Our Team

Chuck_cropped
x

Chuck Schroeder

Founding Executive Director
cschroeder@nebraska.edu | 402-472-7252

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.


Connie Reimers-Hild
x

Dr. Connie Reimers-Hild

Associate Executive Director & Chief Futurist
creimers-hild@nebraska.edu | (402) 472-9231

Dr. Connie Reimers-Hild currently serves as the Associate Executive Director for the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska. The Rural Futures Institute is dedicated to becoming an internationally recognized leader for increasing community capacity as well as the confidence of rural people to address their challenges and opportunities, resulting in resilient and sustainable rural futures. Prior to her role with the Rural Futures Institute, Dr. Connie spent nine years as Unit Leader and Extension Educator at the Kimmel Education and Research Center in Nebraska City and ten years in the Department of Entomology at UNL.

She is also a married mompreneur, futurist, Author of two books: Go Wild with Confidence! and Blue the Bee Learns to be Happy. Dr. Connie authors the blog, AskDrConnie.com and is a Firewalker, Mini Wiener Dog Lover and 80’s Hair Band Fanatic!

Connect with Dr. Connie (@AskDrConnie) on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Katelyn_Cropped
x

Katelyn Ideus

Director of Communications & Public Relations
kideus@nebraska.edu | (402) 472-2930

As the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the Rural Futures Institute, Katelyn Ideus develops the strategic communications plan for the institute, delivering stories about the successes earned, innovations created and solutions found by rural communities around the world. She also shares the University of Nebraska’s research, resources and expertise for these communities.

Katelyn previously supported the University of Nebraska’s online education initiatives for five years, specifically the University of Nebraska High School, which works with schools and students around the world. Prior to that, she worked in internal communications at Nelnet, Inc. She also served as communications specialist for a children’s hospital in downtown St. Louis, working with St. Louis University faculty physicians to support rural communities throughout Missouri and Illinois. She graduated from the University of Nebraska College of Journalism & Mass Communications with bachelor’s in news editorial and broadcast journalism and a master’s in integrated media communications.

Katelyn lives with her husband and two children near Adams, Nebraska, where they are part of the Ideus family farm operation. Katelyn’s husband, Tyler, is also a chiropractic physician in a practice in Lincoln.


TheresaKlein_web
x

Theresa Klein

Rural Engagement & Executive Team
tklein@nebraska.edu | 402-472-2940

Klein is excited to join the RFI team to assist in delivering on the overarching goal of the Rural Futures Institute: “To be a World Class Center for Exploring and Impacting All Things Rural.” Her grassroots leadership experience and perspective add another rural dimension to RFI’s Executive Team.

Graduating from UNL after studying Animal Science and Ag Economics, Klein traveled the entire state on her first job while handling all public relations and communications for the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. She then joined the University of Nebraska Foundation serving as Director of Communications for 11 years with the unique opportunity to work with all of the NU campuses.

To raise their children in the best of places, the Kleins moved to a small farm west of Wahoo, near her family’s dairy farm, so the kids would experience production agriculture and rural life. She began serving as Development Director for Bishop Neumann High School, with a personal goal of getting the facility upgraded by its 50th Anniversary in May 2015. This move allowed Theresa to immerse herself in a wide variety of leadership opportunities ranging from the Wahoo Chamber of Commerce, Teammates Board & Public Library Foundation to helping found the Friends of Saunders County 4-H & Extension Foundation.

After attending the RFI Conferences in 2011 and 2013, Theresa became a fan of the RFI approach. She believes in engaging leaders of all ages in applying innovative ideas and community-specific strategies to strengthen individual communities. Currently, she serves on the Saunders County Ag Society and was recently appointed Trustee of the Saunders County Medical Center, continuing a real world connection with the complex challenge of affecting change in a rural community.


062013_Schnuelle_11RT810
x

Kayla Schnuelle

Leadership Engagement Director & Network Weaver
kschnuelle@nebraska.edu | 402-472-2935

Schnuelle directs the marketing efforts of the Rural Futures Institute in addition to coordinating a state-wide network of young professionals, Connecting Young Nebraskans. She has developed a deep understanding of the opportunities and trials that young professionals are finding in rural places. With an immense support network in place, Schnuelle has coordinated three statewide summits and has now also assisted in planning two national Rural Futures Institute Conferences.

