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“Together, let us be creative in our thinking, collaborative in our work, resolute in our strategy and bold in our storytelling.”
Connie Reimers-Hild, Ph.D.
RFI Interim Executive Director & Chief Futurist
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We Believe

People have the capacity to shape their own futures.

Communities are not just localities, but also networked groups of individuals working together toward a common goal and shared purpose.

Leaders are known by their vision, ideas, energy, passion and engagement in collective action.

Entrepreneurs are individuals and communities that combine strategic foresight and grit to take action to reach their desired futures.

Diverse and inclusive leadership is needed to propel communities forward.

Our complex future requires mutual respect and collaboration between rural and urban regions and communities.

Our Mission

 


 

The Pulse of Rural



Articles & Releases

Dr. Reimers-Hild To Leave RFI 6/30 To Pursue Her Desired Future

May 7, 2019
To My Colleagues, My Friends Pursuing A Thriving Rural Future: What future do you want to create? This is the question the Rural Futures Institute (RFI) at the University of Nebraska has been asking individuals, businesses and communities during my …
Connie Reimers-Hild, Associate Executive Director & Chief Furturist, Rural Futures Institute

To My Colleagues, My Friends Pursuing A Thriving Rural Future:

What future do you want to create?

This is the question the Rural Futures Institute (RFI) at the University of Nebraska has been asking individuals, businesses and communities during my four years as Chief Futurist. Most recently, the Institute had to ask itself this question when faced with a budget cut and reorganization process. The road has not been easy; however, the small RFI team and its partners have risen through the transition to accomplish several incredible wins.

  • Recognition of the RFI Nexus as a way to co-create the future with rural people and places. We intentionally and openly use the nexus to partner with students, faculty and communities — of both place and practice  — to co-create the future. RFI has been invited to share this model with several universities focused on strategically strengthening their rural engagement efforts. It is an honor to be part of the team that has created a successful engagement model being recognized and adopted by other organizations.
  • Evolution of the RFI Student Serviceship program into the prestigious and transformational RFI Fellows model focused on inclusive leadership with the guidance and expertise of Dr. Helen Fagan as well as communications and branding under Katelyn Ideus.
  • A bold communications and brand strategy for the Institute, particularly the evolved Fellows model, under the leadership of Katelyn Ideus. Students, faculty and partners continue to come to the Rural Futures Institute for this expertise.
  • Collaboration with leaders is a cornerstone of success for RFI. Theresa Klein, RFI’s engagement lead, has been working with four communities to launch the 2019 Fellows pilot kicking off May 13, 2019. Our goal is to develop long-term relationships with community leaders and students, so we can better understand the needs and opportunities of our rural communities and leaders as well as future generations.
  • New records and milestones with faculty, students and communities who have elevated 50+ projects funded through RFI Competitive Awards, administered by Kim Peterson. For example, researchers at the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) and the University of Nebraska Medical Center used a Competitive Award from RFI to strengthen their Building Healthy Families program. The team recently received a $2.5 million grant from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention to reduce obesity in rural communities with a program they developed. Their award is one of the largest in the University’s history. It is also the largest research award in UNK’s history. This is only one of many Competitive Awards that supported innovative impacts for faculty, students ands communities.
  • Launch of the Nebraska Thriving Index, which is a tool designed to fill the gap in economic and quality of life data comparisons for rural regions. Partners creating this valuable index will provide practical tools for economic developers, local, elected and appointed officials, community leaders and others interested in economic and quality of life indicators in decision making and reporting.
  • Release of three seasons of the Rural Futures Podcast, which has established RFI as an expert in opportunities, trends and innovation in rural areas. Guests have included prolific researchers, international futurists, successful rural entrepreneurs and NU’s very own incredible students. Requests continue to come in to appear on the show from top government officials and leaders from all around the world.
  • Founding partner of the University of Nebraska SourceLink Resource Navigator, a tool designed to make finding entrepreneurship and business resources in Nebraska more seamless, thanks to Shawn Kaskie. Shawn serves both RFI and Nebraska Extension Community Vitality Initiative.
  • Connection of partners throughout Nebraska and the University with corporations like Microsoft and Apple and countries such as Japan and Australia all focused on serving and elevating rural communities.
  • Nebraska Extension’s adoption of RFI’s previous serviceship model for the University’s flood recovery efforts throughout the state this summer. Serviceship was originally created through a partnership with faculty members from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln through RFI Competitive Awards.

