and how does this all connect back to rural? I mean, we have you on as a rural maverick, I’m just going to state it, and we want to dive into that a little bit.

Amber Pankonin: Sure, so, when I was in grad school, I remember looking at nutrition communications as a potential avenue for me, and one of my professors laughed in my face. She said, “Amber, if you are going to do communications, you need to live in either LA, or New York, you can’t possibly do communications from Lincoln, Nebraska.”

Dr. Connie: Wait a second, backup, backup.

Amber Pankonin: I know.

Dr. Connie: I’m, A, I’m really sad that that happened at a university, but B, this is a critical communications piece, I mean we really can’t tell people these things and send that message, but it sounds like obviously you had the great reaction to it, but that’s just disappointing, I mean honestly it’s disappointing, but I imagine that made you a little bit more of a rebel.

(laughter)

Amber Pankonin: Well, exactly, I think it really helped motivate me, and you’ll be thrilled to know that this individual is no longer at the university, but honestly, social media, again, showed me that the world was flat, and it didn’t matter where I lived, and so I could live in Lincoln, Nebraska, as we’ve talked about before, people have described Nebraska as a flyover state, that’s not necessarily the case anymore because of digital communications, you can have those opportunities wherever you live. That conversation definitely motivated me to move forward.

Dr. Connie: Well that’s why we need rural mavericks and entrepreneurs out there to think about what people are saying, but then do what they want and need to do, so we so appreciate that, because one of the things we hear a lot at the Rural Futures Institute, and obviously technology is a huge part of our focus, so is rural-urban collaboration, you’ve connected all of that, you’re putting together rural and urban, you’re connecting people through technology, but you’re also helping them have a more positive outcome doing it.

(music transition)

Dr. Connie: So tell us what you see as success for your business? Where do you ultimately see this going, what’s your vision?

Amber Pankonin: Not to keep going back to this conversation around social media, but it really did have an impact in that conversation because I had a really unique perspective in that I got to see what consumers were saying about food, and nutrition, and that allowed me immediate access to them, to be able to answer their questions no matter where they lived, and so I could jump in at that point, answer their questions, and build that relationship. And it’s been interesting to see, again, the evolution of those conversations and how we’ve advanced talking about food, nutrition, and agriculture, and how the dietician can work with scientists, and work with farmers, to really communicate that message about where food comes from.

Dr. Connie: And I think that does influence people’s’ thoughts about rural, very much so, what do you see in that space? How do you see people maybe connecting, or needing to reconnect, and maybe how they would have their thoughts influenced about rural and where food comes from?

Amber Pankonin: Right, well it’s interesting because I think the stat is one in four are connected to the farm, or connected to ag in some way, and that didn’t used to be the case. Where most of us used to be connected to the farm, or have a direct connection, and so consumers are being more removed from their food, and so I think it’s really, really important to see our farmers and producers who are jumping into that conversation, and I see myself more as a reinforcer of those messages, and also helping them to understand, here’s how you talk to somebody about food, and how it’s produced, same thing with the scientists, because as you know, being around researchers, they can use some really big words, that can sound really scary. In fact, I was on this tour a few months ago and we were talking about, it had to do with canned food and the scientist had said something about ascorbic acid being added, and I remember this mom blogger behind me freaked out, she didn’t understand that that’s another term for vitamin C, and so being able to I think have those conversations with farmers, and scientists, and say, here’s how we can put it into everyday terms for consumers to understand so that they don’t fear their food.

Dr. Connie: Yeah, I really appreciate that, because it’s true. I mean, as an academic you’re sort of trained in one way,and so that’s how you write, and speak. But the end user, so many times, of that information, they’re not in that space, but they just want that practical, what do I need to know? Just in time information, and I think people like you are really helping bridge that gap, and it’s needed, it’s been needed for a long time. The university and other places have talked about this need for ag literacy, food literacy, these types of things, but starting in the middle of a cornfield is a really hard place for people to learn.

Amber Pankonin: It’s a really hard place, and we call it Ag Twitter.

(laughter)

Amber Pankonin: I think, again, social media really brought some community to farmers and producers to see that they weren’t alone, and that they could align themselves strategically with dieticians, and farmers, and other food communicators who are willing to help them.

(music transition)

Welcome to Bold Voices, our segment with rockstar students from the University of Nebraska, who are making a difference in rural.

Katy Bagniewski: Hey podcast listeners, it’s Katy, production specialist of the Rural Futures podcast. With me today is Trevor Harlow, a senior political science and environmental studies dual major at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, welcome Trevor.

Trevor Harlow: Hi, thanks for having me.

Katy Bagniewski: And thanks for being on, now are you from rural, or why do you care so much about rural?

Trevor Harlow: So, originally I was born and raised in Waterloo, Nebraska, which is a small town, but I just, as somebody who’s really interested in administration at both a city, state, and federal level, I think it’s really important and really critical to look at those different societies, those different ways of living, those different communities based upon the urban and rural pipeline, and see how they interact and how they affect the overall functioning of a society.

Katy Bagniewski: Yeah, and I know that you have to really dive deep into that aspect of rural communities this summer through RFI’s Student Servership.

Trevor Harlow: Yeah, for sure, so this past summer I spent my time in Red Cloud, Nebraska, which is about three hours from Omaha, just on the Kansas border, and really what I was doing is that city planning, exactly. We worked on developing a comprehensive economic development plan, so really that gave me a chance to critically look at a rural based community, and how they operate, what they’re doing good, what they can be doing better, and just come up with an idea with them of how they can keep getting better in the future.

Katy Bagniewski: And from your experience being immersed in that rural community, what do you see as the biggest opportunity in rural?

Trevor Harlow: A rural community, what’s so special about it, is since it’s small and it’s integrated with its citizens so well, you can come into a community like that and immediately become a prominent, known, and valued member of the community just by wanting to be active, which is so cool, so really anything you’re interested in, you can go there, you can make it known, and you can show your passion for it. I would say anybody, no matter what you’re interested in, you can always find some aspect of that in rural, just because of how community driven those places are.

Katy Bagniewski: So how has RFI and your whole servership experience really impacted your college career, and then your plans looking forward?

Trevor Harlow: It’s been one of the biggest impacts I’ve had in college, I would probably even say the biggest impact, honestly, because prior to that I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, and I wasn’t really sure how I wanted to go about doing it, but just getting an opportunity just to work in that kind of setting, city planning, developing a plan, critically analyzing a community and looking at its benefits and what it can improve upon, that really got me thinking about that the public administration route is what I want to do, and that’s the future I want to pursue, so that was something I had in my mind beforehand but it really helped me solidify that, and it gave me a great baseline training for it.

Katy Bagniewski: So, do you have any advice for students who may be interested in rural communities and city planning?

Trevor Harlow: I would definitely say the biggest one, especially with rural communities, is just to go out and be there, I mean you don’t have to live in one for 10 weeks like we did this summer to be immersed in them, you can just go and you can experience it, and just see what it’s about, and maybe it’s not for everyone, but I think until you give it a try of just going out and experiencing it, you’re never going to know. And it’s also just important to keep your options open because like I said earlier, all those communities you really can do anything you want to do if you’re passionate, so just leave it open, try to experience it, and just see what it can be for you.

Katy Bagniewski: Yeah, I think that whole concept of being open to the opportunity that lies in rural is so critical for us college students, and I know at RFI that we are very thankful that you were open to this opportunity of RFI servership.

Trevor Harlow: Yes, for sure.

Katy Bagniewski: So thank you Trevor for talking to us today.

Trevor Harlow: Thank you very much.

(music transition)

Dr. Connie: We’ve had a theme at the Rural Futures Institute of why rural, why now? And I think people are a little challenged around rural, understanding rural, and so one of the things that we’ve talked about is the importance of where your food comes from. The world’s food supply, and even water supply, largely, come from rural, so if we’re going to have a more sustainable future for all, rural and urban have to work together, but people have to value rural, and help the people living there.

Amber Pankonin: I think that if we’re seeing more people who are removed from food and agriculture, there is less respect, and there has been less respect in the past few years, especially online. It’s amazing when I see the conversation about farmers and producers and people living in rural communities, and I’m just floored, because when I was little my grandparents actually farmed, and I remember my mom and dad telling me that I needed to appreciate what was on my plate because a farmer worked really hard to produce that. So I feel like I have a very different perspective, or had a different perspective growing up, I never would have insulted a farmer. And so some of the conversation that I see right now just seems to be a little negative, it’s a lack of respect, and I think it’s because it’s a lack of understanding of what people do, of what farmers do.

Dr. Connie: We’ve talked a lot about how do we create better research questions, and better conversations, so it’s not an either or, but it’s a both and world.

Amber Pankonin: Right, when I even look at the curriculum for dieticians, I work with a lot of students and it’s so interesting to me to hear their thoughts on food production. They’ve been led to believe that the word processed is bad.

Dr. Connie: Yeah, I can see that, right, right.

Amber Pankonin: It’s having conversations like that to teach them that you are going to be, the future dietician, the future trusted food and nutrition professional, you have to be able to answer questions about how food is produced, because so often we hear things from another person, or those soundbites, and we just pass them on as if they’re truth, without being skeptical, and so I think that’s a really important part of the conversation as well.

(music transition)

Dr. Connie: You talked about processed food and the negative vibes people get from that, so tell us a little bit more about why that’s not always a negative?

Amber Pankonin: So even canned fruits and vegetables, it’s a processed food, and I know that folks will tend to think negatively about a canned food, where actually some canned foods can be very nutritious because, as you know, some are peaked right when they’re the most nutritious, and even using that scary sounding ascorbic acid, which is vitamin C, that adds some really great nutrition, and so just because it says processed, or you think of it as processed, processed can actually be a really good thing. Even when you pick an apple, you’re technically processing, so there are a lot of ways that you can view that word and I think we just need to shift that word into being more of a positive than a negative.

(music transition)

Dr. Connie: Well I know one of your areas of expertise is fake news, and I loved reading about that a little bit more when you gave us some background info about yourself, so tell us, what exactly is fake news? And how do we get around that so we are getting the real information?

Amber Pankonin: Well it’s funny because that term, obviously has been used a lot in the last couple of years, but dieticians have been dealing with fake news forever. Because as you know, we can get food nutrition information from anywhere. If it’s on the internet, it must be true.

Dr. Connie: Right, that’s right.

Amber Pankonin: And now we see that fake information being presented in those documentaries, or what I like to call “shockumentaries”, and it’s so easy to hear from a blogger who’s not educated about food nutrition, or agriculture, but they’ve built this massive following and they’re considered an influencer, and they’re spreading that, what I would call ‘fake news’.

Dr. Connie: The great thing about technology is you can build a platform, I think the challenge is anybody can build a platform, so it is confusing, I think, to see what’s real, what’s not, how do you sift through it, and really get information that you can use in a positive way.

Amber Pankonin: I tell people that you need to look at whoever is writing that article, look for an author name, see if they have any credentials behind their name, see what their history is, who are they associated with, who’s funding them, I think that, that all goes into being skeptical and doing the work of looking at that information.

(music transition)

Dr. Connie: I want to know about your leadership style, how would you characterize yourself as a leader?

Amber Pankonin: Well I think I told you this earlier, I don’t really know how to answer that because I’ve been in leadership roles, and it’s also awkward as an influencer to be considered a leader but I realize as an influencer you are a leader, but I would say I love winning others over, I have that woo factor.

Dr. Connie: You do, I know, you’re into Gallup Strengths like I am, and you definitely have the woo factor.

Amber Pankonin: And I’m also an activator, so I love to start things, I struggle with the finish, as far as really carrying it out, but I just, I love to get people together, and I love to work on things in groups, with people, and that’s weird as a solopreneur, which is why I stay really active professionally within my state organization of dieticians, which is the Nebraska Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, so I was president of that group about two years ago. I love to encourage, especially other RDs, to have a little more confidence in themselves and their skills in terms of asking for money in their job, in terms of wanting other advancements in their job, and it’s been such a fun thing to see my colleagues advance in the last few years.

Dr. Connie: Now why do you think that’s such a challenge for people, to actually ask for what they want and feel like they’re valuable enough to receive it?

Amber Pankonin: It’s tough, especially as a new dietician, I’ll never forget this, one of my first jobs with a master’s degree, I was getting paid about $12 an hour.

Dr. Connie: Oh wow.