She earned a B.A. in Business and a Master’s degree in Agricultural Leadership Education and Communications (ALEC) from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Upon graduation she assumed a position with the Nebraska Rural Initiative and eventually that position evolved into her current position with the Rural Futures Institute. Schnuelle has been a part of the initial brainstorming and development that has led to the formation of the RFI.

Schnuelle is a Valentine, Nebraska native and currently lives and farms near Diller with her husband Joey and sons, Lane, Samuel and Liam. Kayla is forever busy helping her husband manage several agricultural business operations and especially enjoys raising her sons with agricultural roots. She also enjoys coaching volleyball, and traveling when she can.


062013_Peterson_14RT810
x

Kim Peterson

Director of Competitive Awards & Finance
kpeterson@nebraska.edu | (402) 472-9287

Peterson grew up on a family farm in Fillmore County, Nebraska and currently resides on the family farm near Grafton. She is a former Nebraska LEAD member. Kim attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and graduated with a degree in Animal Science. Upon graduation, Kim served as Communications Director for the Nebraska Stock Growers Association in Alliance. After five years, she returned to the family farm in Fillmore County and stayed at home for a few years to raise her sons.

In 1992, she accepted the position of Communications Coordinator with the University of Nebraska at the South Central Research and Extension Center. She was employed there until the center closed in 2003 whereupon Kim transferred to the UNL campus where she served as Coordinator and Outreach Program Specialist for the Nebraska Rural Initiative. The Rural Initiative then folded into what is now the Rural Futures Institute, where Kim continues in her Outreach Program Specialist role, involved with the RFI grants program and many other projects connected with the RFI. More recently, Kim has taken classes to complete a graduate degree in Marketing, Communications and Advertising.

Kim is married and she and her husband, Stan, have four sons, all whom live in rural Nebraska. The family has grown with the addition of three daughter-in-laws and eight grandchildren. Kim enjoys crafts, quilting, and most importantly, spending time with family and living the great life in rural Nebraska.


lauren
x

Lauren Simonsen

Creative Specialist
lsimonsen@nebraska.edu | 402-472-9227

Lauren Simonsen joined the Rural Futures Institute team in September of 2015. As graphic design specialist, Lauren creates communication and marketing materials for the Rural Futures Institute, along with managing their website.

Lauren recently earned her bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Nebraska—Lincoln. Her knowledge and love of art compliments her eye for good design. Although her professional career is just beginning, she has already gained valuable experience during her internships with Mustang Media Inc. and Jacht Ad Lab.

As a native Nebraskan who grew up in the rural town of Sutton, Lauren has an appreciation for rural living and the importance that small towns play in both our economy and cultural identity. Lauren currently lives in Lincoln, and she enjoys supporting local artists and musicians by attending their shows and spending time with her family and friends.


ShawnKaskie_crop
x

Shawn Kaskie

Fellows Program Coordinator
kaskiesc@unk.edu | 308-865-8135

Shawn is the Director of the Center for Rural Research and Development at the University of Nebraska at Kearney in the College of Business and Technology.  Shawn is a certified Professional Community & Economic Developer, and a former Gallup Entrepreneurship Acceleration System Guide, Business Retention & Expansion consultant, and NxLevel Entrepreneurship Instructor.  He has a Masters Degree in Regional Planning and undergraduate majors in Public Administration, Sociology, and Psychology from Hastings College.  He has experience providing  in community economic development & market research services to over 60 communities in over a dozen rural Midwest counties throughout Nebraska, Illinois, Wisconsin & in Papua New Guinea as a Peace Corps Volunteer. LinkedIn Profile


Aliese_Cropped
x

Aliese Hoffman

Administrative Specialist
ahoffman@nebraska.edu | 308-865-8199

Aliese is from the rural town of Red Cloud, Nebraska 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 in December 2013, she worked in the hospitality industry where she gained skills in customer service, event planning, and management.  She began working in the Center for Rural Research and Development at UNK in August of 2015.  Here she is involved in event coordination, outreach services, market research and supports the Enactus student organization.  Aliese is excited to expand her responsibilities and be a part of the RFI team!