Working with the RFI team, including many incredible students, has been both an honor and a privilege. I am amazed by the dedication of this team, especially when faced with prolonged adversity. Our University and our state is fortunate to have such committed people working for a thriving rural future.

In my 25 years at the University of Nebraska, I have seen the amazing transformation of students, colleagues, leaders, businesses and communities. The privilege of doing this work has resulted in the opportunity to teach more than 25,000 learners, coach hundreds of high-level leaders and deliver countless keynotes and workshops. I’ve authored or co-authored 55 publications, 10 workbooks, four books and one book chapter as well as created and hosted an internationally recognized podcast. These resources have been utilized by tens of thousands of people, many of whom I have never met, in more than 175 countries in what now is global classroom. It is my hope that I have helped, in some small way, transform the future for colleagues, friends, stakeholders and learners —  not only through the scholarship that has resulted from my work — but from the connections and transformations that people have chosen to create for themselves. I am so excited to see what the next 25 years brings!

Now, it is my turn to transform.

RFI boldly believes we have the capacity to shape our own futures, and so do I. It is time for me to focus on cultivating my desired future by growing Wild Innovation, a strategic foresight and coaching firm I founded to help leaders better understand the future and strengthen their capacity to shape it. My executive leadership experience at RFI has provided me with the knowledge and tools needed to expand my business offerings into the future of work with a focus on leadership that truly fosters gender equity and female empowerment. I am excited to continue my personal mission focused on helping people achieve their desired futures.

This decision has not been easy. My family has enjoyed living in rural Nebraska for several generations, and we plan on making this a home for future generations to enjoy. As a wife, mother, daughter, sister and aunt raising children and enjoying relatives who live throughout our great state, I care deeply about both the present and future of Nebraska.  

Nebraska can be the place of choice for people, businesses and families well into the future. It is an abundant state with amazing people and rich resources. Thanks to all who have been part of my life and career. I look forward to continuing great work, partnerships and collaborations in Nebraska and beyond!

Here’s to the future,

Connie Reimers-Hild, Ph.D.
Interim Executive Director & Chief Futurist
Rural Futures Institute
University of Nebraska

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Katy Bagniewski Shares Bold Voice on Podcast Season 3 Finale

May 1, 2019
  May 1, 2019 — “I think that rural is a social justice issue,” said Katy Bagniewski, a senior studying agricultural and environmental sciences communication at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL). Originally from a rural hobby farm outside of Rochester, …
 

May 1, 2019 — “I think that rural is a social justice issue,” said Katy Bagniewski, a senior studying agricultural and environmental sciences communication at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL).

Originally from a rural hobby farm outside of Rochester, Minn., Bagniewski found her way to the University of Nebraska when in town for a sheep show. For the past two years, she has worked at RFI as a storytelling intern, the production specialist of the podcast and the host of the Bold Voices student segment.

Bagniewski went on the other side of the microphone during the Bold Voices student segment of the Rural Futures Podcast Season 3 Finale at 13:27. The podcast, “Rural Futures with Dr. Connie,” is available on iTunesStitcherSoundCloudGooglePlay and Spotify.

“I really care about elevating voices and telling stories for causes that I care about,” she said. Aside from rural issues, some of these causes include mental health, social justice and female empowerment.

Her experience at RFI has opened her eyes to the challenges and opportunities in rural communities. “I’ve really become passionate about rural places since coming to Nebraska and starting at RFI,” she said.

Rural issues, she said, are social justice issues. “Rural needs to be funded and championed, and we need to be here to tell all the stories of the people and opportunities within it,” she added.

“I’m very thankful for the University of Nebraska and the role that they’ve ended up playing in my life,” she said. She said she’s thankful for the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) and the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication (ALEC) for facilitating a collaborative environment of students in her classes to solve grand challenges like food security and teach young people to communicate about the future of those issues.

She shared her advice for college students, which included preventing burnout, recognizing your own value and prioritizing your mental health and happiness.