Amber Pankonin: And so I switched positions, I found a new job, and even then, it was pretty low, it was about $17 an hour, and then I found a cross posting from another position, about an hour away, and I was able to take that to my employer and say, look at this, this is a five dollar difference, and at the time I had a boss who was also a woman, she was incredible, and she took that directly to administration, and I was able to get a pay increase, but I think it’s tough, especially when you’re a new graduate, and when you are a woman, and I just think I knew that there was more, I knew that she could do something, so there was some trust there, but that’s hard because I think we get intimidated, I don’t think sometimes we have enough confidence to ask, and if you don’t ask you’ll never know what the answer is.

Dr. Connie: That’s right, I mean good for you for just asking and trying that, but what gave you the confidence to go forward and do that?

Amber Pankonin: Well, it had been validated by another job posting, I knew that I could probably go there and get that job and get paid that amount, and so that gave me some confidence, to be able to go and to ask, but naturally too, like we talked about leadership earlier, I wanted to set an example for the rest of my peers, and my colleagues, to say, you could do this, and even as a new graduate it was nice to be able to get that done.

Dr. Connie: Well, and do you feel like as a solopreneur, which is a choice you’re making, being a solopreneur, that you’re still paving and blazing that trail, I would say especially for other female entrepreneurs, we’ve talked about this in our pre-convo, Nebraska’s 50 out of 50 states for females in entrepreneurship, so it’s always exciting to see a woman in business going for it, but how do you think, as a state, how could we foster more women in entrepreneurship?

Amber Pankonin: Well I know for myself, when I was considering possibly doing a tech startup, this was years ago, too, I had competed in a Startup Weekend project, or a Startup Weekend event, and my team, we won that event, and so it was kind of fun to just, I guess imagine what it could be like to maybe run a startup and what that could look like, and at the same time, my husband was also launching his startup, and we both quickly realized that we would be competing for funding, and not that I didn’t want to compete against my husband, but I also wanted to stay married.

(laughter)

Dr. Connie: Right, no, I get that, I get that.

Amber Pankonin: And so, I think there is, there’s something to that competitive spirit, I don’t know a lot of women who have that competitive spirit when it comes to entrepreneurship. I think the ones that you see who are doing it well, there is a spirit of competitiveness, and I think you have to have that.

Dr. Connie: Yeah, I think, actually competition is one of my top five, and I know Katelyn Ideus, our executive producer is high in competition as well.

(laughter)

Dr. Connie: When it comes to those Gallup Strengths, it’s kind of interesting how that can play out because I think, also people don’t expect it.

Amber Pankonin: Right, right, well, I’ve heard this phrase about collaboration over competition, and I would say you have to have both, you have to have that competitive spirit but you also have to learn how to work with other people, because that is a part of being successful. I know I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without my tribe, without my team of folks, and so you have to have both.

(music transition)

Dr. Connie: Tell us a little bit more about what brings you joy in your life, I mean obviously Healthy Under Pressure, and ways to be healthy, and I love the way you talk about that, that it’s the whole piece of physical, spiritual, nutrition, all of that, so tell us how you do that.

Amber Pankonin: Well, when we think about wellness, it’s so easy to just focus on, what did you have for lunch that day? What kind of workout did you get in? And when I see the top 10 causes of death, suicide now is included in that top 10 list, in fact it’s past, I believe, certain types of cancer and heart disease as being one of the top causes of death, and so there’s a lot that goes into that, and so you have to consider that it’s not just about your physical wellness. We have to look at our emotional, and our spiritual, and our mental health, and so I think it’s a mix of what you’re doing physically, including that good nutrition, getting some exercise, but also how you’re nourishing your mind and your spirit. And I saw that personally with myself and my husband, we’re both entrepreneurs, and of course when you’re running a business, it’s so tough, and it’s tough to take care of yourself, so we both quickly realized that there was more that we needed to do in terms of our spiritual and our mental health.

Dr. Connie: So how do you keep those in check? I know you help others with it, what are some things you do for yourselves?

Amber Pankonin: Right, so, of course with nutrition I make sure that we try to eat a lot of our meals at home, I do online grocery shopping just to help keep on track there, but also making time for physical activity I think is super important, getting outside is really important. Actually, so this is my hack with Peloton, I know you said you kind of like to bike, I bought a used spin bike and then I just use the Peloton app, and I have found that that’s one of my favorite ways to exercise, because I love the music, and I love somebody coaching me through it. So that’s one of my favorite forms of exercise right now. Maybe someday I’ll get the real Peloton bike.

(laughter)

Dr. Connie: I love a biking hack, that’s awesome.

Amber Pankonin: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And then in terms of just our spiritual wellness, and our mental health, we gather with a group of friends every week, so we attend church, we think that’s really important to surround yourselves with people who can worship together, and so that’s something that I know has been really important for us, and having a small group of friends, too, to walk with us, and encourage us, and to also ask us what those struggles are, and for us to be self aware, to be honest with them, has also been really important for us.

Dr. Connie: And I think this holistic approach to life has been such an advancement in society, and kind of a newer change, relatively, in the history of time, but how do you see this all evolving into the future, and I’m going to ask you to put your futurist hat on, you’re on the cutting edge of your work, and you are an influencer in this space, so how do you see the evolution, what do you see as the future of your area of nutrition, holistic living, all of these types of things put together?

Amber Pankonin: Well, as you know, I think the stigma of mental health is, it’s changing, and that’s encouraging, to see that perspective. I also think in terms of nutrition we’re going to see that trend of what we call nutrigenomics, so it’s very individualized nutrition care, and I think that that’s going to be the future of wellness, because right now, as you know, a lot of our recommendations are based on groups of populations, very general nutrition recommendations, which are good, I think in general USDA, the MyPlate Plan, is actually a very good, healthy, balanced plate, but the role of the registered dietician I think will be to get in there and see how do we really balance that plate for that one individual, and again applying nutrition science, nutrigenomics, into developing that specialized plan for people.

Dr. Connie: Do you see some technologies now that are starting to move things in that direction?

Amber Pankonin: Oh, absolutely, I mean I think even when you see the genetic testing going on where you can find what your background information is, and all of that,  we’re definitely seeing some of that started, and we also see people who are doing a lot of studies right now, in nutrigenomics, that is a really hot thing in nutrition. Also in addition to looking at the microbiome, we’re seeing a lot of really interesting studies looking at the microbiome and how it really impacts health and future health.

Dr. Connie: And just to learn more about this, this is where I think as a futurist I just become a sponge, and it’s so awesome to learn from people like yourself that are on the cutting edge of these technologies, because as we think about the future, and a lot of this is already here, we’re seeing this exponential growth in these spaces, but at the Rural Futures Institute we’ve also been really trying to help people understand how can this help better the future of rural places? How can advancements in science and technology really create a system that people can live, and thrive, in those rural areas. What are your thoughts around that?

Amber Pankonin: Right, well, it’s about access to communication, and access to people who can help them. I look at even the field of dietetics, and how far we’ve come in the last five years, because we didn’t used to have these platforms where you could connect to somebody virtually and be able to talk to a dietician and have that safely monitored, but now we do, and so I think it’s going to be really interesting to see even how that evolves in terms of connecting to an RD who can specifically help you with that issue that you’re dealing with, not just a general nutrition issue.

Dr. Connie: I do quite a bit of work with the healthcare sector in terms of what does the future look like, and recently published a paper on the future of rural healthcare, and one of the things that I think could be integrated more into some of that is exactly what you do, that health does equal life in so many ways, so if we don’t have our health we’re not able to do much. If you don’t feel well, you’re not as productive, you’re not enjoying life, you’re not out there, but I think in many ways the medical profession is still a little bit of, what’s the diagnosis? Here’s the medication, versus thinking about, could we personalize your diet? Could we look into this? Could we use some technology to do that? So you don’t have to have a hospital exactly where you live, maybe there’s some in home pieces to that.

Amber Pankonin: Right, well it’s about treatment versus prevention, and dieticians are positioned to really help with that prevention piece, which is why I do what I do, and why I communicate what I do, I think that’s super important.

(music transition)

Amber Pankonin: Obviously I believe nutrition is really important, but I really cannot stand it when I see those messages of, “this is going to cure this disease”, we can’t say that. Not everyone is the same, or has that same background, knowledge, and information, and so I think we have to be very, very careful about those messages. Pointing back to that phrase food is medicine, of course, I think food is so important, it can be nourishment, it can definitely help with prevention, but food does not replace medicine. So if you have high blood pressure, if you have diabetes, please keep taking your medication. Food can be a tool that can be used to help you manage those disease states, but we also need science, and technology, I think, to help us assist with that.

Dr. Connie: No, I think that’s a great way to word that, and I think that coming together with all that is great advice for listeners.

(music transition)

Dr. Connie: So what top three tips would you have for those people listening there, in terms of being a leader, an entrepreneur, a maverick in your space?

Amber Pankonin: I would say don’t isolate yourself. I think it can be so easy to do what you do and not pay attention to the world around you, and not think that it’s important to build those relationships, and what I’ve seen, especially with the farmers and the producers that I’ve worked with is when they jumped on a social media platform, or they started reaching out to other producers, they found community, and especially when they built community with scientists, and dieticians, who could help them.

Dr. Connie: Oh, nice.

Amber Pankonin: And so, that would be my first tip is just don’t isolate yourself, reach out, get help if you need it.

Dr. Conine: Yeah, I love that, because I also know, just from talking to you previously, this transdisciplinary approach you take, and I know that sounds like, one of those big academic words, but bringing all these different areas together, to figure this out in a little more robust but scientific way. You’ve talked about the importance of soil health in nutrition, you’ve talked about the importance of social media in nutrition, and communication, and understanding, and I think there’s just a lot of lessons we can all learn from that.

Amber Pankonin: Absolutely, and I would say too, I think you should value your knowledge. Often I talk to farmers and producers who don’t think that they have any value, or anything to add to the conversation, don’t hold that information hostage, share it with others, and know that you can always add value to the conversation.

And what words of wisdom would you share for people who are in a business, or maybe thinking about starting one?

Amber Pankonin: Definitely take some time to come up with a game plan, research a little bit, try to validate your idea, I think that’s really important. So often we think, oh, I’m just going to do this because people have to need this, of course they need this. Well, ask that question, go find a group of people that you can test that with, so if it’s a product or service, make sure you have a group of folks who are willing to pay for that product or service, and ask them how much would you pay for this product or service? So validate the idea and then take the leap.

Dr. Connie: Excellent, thank you so much for being on the Rural Futures podcast, we enjoyed this conversation and take that to heart listeners, Amber has a lot to share.

Read More

October 17, 2018

October 19, 2018
“Rural means everything to me.” — Tyan Boyer⠀ 💥 Bold Voices 💥 The University of Nebraska student segment of our podcast features University of Nebraska at Kearney exercise science major Tyan Boyer in this week’s Episode 13 at 20:35 🎙️⠀ …

Episode 13

“Rural means everything to me.” — Tyan Boyer⠀

💥 Bold Voices 💥 The University of Nebraska student segment of our podcast features University of Nebraska at Kearney exercise science major Tyan Boyer in this week’s Episode 13 at 20:35 🎙️⠀

Not only is Tyan a great podcast guest, he’s a dedicated #rural #leader, working and serving in McCook, Neb., summers 2017 and 2018.

Serviceship 2018 »

Serviceship 2017 »

Serviceship Program Details »

Read More

Nebraska SourceLink

September 10, 2018
[graphic] The University of Nebraska is creating and testing a statewide online resource platform for entrepreneurs to help communities support business starts and growth.   With Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Business Development Center, the Rural Futures Institute (RFI) is …

[graphic]

The University of Nebraska is creating and testing a statewide online resource platform for entrepreneurs to help communities support business starts and growth.

 

With Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Business Development Center, the Rural Futures Institute (RFI) is developing an online platform with U.S. SourceLink to create a one-stop, statewide entrepreneurial resources directory for use by business owners. Similar to NetWork Kansas, the platform will increase efficiency and allow for broader statewide strategies to develop entrepreneurial communities and economic impact.

“Most entrepreneurs and business owners are so busy running their business that they are generally unaware of the many resources available,” said Shawn Kaskie, RFI Outreach Project Coordinator. “This system will streamline awareness and access to these resources and spend more time growing their business and Nebraska’s economy.”

Based on preliminary [research? conversations with communities and business owners?] during the past two years, the project team [link to contributors] has determined a tangible strategy is needed to create, implement and sustain a statewide system that allows for ready and easy access to business development resources.

[Is there a number of already available resources that has been identified to help provide context and substantiation as to why something like this would be useful to entrepreneurs?]