140304_Cantrell_003RT810
x

Randolph Cantrell

Rural Sociologist
rcantrell1@unl.edu | 402-472-0919

Cantrell has a joint appointment between the Rural Futures Institute and the University of Nebraska Extension. One of his notable projects is the Rural Poll which is an annual survey conducted by the UNL Department of Agricultural Economics in partnership with the Rural Futures Institute.

Dr. Cantrell grew up in the small Southern Michigan community of Jonesville, where his family operated a bakery on Main Street. His academic and teaching interests continue to reflect his commitment to small rural communities. As the Director of Minnesota’s State Data Center in the early 1990’s, he became interested in how communities and institutions adapt to demographic changes, and he has advised communities throughout the Midwest on the nature and impact of demographic trends. His research has focused on institutional change in rural areas, and his publications reflect that interest, with a special emphasis on voluntary and non-profit organizations.

Cantrell received his B.A. in Anthropology and Economics from Michigan State University (1971), M.S. in Labor Studies from the New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations (1973), and Ph.D. in Development Sociology from Cornell University (1976). He joined the University of Nebraska in 1995, following a 17-year career with Cooperative Extension at the University of Minnesota in various outreach and administrative roles.


062013_Herpel_49RT810
x

Rachael Herpel

Assistant Director - DWFI
rherpel@nebraska.edu | 402-472-4977

Herpel serves as a Research and Outreach Coordinator the Rural Futures Institute and the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute. Through this joint appointment she is able to share best practices and lessons learned to the benefit of both institutes.

Herpel is also a liaison between the University of Nebraska’s water faculty and the Nebraska Legislature, Natural Resources Districts, and other water resources decision-makers from across the state. Her responsibilities include coordinating the University’s Water Resources Advisory Panel.

Herpel returned to NU after ten years as the community programs director for the Lincoln-based Groundwater Foundation. There Herpel directed projects focused on source water protection, septic system maintenance, water policy education, private wells, proper disposal of pharmaceuticals and personal care products, waterborne pathogens, and wellhead protection area management. Herpel authored Consensus Building: A Primer for Local Leaders and the Foundation’s various Groundwater Guardian and source water protection publications. Herpel edited Using Technology to Conduct a Contaminant Source Inventory: A Primer for Small Communities and Protecting Our Water: A Primer for Preventing the Pathogenic Contamination of Drinking Water Sources.  Betwee­­­n 1999 and 2006 Herpel facilitated over 100 source water protection workshops in 32 states.

Herpel earned a B.A. in Political Science and a Master’s degree in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she specialized in environmental planning and water quality issues. Herpel has previously worked for the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District, the Nebraska Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the University of Nebraska Extension – Platte Watershed Program.


Jessica_Shoemaker
x

Jessica Shoemaker

Assistant Professor of Law
jshoemaker@unl.edu | 402-472-0420

Professor Shoemaker joined the law faculty in 2012. She received her B.A. degree in English, summa cum laude, from the University of Iowa, and graduated first in her class from the University of Wisconsin Law School, where she also served as an editor of the Wisconsin Law Review and was active in a range of student organizations.

After law school, Professor Shoemaker clerked for the Honorable David M. Ebel on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Following her clerkship, Professor Shoemaker was awarded a prestigious Skadden Fellowship to work for Farmers’ Legal Action Group, Inc. in Saint Paul, Minnesota, on a range of legal issues affecting farmers and rural communities. Professor Shoemaker then spent five years as an attorney with Arnold & Porter LLP in Denver, Colorado, and worked on litigation in several different courts, including the United States Supreme Court. She has experience in nearly every phase of dispute resolution from pre-complaint counseling to appeal, and over the course of her career, she has represented Indian tribes, energy developers, entrepreneurs, farmers, and others.

Professor Shoemaker teaches Federal Indian Law, Property I and II, and a seminar in rural development and energy law. Her research focuses on rural land tenure (including Indian land tenure), community economic development, agriculture, and energy. She will also be participating in the University of Nebraska’s efforts to establish the Rural Futures Institute.

