RELEASE: Nebraska Communities Welcome NU Students For Strategic Projects, Service Learning

Rural Futures Institute Student Serviceship interns group photo

May 21, 2018 — Today 11 Nebraska communities are welcoming 24 students from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, University of Nebraska–Lincoln and University of Nebraska at Omaha as well as Peru State College to live, work and serve for 10 weeks this summer.

Communities include: Alliance, Neb., Broken Bow, Neb., Columbus, Neb., Cozad, Neb., McCook, Neb., Neligh, Neb., Norfolk, Neb., Red Cloud, Neb., and Seward, Neb., as well as communities of practice through Black Hills Energy and Omaha Land Bank Authority.

Organized through the Rural Futures Institute (RFI) at the University of Nebraska, RFI Student Serviceship connects current and future leaders and mentors in acts of service and strategic, future-focused projects that work toward a thriving rural future.

“We are proud to match the talents, perspectives and expertise of high-achieving students with the experience, dedication and knowledge of community leaders through this program,” said RFI Executive Director Chuck Schroeder. “Bringing students together with communities, and for several projects with researchers as well, is where we believe innovation can truly happen.

This program is possible thanks to the time and energy invested by the community host team members—thank you to all of our colleagues throughout the state for making this a rich and rewarding experience.”

The students participating in this year’s experience come from hometowns large and small — from Crofton, Neb., town of approximately 800, to Chennai, India, population 7 million. Students’ areas of study include agribusiness, disease and human health, exercise science, hospitality, political science, public administration and more. They also range from freshmen to graduate students, and each student pair was created to intentionally connect complementary skill sets and varying backgrounds and experiences.

In terms of communities and projects, students will problem-solve and create opportunities within the areas of housing, community recruitment, community planning, welcoming, economic development and more. They will participate and lead projects that will include strategic planning, event planning, assessment creation and analysis, visioning and marketing.

This year marks an important milestone in the growth of the program by more than doubling the total number of student and community participants. The reach beyond rural localities to communities of practice through partnership with the Omaha Land Bank Authority and Black Hills Energy is also new this year. Both of these partners aim to serve the entire state of Nebraska through their work this summer.

“I have interned in Washington, D.C., the past two summers, and I wanted to be in the field working with the people I am supporting in D.C.,” said Rhiannon Cobb, Omaha, Neb., native and sophomore political science and global studies major at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. “RFI provides such an amazing opportunity to not only work in making Nebraska a better state, but allows the development of rural Nebraska.

“Rural communities are the backbone of the U.S., specifically when looking at the economy. It is important to not only work towards supporting the economic development of rural communities but to work with them to gain the knowledge and equipment we need to have the most economic success and productivity possible.”

Community project details and student bios are available at ruralfutures.nebraska.edu/2018serviceship.

Host Communities, Lead Mentors & Students

Alliance, Neb.
Lead Mentor: Chelsie Herian, Executive Director, Box Butte Development Corporation

Haley Ehrke
University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Agribusiness
Hometown: Orleans, Neb.

Mirissa Scholting
University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Agricultural Education
Hometown: Louisville, Neb.

Black Hills Energy
Lead Mentor: Melissa Garcia, Program Manager, Black Hills Energy; RFI Community Innovation Fellow

Emily Coffey
University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Political Science
Hometown: Lincoln, Neb.

Broken Bow
Lead Mentor: Andrew Ambriz, Executive Director, Custer County’s Economic Development Corporation

Leanne Gamet
University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Agricultural & Environmental Sciences Communication
Hometown: Paxton, Neb.

Jessica Weeder
University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Agribusiness
Hometown: Albion, Neb.

Columbus
Lead Mentor: K.C. Belitz, President, Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce

Clayton Keller
University of Nebraska at Omaha, Public Administration
Hometown: Millersport, Ohio

Amber Ross
University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Agribusiness
Hometown: Callaway, Neb.

Cozad
Lead Mentor: Jennifer McKeone, Executive Director, Cozad Development Corporation

Christy Cooper
University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Agricultural Education
Hometown: Waverly, Neb.

Shelby Utech
University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Agricultural Economics
Hometown: Hubbard, Neb.

McCook (2 project teams)
Lead Mentor: Nate Bickford, Associate Professor of Biology, University of Nebraska at Kearney

Tyan Boyer
University of Nebraska at Kearney, Exercise Science
Hometown: Plainview, Neb.

Collin Fleecs
University of Nebraska at Kearney, Exercise Science
Hometown: Sutherland, Neb.

Bradley Schoch
University of Nebraska at Kearney, Exercise Science
Hometown: Marquette, Neb.

Lead Mentor: Carol Schlegel, Director, McCook / Red Willow County Tourism

Emily Frenzen
University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Agricultural & Environmental Sciences Communication
Hometown: Fullerton, Neb.

Sage Williams
University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Agricultural Education
Hometown: Eddyville, Neb.

Neligh
Lead Mentor: Gabriel Steinmeyer, Director of Economic Development, City of Neligh

Michayla Goedeken
University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Integrated Sciences
Hometown: Humphrey, Neb.

Rhiannon Cobb
University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Political Science & Global Studies
Hometown: Omaha, Neb.

Norfolk
Lead Mentor: Tammy Day, co-owner, Daycos, Inc.

Cheyenne Gerlach
University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Integrated Sciences
Hometown: DeWitt, Neb.

Samantha Guenther
University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Agricultural Education
Hometown: Crofton, Neb.

Omaha Land Bank Authority
Lead Mentor: Marty Barnhart, Executive Director, Omaha Municipal Land Bank

Sydney Armbruster
Peru State College, Disease & Human Health
Hometown: Falls City, Neb.

Kyle McGlade
University of Nebraska at Omaha, Public Administration
Hometown: Council Bluffs, Iowa

Red Cloud, Neb.
Lead Mentor: Jarrod McCartney, Heritage Tourism Development Director

Trenton Buhr
University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Political Science, Psychology & Classics
Hometown: Cortland, Neb.

Trevor Harlow
University of Nebraska at Omaha, Political Science & Environmental Studies
Hometown: Waterloo, Neb.

Seward
Lead Mentor: Jonathan Jank, President & CEO, Seward County Chamber & Development Partnership

Raghav Kidambi
University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Human Resource Management
Hometown: Chennai, India

Maddie Miller
University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Hospitality, Restaurant & Tourism Management
Hometown: Waverly, Neb.

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About the Rural Futures Institute
The Rural Futures Institute (RFI) at the University of Nebraska leverages the talents and research-based expertise from across the NU system on behalf of rural communities in Nebraska, the U.S. and around the world. Through a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, RFI encourages bold and futuristic approaches to address rural issues and opportunities. It works collaboratively with education, business, community, non-profit, government and foundation partners to empower rural communities and their leaders.
ruralfutures.nebraska.edu