[Could I quote a business owner in Nebraska who is already excited about this? Or one from Kansas that the team knows about who could provide some substantiation to this efforts’ importance to the target audience?]

Funding for the development of a prototype U.S. SourceLink system has been provided by [?]. The prototype will initially focus on harnessing the University of Nebraska’s significant resources for entrepreneurs [is there a number to quantify this? Would be great for NU to have this!]. Once fine-tuned, partners from across the state will be welcomed [and incentivized? Why should they want to join? Let’s start getting them excited!] to create a sustained statewide infrastructure.

“The timing of this work is critically important, and we have found a great demand for a statewide infrastructure that will organize and free-up under-resourced, unsustainable and duplicative platforms,” Kaskie said.

[Call to action — is there something the team would like RFI to help recruit participants for at this point? Is there a place readers can go for more information? How can RFI help from a comm perspective?]

 

Timeline

Break down of estimated project milestone dates (months are fine). Doesn’t have to be a crazy detailed list, but what would be of interest to a local business owner who is excited about this and/or internal NU administration to demonstrate movement/progress.

 

Contributors

  • Don Macke, title
  • Connie Hancock, title
  • Cathy Lange, title
  • Traci Williams, title
  • Shawn Kaskie, RFI Outreach Program Coordinator; University of Nebraska at Kearney Center for Entrepreneurship and Rural Development
  • Five private sector leaders
  • Representatives from Nebraska Development of Education
  • Regional Community College system
  • Nebraska Department of Economic Development

The Rural Futures Institute has contributed to this project by investing 40 percent of Shawn Kaskie’s time. Kaski’s knowledge, experience and connections throughout the state are a tremendous asset to the project’s success.

Read More

Episode 5: Dr. Tyler Ideus intersects physical medicine, agriculture, global impact

July 3, 2018
              Small-town raised and part-time farmer, Dr. Tyler Ideus is a specialist in physical medicine practicing in Lincoln, Neb., and traveling internationally as a lead instructor for Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization, a leading rehabilitation approach. Dr. Connie’s interest …

 

 

     

 

 

Small-town raised and part-time farmer, Dr. Tyler Ideus is a specialist in physical medicine practicing in Lincoln, Neb., and traveling internationally as a lead instructor for Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization, a leading rehabilitation approach. Dr. Connie’s interest was sparked by Dr. Ideus’ background in conventional agriculture and his global perspective of healthcare combined with his expertise in a variety of manual therapies, ranging from physical therapy, rehabilitation, functional medicine, soft tissue, dry needling and manipulation. A “maverick” working and teaching in urban settings but living and farming in a rural area makes him the “perfect” guest, Dr. Connie said. In this episode Dr. Ideus shares his vision for connecting agriculture, nutrition and healthcare and his passion for a thriving rural future through a mindset of abundance.

“At the end of the day, sick people are just expensive, and it has to get paid for one way or another. So if we can do things in agriculture and growing food that is going to be really healthy for people, I think we’re all going to come out ahead.”
Tyler Ideus
Physical Medicine Specialist and Nebraska Farmer

About Tyler

     

Dr. Tyler Ideus practices physical medicine in Lincoln, Neb. He earned his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Nebraska Wesleyan University and his doctorate from Logan Chiropractic College in St. Louis, Mo. His study has gone far beyond chiropractic medicine to include neurology, physical therapy, orthopedics and strength and conditioning. He became an international lead instructor of Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization in 2016.

Dr. Ideus grew up in Filley, Neb., a town of 200 that is now more around 100 in population. He currently farms part-time with his father outside of Filley, raising corn and beans using conventional farming practices.

 

Show Notes

Welcome to another episode of the Rural Futures podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Connie Reimers-Hild and with me today is Dr. Tyler Ideus, he’s an international expert that connects farming, food and health in very unique ways and so we’re very excited to dig into the fact that he’s choosing to build this life in rural Nebraska, but really teaching globally and being invited to do so. So Dr. Ideus, welcome to the show.

Thank you very much.

Absolutely, now tell us a little bit more. I know I have a lot here in this introduction. You know, you teach globally, you’re teaching a lot of postgraduate and postdoctoral work to people in health but in a very unique way, can you explain a little bit what that means?

With the continuing education or the postgraduate, postdoctoral work, what we’re doing is we’re working with some kind of new cutting edge ideas that just haven’t been exposed across the world yet at this point, specifically for me it’s brought me to places all over the United States and in Canada, into Europe, China, I’ll be going to Taiwan later this year so it’s been a neat experience, it’s been neat to listen to different people and their experiences, both in clinical practice but also from kind of just a healthcare standpoint as well and the different systems that people work in as well.

Now tell us exactly what you’re teaching, tell us, and why do you think it’s grown in this popularity, this is a program on the future and you’re kind of on the cutting edge of this emergence.

So this is a rehabilitation approach for people with different types of musculoskeletal disorders and diseases, so we might be working with things from low back pain to headaches, knee pain, hip pain but then in addition to that it’s very popular in strength and conditioning and performance, from all levels to youth to, you know, collegiate and professional athletes, people that are working with those types of clients, finding this information really, really valuable.

And I know you’re a doctor of chiropractic medicine, correct, but you’ve really expanded beyond that to really connect not just the chiropractic but really those health outcomes and connecting that back to food and health.

I do have a background in chiropractic, but the way that I practice that is very, very different, probably, than what most people think of. I consider it more of being a specialist in physical medicine and if we look at the definition of physical medicine, it’s the treatment of different types of diseases, musculoskeletal issues, through rehabilitation, nutrition, manipulation without the use of drugs or surgery so then when we kind of look into agriculture, the nutritional parts of things, there are points where what we eat, what we grow has a huge effect on our health as well.

Okay, so I think we need to dive into that because you’re originally from Filly, Nebraska, and that is Filly with an F. (laughs) Yes. Right, so we want to get the right size Filly and how big is Filly Nebraska?

So Filly, at this point, I would guess is about 100 and then it’s just kind of, you know, it’s as we’re seeing common in rural, the population is declining and so I think we’re probably down to around 100 people at this point, yeah, yep.

So we’ve seen the decline, but you’ve chosen to really take your expertise but also continue to farm and link this food and positive health outcome piece together which is very rare and unique. A lot of people talk about it, you’re doing it, so tell us a little bit about your farming background as well.

Right, right, so growing up on a farm, I always tell people, you know, when you grew up outside of Filly there was about three things that you did, you farmed, you worked hard and played basketball, those were the big things. It wasn’t as much football because we were all harvesting, you know, during the fall.

Sure, that makes sense.

But when that was done, then we played basketball, so the values and stuff that you can learn from the farm, the hard work as well as sports and the competition and getting out of your comfort zone has really taught me a lot and I use those all the time in how I approach clinical practice and education and farming as well.

Well, I love how you’ve really chosen to create your own future by taking that background of the sort of love and passion of sports and being active with agriculture and medicine and really combine that to create yourself as an international expert and really a cutting edge leader in terms of how we can forge a different future in health. So Dr. Ideus, I’d like to dive into a little bit about your philosophy as a leader, because obviously you’re forging a new path, you’re taking that future and you’re creating it one day, one class, one idea at a time and that takes a lot of guts and courage to do in our society, so tell us a little bit about your leadership philosophy.

I guess several kind of things that I think about, one of the big ones is always to get used to getting out of your comfort zone, right, and so I think that if we’re just kind of always comfortable and, you know, doing the same thing and not getting out of our comfort zone, it’s hard to really be a leader, you know, it’s hard to do new things, it’s hard to really, truly make change. Eventually you just have to be comfortable with getting out of your comfort zone, in addition to that, you have to be willing to put in the work, right, to make things make sense and have them be successful and so I was recently watching an interview with Kobe Bryant and he was kind of just talking about how there’s kind of a standard in the NBA on, okay, players might go in and work out a little bit and then they rest or go to practice and then that’s kind of their routine and so then he kind of thought about, well, how can I do more? So he thought then he would get up earlier, he would do workout, shoot, whatever, rest, and then kind of do the normal routine and so he said, then, that was an extra couple hours a day and he said in one day, it’s not a huge difference, in one week it’s not a huge difference, even in one year it’s not a huge difference, but then if you do that year after year, then you’re really starting to kind of create a gap, you know, and then you’ve put in the time and the hard work and then you can kind of have I think a clear vision for what it is that you’re trying to do and you can be really comfortable with these new things and ideas that you’re trying to kind of get across.

You know, and these are the exact type of guests we like to get on the show, mavericks like yourself with that grit, and you brought up that word vision and you also brought up the hard work and doing what it takes so I’d like to segment now back into that vision that you have around blending health and food and physical activity together.

You know, obviously as somebody’s that’s still involved in farming and somebody that uses conventional farming practices, and then also somebody who works in a clinical setting, and I love research and I read all the time and read research and then firsthand having these experience with patients, there’s some real questions that come about and that we have to ask ourselves and so for example, I have a patient recently that I was seeing for just kind of this generalized neck, shoulder area pain and tension and she had received some really great care from different types of medications to injections to physical therapy to chiropractic in the different types of modalities and things that exist within without a lot of success and so as we kind of dug into her history and figuring out why the heck this is going on, one thing we eventually found out was her large consumption of soy products because she ate a vegan diet and so she was getting her protein through that source so as we know and as we’ve seen through a lot of research, that can be a food that people are really sensitive to these days, right? Well, you hear on one end, it’s a major health benefit but on the other end, you’re saying it can also be something else depending on the person. Right, so then in her case, we removed that from her diet and that was enough to clear up her symptoms. So again, we just have to ask that question if why would that be, you know?

And to me that’s really powerful because I think oftentimes, you know, healthcare itself is estimated to be a three trillion dollar industry, many groups trying to disrupt it at this point and time and take a different approach, some people are even saying, you know, it’s really focused on sick care rather than healthcare, and just that story, a very powerful story that you told, you’re trying to go back and say, okay, we can use all these different modalities and they all have a place, but we also have to go back and find the story, the real story and find out what’s going on, what’s really maybe causing the challenges so we can get to resolution, not just a short term fix.

That’s exactly right, when we’re talking about the resolution, I think it’s very important for multiple reasons, number one is obviously it’s good for the person but then at the end of the day, it can ease some of the burdens of the cost on the healthcare system, and again, some of the interesting experiences I’ve had being in different countries and talking to different people in these different healthcare systems, the one thing that I’ve found is no matter where I’m at, it’s expensive, so for example, here we have private insurance, you know, high deductibles, high premiums and so on, so it’s expensive, in the Czech Republic, for example, whose government healthcare system, one scenario is maybe you go into the hospital for a traumatic brain injury and you’re kind of allowed a certain amount of time in rehabilitation and then when that time is up, then–

That’s it?

Your time is up, so at that point you have one of two options, number one, you’re done with care, right, or then you go to a private place and pay out of pocket, so then in those scenarios they’re paying very, very high taxes and then at the end of the day they’re gonna be paying out of pocket as well, so again, at the end of the day, it’s just sick people are expensive and it has to get paid for one way or another, and so if we can do things in an agriculture and growing food and growing food that’s gonna be really healthy for people to prevent certain things, I think we’re all gonna come out ahead and I think at that point, when just the overall population is a lot healthier in the scenarios where people do need help or there is some sort of trauma, there’s just gonna be such an abundant amount of available money and funds that it’s not such a burden for us to then help those people out.

So you can really see this from a place of abundance as well, it doesn’t have to be sort of this scarcity model where there’s not enough.

Right.

Rather, in the future we could actually forge a path that if we had health on the front end, there would be care for those ’cause people are still gonna need it, right? There’s no one perfect system, but we could evolve the model if we chose to. How do you see the future of food and health coming together?

Yeah, I’m not trying to say that we stop conventional practices and the research and the technology and everything that we have accomplished, being in a country like China and I was in Beijing and then we took a really neat train ride kind of through the countryside to another city called Nanjing and you could just see the abundance of people, you know, just so, so, so, many people and all these apartment buildings that are just skyscrapers so you just saw the mass number of people. There still has to be some type of, I think, more mass production of things, so we need that, we can’t get away from that, but at the same time I think that it’s okay that if we look into additional farming practices and being aware of ways to start expanding growing things organically and I think that also then can potentially help with rural growth and even create more opportunities within rural communities, just because those types of practices require a little more hands-on work, hands-on labor. We’re not just gonna be able to drive by with a big tractor sprayer and just cover these mass amounts of acres so it would return a part of farming to a little bit more of a hands-on practice which I think would be good as well. I always say that they’re talking about putting up these hydroponic plants on the ocean, you know, and these types of things. Vertical farming, we have a lot of cool stuff happening. To grow, you know, these foods and stuff and I just think, my gosh, we have some of the best people in the world that understand how to grow things and we have some of the best climates and the soils in the world right here to do that and so I just think there’s a huge opportunity for us to be leaders in that area as well.

