Rural Futures Conference, Fall of 2015

Announcing the 2015 Rural Futures Conference… We invite you to attend the ‘Hope Inspires Vision’ conference that brings together local, state, national and international stakeholders who are committed to creating brighter futures for rural America. Join this powerful network of catalysts by registering for the conference.

One conference, two locations:

October 21-23, 2015

Nebraska Innovation Campus
2021 Transformation Drive
Lincoln, NE

October 21-22, 2015

Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture
404 East 7th Street
Curtis, NE

Plan now to attend, registration opens July 1, 2015.

Rural Opportunities Fair

During the opening day of the 2015 Conference, the Rural Futures Institute will host the Rural Opportunities Fair on the University of Nebraska’s East Campus in Lincoln.

The Rural Opportunities Fair is a pilot event for the RFI and more than a career fair. Community representatives will engage with students interested in establishing their futures in a rural place and talk about internship and career opportunities. Students will be able to ask questions and learn more about communities in the region.

Communities are invited to be a part of establishing new relationships with university students by sharing all of the unique opportunities their community has to offer.


 RFI Regional Forums, Fall of 2014

Forum_Image_1_editDuring the fall of 2014, the Rural Futures Institute (RFI) hosted three regional forums across the state, highlighting local success stories, and opened a dialogue with regional leaders, while showcasing a number of current RFI grant-funded projects. Each forum was tailored to the region and the tours and discussions was grounded in information that we had collected by survey from each region.

The RFI Regional Forums each included a regional tour that showcased regional development successes that emphasize growing economies, energizing leadership and enhancing community vitality. Forum participants also heard from local leaders on how their collaborative efforts have paid off in business growth, downtown redevelopment, expanded opportunities for further education and increasing quality of life for all generations, including youth and young adults.

The forums concluded with discussions about what participants saw as the future for their region. This discussion will help provide direction for future programming efforts and funding opportunities with the RFI.

The 2013 Rural Futures Conference:

rfc2012Going “Beyond Boundaries,” was the purpose of the 2013 Rural Futures Conference that was held Nov. 3-5  at the Cornhusker Marriott in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The University of Nebraska-sponsored event engaged over 500 people with widely varying experiences, disciplines and perspectives on rural life, bringing ideas together to enrich the efforts of the Rural Futures Institute.The conference program was designed to nudge participants into imagining new solutions to old problems by creating structured as well as informal opportunities for conference-goers to socialize and engage in problem-solving activities. It also aimed to highlight the Rural Futures Institute’s first-year accomplishments and to explore some of the key challenges facing rural communities as they strive to shape their future.

The Rural Futures Conference held sessions highlighting various speakers, namely humanities scholar Clay Jenkinson, who portrayed Thomas Jefferson as he discussed pushing the boundaries of the U.S. beyond the Mississippi River; Tom Koulopoulos, president and founder of the Delphi Group who provided participants with creative strategies for identifying and solving problems in their communities; and Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, who identified challenges for rural people to harness new economic ideas for the rural future. Additional highlights of the conference included welcoming the Rural Futures Institute Founding Director, Chuck Schroeder, learning about big ideas from conference participants in the Quick Pitch Spotlight, and collaborating with attendees and communities through the Posters and Partnering session. Find the full conference agenda here.

“I look forward to the success of this bold, risky, ambitious effort for us to ensure that we do everything we can to tap the intellectual capabilities, the energy and the commitment of people at our universities, our communities and our governments to build a great rural life in America and beyond.”

J.B. Milliken, University of Nebraska President


Conference Videos: View the highlight video along with videos of each of the main stage speakers and breakout session report videos.

Community Questions: Preview a list of communities and the questions they showcased during an evening social at the conference. These community teams went to great lengths to pose a serious question for conference attendees to react to.

Quick Pitch Spotlight: Conference participants shared their “big idea” for rural people and places during a fast paced pitch competition. Winners from each podium were chosen along with an audience favorite.

Posters: Research and big idea posters were showcased and presented as posters at the conference. Winners were chosen for the graduate and undergraduate poster competition.

Download the 2013 Rural Futures Conference Proceedings