Prior to her legal career, Professor Shoemaker was a writer, a VISTA volunteer, and a community organizer.


darla
x

Darla Heggem

Director of Development
darla.heggem@nufoundation.org | (402) 458-1100

Darla Heggem, serves as the Director of Development at the University of Nebraska Foundation for the Rural Futures Institute. Prior to supporting the RFI, Darla served as the Employee Recruitment Manager for Twin Cities Development, an Economic Development Organization for Scottsbluff County for 8 years.  She worked with over 100 companies designing and implementing employee recruitment and retention strategies for western Nebraska, recruiting over 300 families.  As co-chair of the Scottsbluff/Gering Chamber of Commerce Business and Education Committee, she spearheaded the Bi-Annual Business and Industry Tours which connected over 1000 high school students with 75 local businesses, showcasing career opportunities to encourage students to remain or return to the community. This event was awarded the 2012 Event of the Year by the Mid America Chamber Executives.  She currently lives and works in Scottsbluff, NE, raising her daughter. Through her work experience and living and raising her daughter in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, Darla has an unique understanding of the many challenges of rural communities while also recognizing the remarkable quality of life our rural communities have to offer.  Her passion for rural communities as a vibrant, thriving places to raise families fuels her philanthropic work in support of the Rural Futures Institute.


JamieMashino_crop
x

Jamie Mashino

Student Intern
jmashino@nebraska.edu |

Jamie Mashino is a senior agribusiness major with minors in entrepreneurship and leadership. She spent the summer of 2016 in Curtis, NE, on behalf of the Rural Futures Institute, leading multiple economic development projects as part the RFI Student Serviceship program. She is continuing her work in the RFI office as a student intern. Jamie’s focus at Rural Futures is helping organize the Rural Regional Forums and helping organize and promote the 2017 Rural Futures Institute Student Serviceship.

Jamie grew up in the rural town of Spencer in northeastern Nebraska. Her family owns a cattle backgrounding operation, has crop land across Boyd County and owns a cow/calf operation as well. Growing up on the farm and ranch taught her to work hard to reach her goals and that family is a very important piece of life.

Jamie has a passion for serving others and helping them reach their goals. She plans to use these passions in combination with her agribusiness major to become an agricultural loan officer in rural Nebraska.


MaciHunke
x

Maci Hunke

Student Intern
maci.hunke@unl.edu |

Maci Hunke is a freshman at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln.  She is from a small town in northeast Nebraska.  Maci enjoys spending her time with family, friends, or at sports events.


averysass_cropped
x

Avery Sass

Communications Intern
asass@nebraska.edu | 402-525-5330

Avery Sass is a senior studying Journalism with minors in Global Studies and English. Her role at RFI this semester is to create multimedia content on innovative leaders and communities throughout the state of Nebraska.

Sass grew up in Firth, Nebraska, on eight acres of land and wide open spaces. It wasn’t until she entered college at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln that she started to chase photography and journalism, and began to dream about how she could make a difference in the world. Sass started gaining more experience at UNL’s student newspaper, The Daily Nebraskan, and photojournalism classes within the journalism school. She was then accepted on two of UNL’s Global Eyewitness photojournalism programs to travel to Nicaragua and Nepal to create multimedia stories on poverty and culture. It was through these experiences that she found a fire and purpose in storytelling and multimedia.

Sass is passionate about photography and videography, connecting with others and discovering new places. She aspires to create documentary multimedia for an international nonprofit organization in the future.



Chuck_cropped

Chuck Schroeder
Founding Executive Director

Connie Reimers-Hild

Dr. Connie Reimers-Hild
Associate Executive Director & Chief Futurist

Katelyn_Cropped

Katelyn Ideus
Director of Communications & Public Relations

TheresaKlein_web

Theresa Klein
Rural Engagement & Executive Team

062013_Schnuelle_11RT810

Kayla Schnuelle
Leadership Engagement Director & Network Weaver

062013_Peterson_14RT810

Kim Peterson
Director of Competitive Awards & Finance

lauren

Lauren Simonsen
Creative Specialist

ShawnKaskie_crop

Shawn Kaskie
Fellows Program Coordinator

Aliese_Cropped

Aliese Hoffman
Administrative Specialist

140304_Cantrell_003RT810

Randolph Cantrell
Rural Sociologist

062013_Herpel_49RT810

Rachael Herpel
Assistant Director - DWFI

Jessica_Shoemaker

Jessica Shoemaker
Assistant Professor of Law

darla

Darla Heggem
Director of Development

JamieMashino_crop

Jamie Mashino
Student Intern

MaciHunke

Maci Hunke
Student Intern

averysass_cropped

Avery Sass
Communications Intern