I agree, I love reading about how, you know, they’re bringing sensors and AI and drones and robotics all into agriculture to make it more sustainable and it’d be great to bring some of that more thoughtfully and intentionally here to Nebraska to explore exactly what you’re saying.

Yeah, absolutely.

(Music Transition)

When I read things, and if they’re somewhat controversial, then I’ll read both sides. I have a stack of books at home that’s all about low carbohydrate living, so no breads, no grains, those type of things, but then at the same time, I also have books that the title, one of them is literally called “Eat Wheat,” but even in that book what it talks about is that the wheat that we used to eat 30 years ago, the way that the bread was made without preservatives and processed and all those types of things is way way way different than what we’re eating today so these highly refined grains and processed that have potentially been sprayed to kill to get in to harvest early, that’s why I think we’re seeing, like, this huge number of more urban populations having problems with our conventional farming needs.

This is what’s a little tricky because it all gets a little confusing, right? So there’s a lot of information out there and it’s good to read both sides and gather all that information. I’d love to learn a little bit more about some of the health outcomes that you’ve achieved by reading and digging into both sides and how you’re getting to health outcomes, positive health outcomes through that sort of questioning process.

Right, there is a good experience that I had with a patient not too long ago. There was a young man, I think he was 22 years old, I believe, and so then he had kind of been in and out of the hospital with C diff, which is just a bacterial regrowth in the stomach and small intestine that just leads to some really serious health issues, obviously. Then he was given the diagnosis of ulcerative colitis and told that he would just need these infusions once a month for the rest of his life. They would have to do kind of continued blood testing since this is an immunosuppressive drug, there’s kind of a lot of complications and side effects that could come from that, him and his parents were both very, very concerned about him going down that road and they wanted–

It’s a lifetime sentence.

Yeah, right, and they wanted to look if there’s anything else they could do, any other options and at that point we just ordered some blood tests that looked at basically different types of food sensitivities or allergies and when we got those results back we did see that he was significantly sensitive to dairy products, basically and different grains, so like gluten and glietens, which are different proteins within a certain type of grain and we completely took those out of his diet, we came up with a plan for him and then over a period of a few months, his symptoms were gone and he’s still symptom free over a year later and not that every single case of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s or anything like that can just be, you know, miraculously cleared by a few dietary changes, but like I told him in the very beginning, even if you do still need some type of medication, maybe it’s a little bit less and I don’t think that anybody is gonna be worse off by cutting, like, sugar out of their diet as he was dealing with it or if somebody else is dealing with that, just kind of their overall health can be so much better, you know, but like in his case then as well, if we think about the cost, that would have been accrued over a lifetime of needing those medications and those infusions, would have been astronomical compared to what it is now.

And I think even his overall well being, thinking about the cost but also his quality of life in terms of just freeing up time to have that energy to go do what you really want to do.

Yep.

It’s fantastic.

(Music Transition)

Okay, so you’re a busy guy, I mean, we know this so you’re farming, you have a full practice, you’re traveling internationally and really helping advance this whole connection between food, health, but also activity in this vital lifestyle. Tell us a little bit about what brings joy into your life around that, but also why you do everything that you’re doing, because it’s a lot.

With the farming aspect of things, that’s just something that, you know, I thoroughly enjoy, so I’ve made the comment before where some people go play a round of golf on the weekend, you know, or whatever it might be and I always say, there’s nothing in the world that beats sitting in the combine on a nice fall morning with a cup of coffee and my family that takes turns riding with me, so that’s just a lot of fun.

I gotta go there, because I know that you’re married and you have two little people in your life, right, so do they get on the tractor with you?

Oh yeah, we’ve had many rounds in the combine with four people in the cab, so two kids moving around and trying to, yeah, keep them somewhat still but it’s all worth it, that’s what makes it fun.

Yeah, and I appreciate that you’re really bringing that next generation of leaders along, getting this very hands-on experience out on a farm, that’s so cool.

So then in addition to that, the postgraduate and doctoral continuing education, that just kind of came about organically, I guess, and again, just kind of my passion for learning and curiosity, when I was exposed to this program, you know, I was just very, very intrigued and fascinated by it so continued to just learn and research and dig and then over a period of time then was asked if I would be willing to be a part of the group that is teaching to expand this just because the demand is so, so, so high for this program. I’ve always been a curious person and I think in clinical practice, one of the things I enjoy the most is the examination process. I spend a ton of time always on the first exam and I always say there’s literally no information that’s not important. And we do all kinds of different movements and history and again, diet and activity and all those types of things, then to finally end up at the answer of why you’re feeling the way you are, what’s going on, and so that’s an enjoyable process as well.

Well, I love this whole idea of you just like to explore and you like to get to the why and you are such a learner and take that deep dive in, both in your practice, your teaching, but also, you know, your farming and thinking about this whole evolution of agriculture, of food and health together, which is amazing, so what parting words of wisdom would you leave our audience with?

I think there’s a few things that always stick out to me, number one, one of my mentors told me early on when I was in school and he was talking specifically to clinical practice, but I think we can take that outside of that world, but he said, every single patient and every single visit with every patient deserves a 10 out of 10 with your effort and that doesn’t matter if it’s a professional athlete or if it’s Grandma, for example, you know, every patient, every visit deserves a 10 out of 10 and so I kind of take that too in the way that I farm and when I’m planting, for example, I’m gonna give out a 10 out of 10 effort. With the teaching aspect of things, if I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna give a 10 out of 10 effort for that, so I think that’s something that’s really important. I know I mentioned a little bit of being willing to get out of your comfort zone.

Absolutely.

I think is really really important. I think that we need to embrace competition and not be afraid of competition, not be afraid to compete and to truly compete, you really have to know what you’re talking about, you really have to know what you’re doing.

Putting in those extra hours.

Right, right, and then, yeah, exactly. That work, that grit. The hard work, right, you know, and just being willing to put in the couple extra hours that others aren’t and then again over a long period of time, those extra hours just add up and add up and add up.

Well, I know at the Rural Futures Institute, we appreciate the fact that you’ve designed a life where you’re choosing to live rural and you’re continuing to farm but you’re also expanding and you’re an expert internationally living locally and so you’re really making this life work, so thank you for all you’re doing to serve Nebraska but also get Nebraska out there, you know, and the great work that’s going on, both on your farm but in your practice and really helping people around the world.

I always say, just because you’re from a small town in the middle of Nebraska doesn’t mean that you still can’t have a global impact. And again, with kind of that hard work that you’ve learned and you’ve put in and you’ve seen your parents do and their parents, it’s just very valuable for your business life.

Well, I’m really excited to see what the next generation of young farmers on your farm accomplishes with all that you’re teaching them as well. So thank you so much for being here.

Thank you.

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May 25, 2018

May 25, 2018
Starting this week, 11 communities throughout Nebraska welcomed 24 students from University of Nebraska at Kearney, University of Nebraska at Omaha, University of Nebraska–Lincoln and Peru State College to work on strategic, future-focused projects, serve and live through the RFI Student …

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

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

Release »

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May 24, 2018

May 24, 2018
Rural community leaders from across Nebraska are working with University faculty, students and Nebraska Extension educators to define rural prosperity and create strategies for rural communities across the country to reach their goals. Funded by the Rural Futures Institute in 2016, the …

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

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

More information about this project »

All 50 RFI-funded research and teaching projects »

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NEWS RELEASE: Fellows Elected to Great Plains Board of Governors

May 8, 2018
LINCOLN, Neb. — May 8, 2018 — Two fellows from the Rural Futures Institute (RFI) at the University of Nebraska have been elected as members of the Board of Governors for The Center for Great Plains Studies. The fellows, who will serve …

LINCOLN, Neb. — May 8, 2018 — Two fellows from the Rural Futures Institute (RFI) at the University of Nebraska have been elected as members of the Board of Governors for The Center for Great Plains Studies.

The fellows, who will serve three-year terms beginning Sept. 2018, include:

Bree Dority, Ph.D.

Associate Dean, College of Business
University of Nebraska at Kearney

 


Kim Wilson

Professor, Landscape Architecture
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

The Board of Governors provides advice to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Director of the Center for the operation, program priorities, and budgetary matters of the Center for Great Plains Studies. The Board represents all four University of Nebraska campuses, covers a wide range of academic disciplines, and has four standing committees: Academic, Administrative, Nominating and Museum and Outreach.

Dority and Wilson will be joining RFI Faculty Fellow Jessica Shoemaker, J.D., who has been on the Board of Governors since 2016.

###

 

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Building a Theory of Positive Youth Leadership Identity

February 20, 2018
Introduction The United States is poised to experience one of the largest transfers of leadership in its history, as evidenced by employed individuals aged 45 and over holding approximately 56 percent of all management occupations (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, …

Lindsay J. Hastings, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor and Director of
Nebraska Human Resources Institute
University of Nebraska – Lincoln
lhastings2@unl.edu

L.J. McElravy, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
University of Nebraska – Lincoln
lj.mcelravy@unl.edu

Introduction

The United States is poised to experience one of the largest transfers of leadership in its history, as evidenced by employed individuals aged 45 and over holding approximately 56 percent of all management occupations (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012). Reichard and Paik (2011) argue that waiting to adulthood to develop leadership is too late because children and youth are more malleable, and can demonstrate a greater impact from intentional development. The capacity of youth to experience leadership development as well as the necessity of that development provides meaning to the current paper.

Murphy (2011) outlines the current research on youth leadership and finds it wanting. She explains that the methodical study of leadership is found almost exclusively in adults; warning that not addressing leadership in children and youth leaves a lack of understanding as to the processes of human development that would help shape a model for leadership growth across a lifetime. Murphy suggests that the field of youth leadership development could be improved by the development of “appropriate leadership success indicators” and use of evaluation methods that are effectual (p. 33).

The purpose of this conceptual paper is to build a theory of positive youth leadership identity. We conceptualize positive youth leadership identity as an explicit theory of oneself as a positive leader, providing further conceptualization and potential for future assessment around
self-management in Murphy’s (2011) preliminary youth leadership model. Murphy and Johnson (2011) suggest that the two most frequently cited results of leadership development are leadership identity along with self-regulation (e.g., Gardner, Avolio, Luthans, May, & Walumbwa, 2005), which are strongly associated with leadership effectiveness (Avolio & Hannah, 2008). Lord, Hall, and Halpin (2011) articulate the role of identity in leadership, arguing that identities are developed over a lifetime and reveal connections from adult leadership to childhood experiences. The current paper seeks to conceptualize positive leadership identity in youth in preparation for building an effectual measure.

“We define positive youth leadership as the dynamic relational influence process that promotes positive attitudes and/or behaviors in others and/or collective group action.”

 

Building upon previous definitions of youth leadership (e.g., MacNeil, 2006; Wang & Wang, 2009), we define positive youth leadership as the dynamic relational influence process that promotes positive attitudes and/or behaviors in others and/or collective group action. Based upon preliminary research studies (McElravy & Hastings, 2014a, 2014b, 2016) and an extensive review of the literature, we propose a higher order construct of positive youth leadership identity. The results of the preliminary studies are outlined below followed by a literature review that lead to the development of four proposed factors.

 

Results of Preliminary Studies

McElravy and Hastings’s (2014a, 2014b, 2016) studies examined the relationship between personality, trait-based emotional intelligence, cognitive and affective empathy, psychological capital (PsyCap), and self-perceived leadership skills in youth. The first McElravy and Hastings’s (2014a) study examined personality, trait-based emotional intelligence, and self-perceived leadership skills among (N=115) youth. While the regression model including all variables (age, gender, race/ethnicity, SES, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, openness, and emotional intelligence) explained 35.3% (Adjusted R2; F=5.77, p<0.01) of the variance in self-perceived leadership skills, age and emotional intelligence were the only significant predictors. Furthermore, emotional intelligence explained over four times the amount of variance in self-perceived leadership skills than age.

The second McElravy and Hastings’s (2014b) study examined the relationship between psychological capital, cognitive and affective empathy, and self-perceived leadership skills among (N=46) youth. After entering cognitive and affective empathy and PsyCap (implicit measure) into a stepwise regression analysis, while including gender, race/ethnicity, and socio-economic status in the model as controls, cognitive and affective empathy emerged as significant predictors of self-perceived leadership skills. The final stepwise regression model including the control variables and cognitive and affective empathy accounted for 31.5% (Adjusted R2; F=4.397, p<0.01) of the variance in self-perceived leadership skills.

In McElravy and Hastings’s (2016) study, a stepwise regression analysis was conducted to test the predictive value of personality, empathy, and psychological capital (both implicit and academic measures) on self-perceived leadership skills among (N=34) youth. After entering personality, empathy, implicit PsyCap, and academic PsyCap into the regression model, while controlling for SES and race and ethnicity, academic PsyCap emerged as the most significant predictor of self-perceived leadership skills. The final stepwise regression model including race and ethnicity, SES, and academic PsyCap accounted for 55.1% (Adjusted R2; F=12.492, p<0.001) of the variance in self-perceived leadership skills among the youth surveyed. However, academic PsyCap was the only significant predictor (β = .652; t = 4.77; p < .001).

“We propose that the higher order construct of positive youth leadership identity is comprised of four factors, namely motivation to lead, positive task affect in groups, social influence capital, and human relations capital.”

 

The results of all three combined studies suggest that youth who (a) understand and share in others’ emotions (cognitive and affective empathy—Joliffe & Farrington, 2006), (b) demonstrate an innate ability to successfully marshal their emotions and the emotions of others
(trait-based emotional intelligence—Van Rooy & Viswesvaran, 2004), and (c) generate the developmental state of high efficacy, hope, resiliency, and optimism (PsyCap—Luthans, Youssef, & Avolio, 2007) tend to rate themselves as having high leadership skills. These combined results serve as helpful preliminary data in the pursuit of conceptualizing and measuring youth leadership. Constructs related to empathy, emotional intelligence, and psychological capital provide initial theoretical grounding for the broader positive youth leadership identity construct. Based upon these preliminary research findings and an extensive review of the literature, we propose that the higher order construct of positive youth leadership identity is comprised of four factors, namely motivation to lead, positive task affect in groups, social influence capital, and human relations capital. Each factor is outlined in the following sections.

 

Motivation to Lead

Drawing from Chan and Drasgow’s (2001) definition of motivation to lead (MTL) as an individual’s decision to engage in leadership responsibilities, we define motivation to lead in the context of positive youth leadership identity as the willingness to engage in leadership positions and training and development. We include ‘training and development’ in a youth leadership context because youth likely have fewer opportunities than adults to pursue formal leadership positions. Thus, a young person may reasonably demonstrate motivation to lead through attending workshops, seminars, and programs designed to develop their leadership capacity.

Both Murphy (2011) and Avolio and Vogelgesang (2011) include motivation to lead in their youth leadership models. Murphy (2011) indicates that leadership roles will not likely be pursued without adequate desire or motivation. Avolio and Vogelgesang (2011) agree: “For individuals to gain leadership-rich experiences, they must be motivated to take on thoseexperiences in the first place” (p. 189). We propose that motivation to lead in the context of positive youth leadership identity includes leadership self-efficacy, the desire to develop into an effective leader, and leadership role occupancy.

Leadership self-efficacy—the belief that one has the capabilities and the psychological resources to meet leadership demands (Guillén, Mayo, & Korotov, 2015)—emerged as a significant predictor and developmental antecedent to motivation to lead (Chan & Drasgow, 2011). Murphy (2011) includes self-efficacy and motivation to lead in the self-management portion of her preliminary youth leadership model, and Avolio and Vogelgesang (2011) include leader self-efficacy and developmental readiness (where motivation to lead is situated) as influencing the development of leader self-concept.

The desire to develop into an effective leader pays tribute to the notion that youth may demonstrate motivation to lead through a motivation to develop their leadership capacity rather than pursue a formal leadership role. This desire may indicate a youth’s learning goal orientation (Dweck, 1986) applied toward leadership or a general desire for leadership learning. Including leadership role occupancy as part of motivation to lead, on the other hand, reflects a youth’s motivation to pursue formal leadership roles. Lord, Hall, and Halpin (2011) argues that leadership identities develop gradually as an individual steps into a new role, tries new experiences, and receives feedback.

 

Positive Task Affect in Groups

In the context of positive youth leadership identity, we define positive task affect in groups as a sense of positivity regarding accomplishing tasks with others and includes elements such as hopeful goal attainment, optimistic outlook of group work, collective orientation, and task orientation at a group level. The inclusion of positive task affect in groups reflects the results of McElravy and Hastings’s (2016) study where psychological capital (PsyCap) emerged as a significantly predictor of self-perceived leadership skills in youth.

While PsyCap has not been investigated much in youth, lower-order constructs such as hope and optimism have been either examined in youth populations or offered as important components to youth leadership. Results from Snyder et al.’s. (1997) study connected hope to positive outcomes in youth, indicating that children who demonstrated higher hope tended to connect themselves to positive outcomes, as opposed to attributing success to luck. Murphy (2011) echoed this sentiment in explaining why she includes optimistic style in her preliminary youth leadership model. Collective orientation stems from Mortensen, et al.’s (2014) qualitative study of National Youth Leadership Initiative participants which revealed collective action as one of the five key themes that described youth perception of what makes someone a leader.

Task orientation at the group level recognizes the critical importance of task orientation to task completion in groups. Huffmeier and Hertel (2011) provide evidence of the direct link between positive task affect and task accomplishments in groups.

 

Social Influence Capital

Social influence capital as a factor of positive youth leadership identity reflects the results of McElravy and Hastings’s (2014a) study that revealed trait-based emotional intelligence as a significant predictor of self-perceived leadership skills in youth. Additionally, Bukowski, Velasquez, and Brendgen (2008) describe peer influence as “essentially an idea about change. Its central claim is that a child’s behavior will change as a function of the child’s experiences with peers” (p. 126). With this description in mind, we offer social influence capital as the confidence one has in influencing others using social astuteness and suggest that social influence capital includes elements such as self-efficacy in social influence domain, self-perception of interpersonal influential capacity, and emotional intelligence (specifically social awareness and sociability).

Bandura (2006) references several meta-analytic studies (e.g., Holden, Moncher, Schinke, & Barker, 1990; Stajkovic, & Luthans, 1998) in arguing that perceived self-efficacy is influential in human self-development, adaption, and change. Evidence suggests that specific behaviors are better predicted by an individual’s domain-specific self-efficacy rather than general efficacy (Ashford, Edmunds, & French, 2010), thus including self-efficacy in social influence domain pays tribute to the influence of self-efficacy while recognizing that self-efficacy may manifest itself in multiple ways when contributing toward a positive youth leadership identity.

We included self-perception of interpersonal influential capacity to reflect that young people must accomplish projects and goals using influencing skills (Yip, Liu, & Nadel, 2006). The ability to influence others is associated with social status or rank as individuals with high-status are given social capital as they are placed in a position to influence their peers (Juvonen & Galván, 2008). Recchia (2011) qualitatively investigated early childhood leadership using observational data of identified preschool student leaders. Results indicated that preschool students described as leaders possess “a strong sense of self” and the ability “to hold on to that sense of self in interactions with others” (p. 45). Recchia points out that the identified preschool leaders possessed a highly developed understanding of the people and environment surrounding them and their place in it.

In further support of emotional intelligence’s place in youth leadership, Wang and Wang’s (2009) review of youth leadership development models indicated that interpersonal skills, notably emotional intelligence, are a critical part of team leadership. The results of Ward and Ellis’s (2008) study of (N = 180) Boy Scout participants revealed that one of the two highest predictors of positive followership ratings was a demonstrated willingness by the leader to provide social support. Ward, Lundberg, Ellis, and Berrett (2010) linked the concepts of relatedness and social support by arguing that as adolescents begin to pull away from their parents for emotional support, they look to peers to fill the void.

 

Human Relations Capital

With a belief that relationships are at the core of youth leadership, we define human relations capital as the confidence one has in developing authentic relationships using social skill. Again, since youth leaders will need to rely more on social skill than positional power, positive relationship-building may likely contribute to youth leadership success. Human relations capital as a factor of positive youth leadership identity reflects the results of McElravy and Hastings’s (2014b) study that revealed cognitive and affective empathy as significant predictors of self-perceived leadership skills in youth. To further conceptualize human relations capital, we propose that human relations capital is comprised of elements such as self-efficacy in relational domain, self-perception of relationship-building capacity, and empathy.

“We propose that human relations capital is comprised of elements such as self-efficacy in relational domain, self-perception of relationship-building capacity, and empathy.”

 

The results of Lerner et al.’s (2005) positive youth development (PYD) study offer several relevant reasons for including self-efficacy in relational domain, self-perception of relationship-building capacity, and empathy to describe human relations capital. Specifically, four out of the Five Cs for PYD include: (a) competence, the positive self-perception of one’s actions socially, (b) confidence, one’s overall self-efficacy and positive self-belief, (c) connection, positive and bidirectional relational and institutional bonds, and (d) caring and compassion, being sympathetic and empathetic.

Including self-efficacy in relational domain, again, acknowledges the influence of self-efficacy (Bandura, 2006) and reflects Lapieerrea, Naidoob, and Bonaccioa’s (2012) analysis of (N=137) relational dyads in assessing the impact of leaders’ relational self-concept, which revealed that leaders who demonstrate a more relational self-concept are more likely to provide mentoring to their followers. Relative to self-perception of relationship-building capacity, Mack et al. (2011), similar to Popper (2011), explain that a person’s early development of relationships is foundational for positive and healthy leadership in the future. Mack and colleagues (2011) concluded from their research on successful executives that “successful leaders tend to have securely anchored relationships in both personal and professional interactions and are better characterized as being more self-reliant and interdependent than independent” (p. 140).

Additionally, Rosenblum and Lewis’s (2008) argue that adolescents who demonstrate empathy are better able to expect and react to others’ emotional changes, appearances, and experiences. Kellett, Humphrey, and Sleeth (2006) assessed perceived emotional abilities related to leadership skills utilizing small group peer reports among (N=231) students. Results revealed that the emergence of relations leaders are linked to emotional abilities. Kellett et al. explain, “because perceptions of relations leadership require feelings of being understood and valued, it is important for a leader to accurately detect emotions and to experience and express empathy” (p. 157).

 

Conclusion

Recognizing the societal need for developing youth leaders given the impending sizeable leadership transfer and the critical importance of intentional early leadership development (Murphy, 2011; Reichard & Paik, 2011), this conceptual paper serves to answer Murphy’s (2011) call for the development of youth leadership research by building a theory (and ultimately, a measure) around positive youth leadership identity. Positive youth leadership identity—the explicit theory of oneself as a positive leader—and its four factors of motivation to lead, positive task affect in groups, social influence capital, and human relations capital provides further conceptualization around self-management in youth leaders and provides the necessary theoretical underpinnings for future psychometric assessment.

 

References

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Copyright © 2017 Lindsay J. Hastings & L.J. McElravy all rights reserved.

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Happy Holidays From RFI

December 21, 2017
  As demonstrated by our belief statements, “together with our partners” is not just a filler phrase we use in passing to describe the work we do. Rather, it is an essential, critical element that we all must employ to …
RFI Staff

Back from left: Dr. Connie Reimers-Hild, Shawn Kaskie, Theresa Klein, Katelyn Ideus, Kayla Schnuelle. Front from left: Chuck Schroeder, Lauren Simonsen, Aliese Hoffman, Kim Peterson


 

As demonstrated by our belief statements, “together with our partners” is not just a filler phrase we use in passing to describe the work we do. Rather, it is an essential, critical element that we all must employ to meet our mission of a thriving high-touch, high-tech rural future.

 

Thank you to our partners who we can call upon, share with and learn from.

 

 


 

Video Highlights of 2017

 

We launched RFI Fellows with 26 faculty and community innovation fellows from the University of Nebraska (NU), the state of Nebraska and beyond.

 

We connected “fierce” rural innovators from Japan with rural experts from NU and Nebraska to learn and share.

 

Here is an introduction to one of the nine projects we funded this year. There are 50 projects total, all benefiting rural communities in Nebraska and beyond.

 

We placed student interns in rural communities through 2017 RFI Student Serviceship, and we’re looking forward to 2018!

 


 

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NEWS RELEASE: RFI-Funded Research Project Receives International and National Attention

December 12, 2017
LINCOLN, Neb. — December 12, 2017 — Marketing Hometown America, a funded research project from the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska, is receiving national and international attention.  Led by RFI Faculty Fellow Cheryl Burkhart-Kriesel, the project is designed …

LINCOLN, Neb. — December 12, 2017 — Marketing Hometown America, a funded research project from the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska, is receiving national and international attention. 

Led by RFI Faculty Fellow Cheryl Burkhart-Kriesel, the project is designed to help rural communities market themselves to improve new resident recruitment as well as retention. After the program’s pilot across three Great Plains states, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska, the research group used Ripple Effects Mapping to evaluate both the intended and unintended community outcomes in each location.

Burkhart-Kriesel recently co-authored an article about the project in the second volume of the Minnesota Evaluation Studies Institute Program Evaluation Series titled “A Field Guide to Ripple Effects Mapping.” The article discusses the importance of evaluation when planning and implementing community development projects.

“Coming together as a community to evaluate the effort is a way to share the broader story and to see how all the pieces came together,” Burkhart-Kriesel said when discussing the importance of evaluation processes.

The research team from North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska were also invited to Sioux City, Iowa, this fall to share the Marketing Hometown America program with Extension faculty from Iowa State University. After the six-hour training session, two pilot communities in western Iowa were identified with the intent to offer the program statewide.

Burkhart-Kriesel also recently presented a paper at the North Atlantic Forum in Bø, Telemark in Norway. The North Atlantic Forum was originally formed as a way to bring rural coastal communities in the north Atlantic together to share issues, opportunities and resources. Presenters and participants came from Canada, the British Isles, Scandinavia, the countries surrounding the North Sea, Central Europe, Central America and Asia.

“It might appear that the North American Great Plains would have little in common with this region, but just the opposite is true. Issues such as rural migration and depopulation, identifying processes that help communities develop a vision and development plan, finding ways to build diverse economies and strengthening youth and young adult connections are themes in rural areas all over the world,” Burkhart-Kriesel said.

During her presentation titled “Rural New Resident Recruitment: A Critical First Step Toward Sustainability,” she focused on the importance of attracting new residents to rural communities despite a decline in North American Great Plains population. The theme of the forum focused on the many ways rural communities can help sustain and strengthen their natural resource base as a necessary strategy to better position themselves for the future.


Highlights from the presentation:

Almost two-thirds (roughly 600,000 people) of the counties in the North American Great Plains lost population between 1950 and 2007. In 69 Great Plains counties, more than 50 percent of their population was lost (U.S. Census Bureau).

There has been long-term decline in the North American Great Plains population, but research has shown that in some rural areas there is a growing interest in in-migration, especially from more urban areas.

The rural landscape and both natural and human resources can be taken for granted and overlooked as assets that can be marketed to potential new residents. These rural assets can be showcased using the community marketing process to enhance new resident recruitment.


Burkhart-Kriesel had also previously received international attention when she was invited to present the Marketing Hometown America curriculum at the 2015 International Association of Community Development (IACD) conference held in Glasgow, Scotland. After the conference, an urban neighborhood organizer in Glasgow was interested in adapting the Marketing Hometown America material as a way to recruit new residents.

“Listening to the various presentations from diverse places across the world, I am convinced that rural issues are more similar than different,” Burkhart-Kriesel said.

Burkhart-Kriesel is located at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Her position in western Nebraska gives her an important viewpoint on the opportunities and challenges that impact rural communities. Her research and extension programs focus on demographic renewal and economic opportunities in rural communities in Nebraska and beyond.

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Obesity Intervention and Service-Learning

December 5, 2017
Teaching & Engagement, 2017 Summary In an effort to combat the epidemic of rural pediatric obesity, Peru State College and the University of Nebraska at Omaha, in partnership with rural stakeholders, seek to develop a new service-learning course for undergraduates. …

Teaching & Engagement, 2017


Summary

In an effort to combat the epidemic of rural pediatric obesity, Peru State College and the University of Nebraska at Omaha, in partnership with rural stakeholders, seek to develop a new service-learning course for undergraduates. The course will introduce post-secondary students to service-learning and the prevalence of overweight and obesity in rural areas. It will also seek to engage existing and new partnerships with community-based organizations for students’ service-learning. Finally, contributors hope the course will instill in undergraduate students a sense of civic commitment that they will carry with them following college.

Impacts

A service learning course was offered for the first time during the spring semester of 2018. ServeNebraska and Americorp volunteers provided training to the 11 undergraduate students who enrolled in the course. The 11 undergraduates contributed over 1,000 volunteer hours throughout the course of the semester, serving three afterschool programs which engaged 428 elementary and middle school students. The programs involved both physical and educational activities. Through leading the afterschool programs, the undergraduate students achieved a greater understanding of community-based interventions and implementing change with regards to pediatric obesity.

Project Team

  • Danae Dinkel (PI), Assistant Professor, Health Physical Education & Recreation, University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • Kyle Ryan (Co-PI), Professor, Kinesiology, Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, Peru State College
  • Sheri Grotrian-Ryan (Co-PI), Professor, Business, Peru State College

Partners

  • Northside Elementary (Grades K-2), Nebraska City
  • Hayward Elementary (Grades 3-5), Nebraska City
  • Nebraska City Middle School (Grades 6-8), Nebraska City
  • Peru State College
  • ServeNebraska

 

Contact: Danae Dinkel, dmdinkel@unomaha.edu

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RFI PROJECT UPDATE: Rural Narratives on Welcoming Communities

December 4, 2017
 We are excited to share the latest about each of our 2017 RFI research and teaching projects throughout the next few weeks. First up, “Rural Narratives on Welcoming Communities,” which is led by RFI Faculty Fellow Athena Ramos of …


We are excited to share the latest about each of our 2017 RFI research and teaching projects throughout the next few weeks. First up, “Rural Narratives on Welcoming Communities,” which is led by RFI Faculty Fellow Athena Ramos of the UNMC College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center – UNMC.

Rural communities are changing demographically, physically and socially. Three major trends driving these new patterns include the in-migration of adults in their prime earning years returning to small towns and rural areas, the growth of the Latino population, which is the most rapidly growing population segment in rural America, and regionalization. Because of these trends, strengthening resiliency, flexibility and positivity in rural communities is essential.

Successful rural community development requires a healthy community ecosystem. In order for rural communities to maintain and build a healthy community ecosystem, it is important to effectively foster human and social capital among all community residents, which is what Ramos is working toward through this project.

UNMC students have been learning about community-based research and Appreciative Inquiry, which is based on principles of positive psychology, social constructionism, and resonance. Now, Ramos and students are co-developing and conducting key informant interviews with local community leaders to spark stories that highlight the best of what is in rural communities and help these community leaders plant seeds about what COULD BE when all residents and newcomers are fully welcomed and integrated into the fabric of their communities.

The insights gathered in this specific project will help Columbus, Neb., and Schuyler, Neb., better understand their assets and what positive messaging is needed to move their community initiatives forward.

Learn more about RFI’s funded research and teaching projects at http://ruralfutures.nebraska.edu/research.

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Aliese Hoffman

November 17, 2017
Administrative Specialist
Aliese Hoffman is from the rural town of Red Cloud, Neb., where she grew up and worked on her family’s cattle ranch. She was an active member of 4H and FFA. She comes from a family of entrepreneurs and has …

Aliese Hoffman is from the rural town of Red Cloud, Neb., where she grew up and worked on her family’s cattle ranch. She was an active member of 4H and FFA. She comes from a family of entrepreneurs and has a passion for rural life.

Aliese earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management. After graduation she worked in the hospitality industry where she gained skills in customer service, event planning, and management. She began working in the Center for Entrepreneurship and Rural Development at UNK in August of 2015 where she is involved in event coordination, outreach services, market research and supports the Enactus student organization. For the Rural Futures Institute, Aliese supports the RFI Fellows program.

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Chuck Schroeder

November 16, 2017
Founding Executive Director
Charles P. “Chuck” Schroeder is a native of southwestern Nebraska ranch country near the rural community of Palisade. Prior to beginning his new duties on December 1, 2013 as founding executive director of the Rural Futures Institute at the University …

Charles P. “Chuck” Schroeder is a native of southwestern Nebraska ranch country near the rural community of Palisade. Prior to beginning his new duties on December 1, 2013 as founding executive director of the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska, Schroeder served 12 years as president and executive director of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Prior to that, he held other leadership positions in the public, private and non-profit sectors, including serving as founding CEO of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, headquartered in Denver, Chicago and Washington, DC. Schroeder also served as executive vice president and director of development at the University of Nebraska Foundation and director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

Schroeder was involved with his family’s farming, ranching and cattle feeding enterprise, the Schroeder Cattle Company, for about 30 years, until its sale in 2004. Chuck is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in Animal Science.

Schroeder has served on many boards of business and civic organizations such as the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, Museums West, the Oklahoma State Fair, Sirloin Club of Oklahoma, and advisory boards for the Oklahoma Arts Institute and the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art. Previous volunteer leadership roles include terms as chairman of the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching, president of the Heartland Center for Leadership Development, chairman of the Beef Industry Food Safety Council, and founding board member of the Rural Policy Research Institute., as well as Agriculture Future of America. He has also served as a board member for the International Stockmen’s Education Foundation and Payne Education Center. Special recognitions include the Oklahoma Humanities Council Community Leadership Award, the National Cowboy Symposium Western Museum Award, the NU College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Alumnus Award, the Ak-Sar-Ben Agricultural Achievement Award, and inclusion in “Who’s Who in the Western Livestock Industry.” He was also selected for participation in the Gallup Premier Leadership Institute and Stanford University’s Executive Program for Non-Profit Leaders.

Schroeder is an active team roper, and his interests span American Quarter Horses, art, rodeo, political history and livestock genetics among other facets of the American West. Chuck is married to Kathi, a retired high school special education instructor, and they have one daughter, Dr. Lindsay Hastings, who is a faculty member at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and executive director of the Nebraska Human Resources Institute. Chuck and Kathi are also proud grandparents of two wonderful granddaughters.

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Articles, Releases & More

June 13, 2017
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Serviceship

February 10, 2017
students serving communities

students serving communities

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Welcome Theresa

February 24, 2016
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Webinars

November 23, 2015
RURAL FUTURES — WHAT MORE DO WE NEED TO KNOW? International Seminar and Webinar featuring Professor Richard Wakeford, Visiting Professor of Environment, Land Use and Rural Strategy, Birmingham City University in the United Kingdom. In thinking about Nebraska’s rural future in …

RURAL FUTURES — WHAT MORE DO WE NEED TO KNOW?

International Seminar and Webinar featuring Professor Richard Wakeford, Visiting Professor of Environment, Land Use and Rural Strategy, Birmingham City University in the United Kingdom.

RichardWakeford

In thinking about Nebraska’s rural future in an international context, are there research themes around rural development and land use where a region that is rich in land of different types might make a contribution of global significance? The world’s come a long way and drawn on lots of research, but there is more to explore! View Professor Wakeford’s presentation designed to explore the possibilities.

View Recorded Webinar »

Download Presentation »

 

 

CIVIC HEALTH WEBINAR

Webinar featuring Dr. Jim Cavaye, Associate Professor, The University of Queensland, Australia

Dr. Jim Cavaye, Associate Professor, The University of Queensland, Australia

Did you know that the youngest Nebraskans are consistently participating the least when it comes to civic engagement? The first-ever Civic Health Index for Nebraska shows that Millennials are the least likely of any age group to do things like volunteer, register to vote, show up to the polls, or contact public officials. However, the new report also shows that young Nebraskans have the potential to powerfully strengthen their communities.

Dr. Cavaye is an accomplished practitioner, educator and researcher in community development with 30 years’ experience working with rural and regional communities. He has assisted over 120 local communities across Australia and internationally with community appraisals, community engagement processes, community planning and economic development strategies.

View Recorded Webinar »

 

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Poster Competition Winners

November 13, 2015
Graduate Student Poster Competition Award Winners Top Prize – $625 each Joshua Fergen*, Anne Junod, Mary Emery, Across the 100th Meridian: Comparing Quality of Life in the Rural Cultures of the American West & Midwest, South Dakota State University Felix Fernando*, …

Graduate Student Poster Competition Award Winners

Top Prize – $625 each

  • Joshua Fergen*, Anne Junod, Mary Emery, Across the 100th Meridian: Comparing Quality of Life in the Rural Cultures of the American West & Midwest, South Dakota State University
  • Felix Fernando*, Gary Goreham, A Tale of Two Rural Cities: Interaction of Community Capitals during a North Dakota Oil Boom, North Dakota State University

Honorable Mention – $250 each

  • Kate Heelan, Todd Bartee, Bryce Abbey, Marissa Bongers*, Outcomes of a Family-Based Obesity Treatment Program: Consumption of a Low-Fat Diet and Weight Loss, University of Nebraska Kearney
  • Nancy Qwynne Lackey*, Lisa Pennisi, Savanna seeds on prairie plains: Applying South African ecotourism guide training techniques to the Great Plains, University of Nebraska – Lincoln School of Natural Resources
  • Tyler Smith*, Susan M. Sheridan, Amanda Witte, Sonya Bhatia, Samantha Angell, Amanda Moen, Teachers and Parents as Partners in Rural Communities: Effects on Student Engagement and Attention, University of Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools

Undergraduate Poster Competition Award Winners

Top Prize – $300 each

  • Hannah Brenden*, Melissa Laughlin*, Morgan Netz, Lindsay Hastings, Themes of Successful Leadership Transfer within Rural Nebraskan Communities, University of Nebraska – Lincoln UCARE
  • Addison E. Fairchild*, Alexandria PytlikZillig*, Lisa M. PytlikZillig, Comparing Rural and Urban Trust Development, University of Nebraska Public Policy Center
  • Laura Gorecki, Finding a Beefy Niche in Rural Nebraska, University of Nebraska – Lincoln Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program
  • Kate Heelan, Callen Maupin*, Todd Bartee, Matthew Bice, Physical Fitness and Academic Performance, University of Nebraska – Kearney Undergraduate Research Fellows

Honorable Mention – $100 each

  • Sarah Schalm*, Kelsey Arends, and L.J. McElravy, Rural Civic Action Program: Nebraska City, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Dept of Agricultural Education, Leadership and Communications
  • Nathan Kathol*, Dana Fritz, Hartington: Revealing a Community’s Strengths,  University of Lincoln
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Wakeford Seminar

November 10, 2015
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CIRD Issues Request for Proposals

November 3, 2015
Funding and Design Assistance Available for Rural Communities Citizen’s Institute on Rural DesignTM Issue Request for Proposals Tuesday, October 27, 2015 View PDF New York, NY— The Citizens’ Institute on Rural DesignTM (CIRD) has issued a request for proposals to rural …

Funding and Design Assistance Available for Rural Communities

Citizen’s Institute on Rural DesignTM Issue Request for Proposals

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

View PDF

New York, NY— The Citizens’ Institute on Rural DesignTM (CIRD) has issued a request for proposals to rural communities interested in applying for funding to host a community design workshop in either 2016 or 2017.

The Citizens’ Institute on Rural DesignTM is a National Endowment for the Arts leadership initiative in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Project for Public Spaces, Inc., along with the Orton Family Foundation. CIRD provides communities access to the resources they need to convert their own good ideas into reality.

CIRD offers annual competitive funding to six small towns or rural communities to host a two-and-ahalf day community development and design workshop. With assistance from a wide range of design, planning, and creative placemaking professionals, the workshops are intended to bring together local leaders from non-profits, community organizations, and government agencies to develop actionable solutions to the communities’ pressing development challenges. The communities will receive additional support through webinars, conference calls, and web-based resources on www.rural-design.org.

Design and development challenges include but are not limited to the following: Main Street revitalization, managing and shaping community growth, the design of community-supportive transportation systems, preservation of natural and historic landscapes and buildings, protecting working agricultural lands, and maximizing the role of arts and culture as an economic driver for local and regional economies. Since 1991 CIRD has convened more than 70 workshops in all regions of the country, empowering residents to leverage local assets today in order to build better places to live, work, and play in the future.

The deadline for submitting a proposal is Tuesday January 12, 2016 at 11:00 pm EST.

Successful applicants will receive a $10,000 stipend (that must be matched one-to-one) in addition to in-kind professional design expertise and technical assistance valued at $35,000. The Request for Proposals is posted on the CIRD website: www.rural-design.org/request-for-proposals. Selected communities will be announced in March of 2016 and workshops will be held during the fall of 2016 through spring of 2017. CIRD staff will also offer two pre-application assistance webinars to answer questions and guide interested applicants in assembling their proposals. The first is scheduled for Tuesday November 10th, and the second will take place on Thursday, December 10th. Both calls will begin at 3:00 pm EST and last approximately one hour. Participation in each call is free but registration is required. To register visit: www.rural-design.org/application-assistance

ABOUT THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts and the agency is celebrating this milestone with events and activities through September 2016. Go to www.arts.gov/50th to enjoy art stories from around the nation, peruse Facts & Figures, and check out the anniversary calendar.

ABOUT THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE – RURAL DEVELOPMENT

USDA Rural Development administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $176 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Visit the USDA at www.rd.usda.gov.

ABOUT PROJECT FOR PUBLIC SPACES, INC.

Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is a nonprofit planning, design, and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities. Founded in 1975, PPS has completed projects in over 2,500 communities and all 50 US states. PPS has become an internationally recognized center for resources, tools, and inspiration about placemaking. Visit PPS at www.pps.org

ABOUT THE ORTON FAMILY FOUNDATION

With its Community Heart & Soul™ method, the Orton Family Foundation empowers people to shape the future of their communities by improving local decision-making, creating a shared sense of belonging and ultimately strengthening the social, cultural and economic vibrancy of communities. The Foundation assists the residents of small cities and towns in the use of the Community Heart & Soul™ method, a barn-raising approach to community planning and development that invites residents to shape the future of their communities in ways that uphold the unique character of each place. For more information visit www.orton.org.

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Igniting Powerful Action

October 12, 2015
Igniting Powerful Action with Dr. Denise A. Trudeau Polkas, leadership coach with Blue Egg Leadership and SynoVation Valley Leadership Academy We live in the age of overflowing resources. You have the opportunity to Pick YOUR TOMATOES and chose from dozens …

Igniting Powerful Action
with Dr. Denise A. Trudeau Polkas, leadership coach with Blue Egg Leadership and SynoVation Valley Leadership Academy

We live in the age of overflowing resources. You have the opportunity to Pick YOUR TOMATOES and chose from dozens of resources at any given time. Only you have the power to use these resources as INGREDIENTS that will create the best “SECRET SAUCE” of your life! We all have great ideas STEWING in our minds and hearts. We have the power to choose, create and make bold moves! Discover how to take ACTION with your dream of starting or expanding a business, your idea of contributing to local communities and invent bold ways to make a positive impact for those around us. Join us to help you CREATE, STEW and PRESERVE your “BEST RECIPE” for action!

Details:
November 17, 2015
Central Community College-Ord Learning Center | 1514 K Street | Ord, Nebraska
9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Register to attend at : cyn.nebraska.edu
Cost: $25 | Pay at the door
Lunch will be included

View Flyer

View Agenda

Hosted by: Central Community College-Ord Learning Center
Sponsored by: Connecting Young Nebraskans, SynoVation Valley Leadership Academy

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RFI Hosts Regional Forums

August 27, 2014
The University of Nebraska’s Rural Futures Institute will host a series of regional forums this fall aimed at showcasing success stories in Nebraska communities and sharing outcomes of RFI-funded projects that are serving the people of the state.   Registration …

The University of Nebraska’s Rural Futures Institute will host a series of regional forums this fall aimed at showcasing success stories in Nebraska communities and sharing outcomes of RFI-funded projects that are serving the people of the state.

 

Registration is now open for the forums, which will take place on Sept. 30 at the Steinhart Lodge at the Lied Lodge and Conference Center in Nebraska City; Oct. 9 at the Convention Center at the Cobblestone Hotel and Suites in Broken Bow; and Oct. 14 at the Hampton Inn and Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Scottsbluff.

 

The day-long forums begin at 10:30 a.m. and conclude at 7 p.m. Registration is $25, which covers all activities, lunch and evening appetizers. The forums are open to the public, and attendees are encouraged to come prepared to discuss their goals for their regions of the state and ideas on how the Rural Futures Institute can partner with communities to achieve those goals.

 

“The Rural Futures Institute exists for the benefit of the state. Our goal is to help ensure a strong economy and high quality of life in rural communities across Nebraska and beyond,” said Chuck Schroeder, founding executive director of the Rural Futures Institute. “If we’re to be successful, we need to continually communicate with our most important stakeholders – Nebraska citizens whose energy, creativity and leadership is vital to our state’s future. These regional forums are a way to continue our dialogue with Nebraskans about how we can work together to ensure a strong future for all citizens. I can’t wait to hear their input and ideas.”

 

The regional forums will focus on growing economies, energized leadership and vibrant communities. At each forum, attendees will have the opportunity to hear from local leaders about what they are doing to enhance business growth and downtown redevelopment, expand educational opportunities, and increase the quality of life for all generations, including youth and young adults. Forums will conclude with a town hall dialog about what participants want to see for the future of their regions and explore collaborative opportunities to reach those desired futures.

 

Schroeder noted that the forums will provide valuable direction on future programming and funding opportunities within the Rural Futures Institute.

 

The forums also will spotlight some of the grant-funded projects supported by the Rural Futures Institute. The past two years, faculty from across the University of Nebraska, together with partners around the state, and even across state lines, are pursuing about two dozen projects funded by the RFI focusing on topics critical to rural people and communities, including the shortage of mental health providers in rural areas, workforce development in rural communities, rural leadership and engagement, and health and nutrition.

 

Visit ruralfutures.nebraska.edu/conference to register. For more information, contact the Rural Futures Institute at ruralfutures@nebraska.edu or (402) 472-9287.

 

The Rural Futures Institute was approved by the Board of Regents in 2012. A conference the following year attracted over 500 attendees who helped shape the institute’s goals, and in December, Schroeder, a Nebraska native, began his tenure as founding executive director following a national search. Another National Rural Futures Conference is planned for fall 2015.

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Connecting Young Nebraskans Summit

August 4, 2014
Registration is now open for the 2014 CYN Summit! Young leaders from Kearney, Hastings and Grand Island are coming together to create a dynamic conference for young leaders across the state of Nebraska. On November 7th, young Nebraskans from across …

Registration is now open for the 2014 CYN Summit!

Young leaders from Kearney, Hastings and Grand Island are coming together to create a dynamic conference for young leaders across the state of Nebraska. On November 7th, young Nebraskans from across the state will gather for the 2014 CYN Summit in Kearney to share ideas, energize each other and envision a brighter future for our state.

The logistics of the event are coordinated by representatives of the Rural Futures Institute and a local summit planning team comprised of young leaders from the Kearney, Hastings, and Grand Island communities. “Young leaders from the tri-cities are excited to join forces to offer the state a dynamic conference, centered on professional and personal development,” says Mary Berlie of Grand Island, a member of the summit planning team.

“I’m so pleased to be working with the tri-city region to plan this event. In years past, the summit planning teams have been confined to a small geographic region, but this year the tri-city region has come together to collaboratively plan what I expect to be an amazing event. This collaborative mindset will serve the region and state well in the future.” says Kayla Schnuelle, CYN coordinator and Marketing Communications Specialist for the University of Nebraska Rural Futures Institute.

“The programming at the summit will provide valuable take home information for the attendees and priceless networking with engaged individuals across the state. The relationships created will be beneficial for a lifetime! What’s better than sharing best practices with your friends and neighbors? I think we all win when we work together for the greater good of Nebraskans,” says Penny Parker, summit planning team member.

Keynote speaker, Joe Gerstandt, will encourage summit attendees to put the power of authenticity, divergent thinking, and constructive conflict to work to unleash creativity and innovation in Nebraska communities and organizations.

The summit’s sessions introduce attendees to new ideas and experiences, which helps to broaden young leaders’ perspectives. One session will allow participants to experience living with limited resources, followed by a conversation about addressing poverty and food insecurity issues in the state of Nebraska.

Attendees will walk away with relationships, resources, and tools to grow professionally, personally, and as a civic and community leader. In creating new ideas through CYN, attendees are able to understand and respect differences while working towards a unified goal of becoming a great state to live and work.

The CYN Summit is the annual gathering for the Connecting Young Nebraskans network, which is sponsored in part by the University of Nebraska Rural Futures Institute. Connecting Young Nebraskans (CYN) is designed to connect, empower and retain young Nebraskans. CYN strives to enhance opportunities for individuals to impact their communities through networking and learning experiences. The network is a dynamic and diverse group of peers with a passion for making a difference, a willingness to learn and the desire to build important relationships to help shape the future of Nebraska.

 

Join young leaders in Nebraska for the 2014 CYN Summit by registering at ruralfutures.nebraska.edu/cyn-summit.

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Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic Outreach Tour

July 30, 2014
On August 4-5, 2014, Student Attorneys from the Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic at the University of Nebraska College of Law will travel to Chadron, Scottsbluff, and Broken Bow as part of a rural outreach tour. Student Attorneys John Cantril, Preston Peterson, …

On August 4-5, 2014, Student Attorneys from the Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic at the University of Nebraska College of Law will travel to Chadron, Scottsbluff, and Broken Bow as part of a rural outreach tour. Student Attorneys John Cantril, Preston Peterson, and Megan Rotherham will provide an overview of the legal services the Clinic provides and answer questions regarding how the Clinic can benefit Central and Western Nebraska communities. Learn more.

All events will be free of charge and are aimed to educate local businesses and start-up ventures, attorneys, and other service providers. The tour will consist of the following stops:

  • Luncheon and presentation hosted by the Nebraska Northwest Development Corporation, August 4th at 12:00 p.m. at the Country Kitchen in Chadron (1250 W 10th St.);
  • Presentation hosted by Twin City Development in Scottsbluff (1620 Broadway), August 4th at 5:00 p.m.;
  • Office hours for local businesses and service providers, held in conjunction with the Rural Enterprise Assistance Project, August 5th from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce (444 South 8th Avenue); and
  • Presentation hosted by the Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce (444 South 8th Avenue), August 5th at 12:30 p.m.

This rural tour is a key step toward building greater connections with Central and Western Nebraska communities, furthering the aims of the Clinic’s partnership with the Rural Enterprise Assistance Project and the UNL Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program. “A primary goal of this tour is to continue building a meaningful and sustainable network between the Clinic and attorneys, businesses, and economic development stakeholders that will create opportunities for collaboration and service to foster entrepreneurship in these communities,” said Brett Stohs, Cline Williams Director of the Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic.
About the University of Nebraska College of Law Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic
The Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic provides representation and counsel to start-up businesses on a variety of early-stage legal issues. Clinic services are free of charge; however, representation is limited to certain early-stage matters with the intention of referring clients to local attorneys for further assistance.

To learn more, please visit http://law.unl.edu/eclinic or call (402) 472-1680.

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Funded grants announced

April 28, 2014
Since the Rural Futures Conference this past November, teams have been coming together to submit grant applications for one or both of the Rural Futures Institute’s competitive grant programs. After several rounds and multiple review sessions, the RFI is pleased …

Since the Rural Futures Conference this past November, teams have been coming together to submit grant applications for one or both of the Rural Futures Institute’s competitive grant programs. After several rounds and multiple review sessions, the RFI is pleased to announce the funding of seven Teaching and Engagement grants and four Research and Engagement grants. The quality of the grants was excellent this year and the teams that reviewed the grants were impressed by the diversity of topics and the transdisciplinary approaches that were proposed. The grantees have been notified and they will begin work on July 1, 2014.

2014 AWARDED GRANTS INCLUDE: click here for printable PDF

Teaching and Engagement Grants

  • Rural Community Engagement and Leadership Program, Gina Matkin, UNL with other UNL partners and Nebraskans for Civic Reform
  • Justice by Geography: Issues that Inequitably Impact Rural Youth, Anne Hobbs, UNO with Nebraska Juvenile Justice Association, Nebraska State Bar Association, Nebraska Association of County Officials, Nebraska Juvenile Services Division, and Nebraska Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice
  • Addressing the Rural Shortage of Mental Health Providers Through a Virtual Mentorship Network, Howard Liu, UNMC with other UNMC partners and Region III Behavioral Health Services
  • Principles of Community Engagement in Public Health: Service Learning, Community-Based Participatory Research, and Civic Engagement, Kyle Ryan, Peru State College with College of Public Health at UNMC and Rural Health Education Network
  • The Great Question Challenge, Shane Potter, UNL Extension with the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program at UNL and DuPont Pioneer
  • Community Gardens and Farmer’s Market for Curtis, Nebraska, Brad Ramsdale, Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA) with University of Nebraska Extension
  • The Nebraska Hayseed Project, Petra Wahlqvist, UNL with the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at UNL, Lied Center for Performing Arts, North Platte Concert Association, and Midwest Theater

Research and Engagement Grants

  • Healthy Food, Healthy Choice, Christopher Gustafson, UNL Agricultural Economics with Child, Youth, and Environments Center for Community Engagement at the University of Colorado, and Health and Nutritional Sciences Department at South Dakota State University
  • Bridging the skills gap: Workforce development in rural communities in the Great Plains, Carolyn Hatch, North Central Regional Center for Rural Development, Michigan State University, University of Nebraska Extension, South Dakota State University Extension
  • Nebraska Primary Care Practice-Based Research Network Project, Christopher Kratochvil, University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) with other UNMC personnel, Department of Health and Human Services, and rural Nebraska physicians
  • Catalyzing the Role of Micropolitan America in the Future of Rural America: Why Not Begin this New Frontier for Research and Engagement in Nebraska?, Eric Thompson, Bureau of Business Research, University of Nebraska-Lincoln with other UNL partners, Rural Policy Research Institute and the University of Nebraska-Omaha

 

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New Broadband Survey Notes Progress…

April 25, 2014
NEWS RELEASE FROM IANR NEWS SERVICE, UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA                 — New Broadband Survey Notes Progress in Four Years in Nebraska April 24, 2014 New Broadband Survey Notes Progress in Four Years in Nebraska LINCOLN, Neb. — Although elderly and …

NEWS RELEASE FROM IANR NEWS SERVICE, UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA

                — New Broadband Survey Notes Progress in Four Years in Nebraska

April 24, 2014

New Broadband Survey Notes Progress in Four Years in Nebraska

LINCOLN, Neb. — Although elderly and low-income Nebraskans continue to lag behind other demographic groups in Internet access, they have made significant gains in the last four years, according to a new survey.

The survey, “Internet Connectivity and Use in Nebraska: A Follow-up Study,” tracks progress made since a 2010 survey that asked about Nebraskans’ current use of technology, their opinions about community technology resources and their technology training needs.

Tracking this information is key, said Chuck Schroeder, founding executive director of the Nebraska Rural Futures Institute.

“We know that Internet access, and the speed and reliability of broadband service, are critically important to the viability and resiliency of rural communities,” he said. “Entrepreneurial business opportunities, robust educational programming, quality healthcare and overall quality of life are significantly enhanced when current information technology is part of the community infrastructure. And rural people are at a significant disadvantage when it is not. While the disparity between rural and urban locales continues, we are pleased to see the progress shown in this report.”

Both surveys were conducted by the Nebraska Broadband Initiative, a partnership of state and University of Nebraska entities.

Overall, 86 percent of Nebraska households have Internet access, and 82 percent have broadband service, up from 81 percent and 76 percent, respectively, since 2010.

While older people, people with lower household income, people with lower education levels, households without children and households in nonmetropolitan areas continue to be less likely to have Internet access and, specifically broadband service, some of those groups increased Internet access considerably since 2010, noted Becky Vogt, survey research manager with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

– Persons aged 65 and older with Internet access at home increased from 56 percent to 69 percent. For broadband service, those numbers are 48 percent and 64 percent in 2010 and 2014, respectively.

– The proportion of persons with the lowest household incomes with broadband service at home increased from 44 percent to 53 percent.

The survey also found that Nebraskans in the Lincoln and Omaha areas were more likely to have broadband service at home – 90 and 87 percent respectively – compared to Central Nebraska’s 73 percent. However, Central Nebraska has seen a significant increase, from 56 percent in 2010.

Other findings:

– Sixty-five percent of non-Internet users don’t have a computer; 36 percent said Internet access is too expensive; and 34 percent say they have no interest in the Internet.

– Use of several Internet activities has increased in four years, including: social networking, up from 69 percent to 80 percent; watching videos, up from 72 percent to 79 percent; online banking or bill pay, up from 72 percent to 79 percent; VoIP, Skype, magicJack, or other video phoning technology, up from 19 percent to 37 percent; and two-way audio/video meetings, up from 15 percent to 27 percent.

– Nebraska households are generally satisfied with the reliability, speed and support of their Internet service but less satisfied with its price.

– Seventy-seven percent of Nebraska households have access to a local place, such as a library or school, where use of Internet-accessible computers is free.

– Many Nebraskans are interested in information technology courses such as website development and basic computer networking. And most prefer traditional delivery methods for this training, such as CD or DVD, face-to-face workshops, online courses and videos.

Frank Landis, chairman of the Nebraska Public Service Commission, said he was encouraged by the findings.

“Today’s survey report shows real progress in the deployment and utilization of high-speed Internet capability in Nebraska. It reveals that almost nine in 10 Nebraska households have Internet access at home,” he said. “However, a gap remains for consumers living in our rural areas, for low-income consumers, and for our aging population.  For example, over a third of non-users cite affordability as the reason for not subscribing to Internet at home.

“Having the very best data is critical in the development of a comprehensive broadband plan to increase Internet access and adoption going forward,” Landis added. “I appreciate the work of our partners in the Nebraska Broadband Initiative. More importantly, I thank the many Nebraskans who invested their time to respond to this survey.  The PSC looks forward to doing our part to tackle the challenges ahead. ”

Schroeder said, “In order to address this issue, we must understand the availability of technology, its utilization and the training needs of rural residents. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, as a partner in the Nebraska Broadband Initiative, is an essential component in conducting this research in a timely, thorough and credible fashion.

“We cannot effectively address challenges and opportunities only described anecdotally. This research provides a powerful tool for understanding and strategic action by both public and private sector players in the broadband arena,” Schroeder added.

The Nebraska Broadband Initiative is a partnership of the Nebraska Public Service Commission, the University of Nebraska, Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Nebraska Information Technology Commission and the AIM Institute.

For more information, check http://broadband.nebraska.gov

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Are you wondering about the next RFI Conference?

April 2, 2014
The next Rural Futures Conference will be in the fall of 2015. The exact dates are TBA. Click here for more information.

The next Rural Futures Conference will be in the fall of 2015. The exact dates are TBA. Click here for more information.

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New grants page added to RFI website

March 28, 2014
The RFI competitive grants program now occupies it’s own space on the RFI website. View the grants page.

The RFI competitive grants program now occupies it’s own space on the RFI website. View the grants page.

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Community Questions Showcase

March 5, 2014
CommunityQuestionswebsite- final
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“The Great Question Challenge”

February 12, 2014
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program, and DuPont Pioneer are partnering to develop a new youth program titled, “The Great Question Challenge”.  The Great Question Challenge is designed to empower high school students to create local …

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program, and DuPont Pioneer are partnering to develop a new youth program titled, “The Great Question Challenge”.  The Great Question Challenge is designed to empower high school students to create local solutions to issues of national and global importance.

For 2014, the Great Question Challenge focuses on solutions to food insecurity. About 15% of all U.S. households are food insecure, and in Nebraska, nearly 100,000 children are insecure as to their next meal. Creating locally appropriate solutions to this challenge will mobilize student community leaders to identify how to alleviate hunger and increase nutrition in their hometowns.

A workshop will be held on April 5, 2014 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to educate students about food insecurity and the role they play in becoming a catalyst to change.  This day-long workshop will include interaction with industry leaders, discussion about food insecurity, and the opportunity to network with students from across the state.  Students will walk away from this experience with improved or new ideas of how to address food insecurity in their local communities. Registration for the spring workshop is open until Friday, March 28, 2014.

Following the workshop, student teams from across the state are invited to submit proposals that address food insecurity in their local community.  Project proposals are due on April 18, 2014.  Up to 8 teams will receive funding to help implement and execute their community project.  Teams will be mentored throughout their projects and a final event will be held in the fall to celebrate the success of the teams.

For more information about The Great Question Challenge, visit http://4h.unl.edu/greatquestionchallenge or contact Shane Potter at spotter3@unl.edu.

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Wind turbines

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Awards

September 27, 2011
competitive awards program

competitive awards program

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September 27, 2011

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Latest RFI Tweets

September 27, 2011
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Fellows

September 27, 2011
connecting experts of rural

connecting experts of rural

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Institute

September 27, 2011
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about us

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CYN

September 27, 2011
young leaders network

young leaders network

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