Bagniewski will be staying in Lincoln, Neb., following her graduation on May 4, 2019, to pursue multimedia communications and freelance videography. “There is truly no place like Nebraska,” she added.

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About the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska

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

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Episode 30: Rural maverick Janet Palmtag intersects product development, risk, housing

April 30, 2019
      Janet Palmtag, an entrepreneur and rural maverick from Southeast Nebraska, is our featured guest this week. A real estate broker, Janet shares her insights into the rural housing crisis. She also shares her insights into bringing a …

     

Janet Palmtag, an entrepreneur and rural maverick from Southeast Nebraska, is our featured guest this week. A real estate broker, Janet shares her insights into the rural housing crisis. She also shares her insights into bringing a product to market thanks to her recent creation of TubTool, a cleaning device for bathtubs and showers. Janet has been a leader and volunteer throughout her community for several years, so she tells it like it is when it comes to leadership from a company and community perspective.

“I’m confident that the leadership role will change in the future, as well. Because, it really is about people being engaged and empowered.”
Janet Palmtag

About Janet

    

Janet Palmtag is the founder of J.J. Palmtag, Inc. a real estate company, as well as Tubtool, LLC, a Nebraska start-up. She was born and raised in Nebraska and proudly serves her community and state through volunteerism. Janet describes herself as a futurist and learner who knows nothing can be done without a strong, diverse team. She thrives on collaboration. Janet enjoys reading, biking, hiking, writing and bee keeping. She also loves to listen to podcasts when walking. We sure hope she listens to this episode of Rural Futures with Dr. Connie!

Mentioned In This Episode

  • Rural Impact Hub        
  • Nebraska Rural Living        
  • Nebraska Rural Renaissance    

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Bold Voices Student Segment

Katy Bagniewski, a senior studying agricultural and environmental sciences communication at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) — Listen at 13:27!

Originally from a rural hobby farm outside of Rochester, Minn., Bagniewski found her way to the University of Nebraska when in town for a sheep show.

For the past two years, she has worked at RFI as a storytelling intern, the production specialist of the podcast and the host of the Bold Voices student segment.

Her experience at RFI has opened her eyes to the challenges and opportunities in rural communities. “I’ve really become passionate about rural places since coming to Nebraska and starting at RFI,” she said.

She will be staying in Lincoln, Neb., following her graduation on May 4, 2019, to pursue multimedia communications and freelance videography. “There is truly no place like Nebraska,” she added.

Read the full Bold Voices release!»

 

Show Notes

Coming soon!

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UNO Student Regent joins Rural Futures Podcast Episode 29 as Bold Voice

April 24, 2019
  April 24, 2019 — “My leadership philosophy is to always lead by example and to not see yourself as higher than anyone else,” said Renata Valquier Chavez, a third-year biotechnology and political science student at the University of Nebraska …
 

April 24, 2019 — “My leadership philosophy is to always lead by example and to not see yourself as higher than anyone else,” said Renata Valquier Chavez, a third-year biotechnology and political science student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO).

Originally from Sidney, Iowa, Valquier Chavez moved to Elkhorn, Neb., during high school and decided to stay in Omaha, Neb., for her college experience. She is a member of the UNO Honors Program and a student-athlete on the UNO cross country and track team, and she spent the past year as the student body president and the student regent at UNO.

Valquier Chavez shared her University of Nebraska experience during the Bold Voices student segment of the Rural Futures Podcast Episode 29 at 22:51. The weekly podcast, “Rural Futures with Dr. Connie,” debuts every Tuesday, featuring a University of Nebraska student within a primary interview of a researcher, futurist or rural maverick creating leadership, technology and collaborative opportunities for rural communities across the country. This episode features Amy Webb, an award-winning author and professor of strategic foresight at the New York University Stern School of Business, and it is available across listening platforms — iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloudGoogle Play and Spotify.

“I think UNO is an absolutely spectacular university,” she said. “My vision for our future students is to have the sense of pride to be at the university that they are at, regardless of which campus it is within the University of Nebraska.”

Valquier Chavez believes that teamwork is crucial to her success as UNO Student Regent and Student Body President, as well as an honors student and a student-athlete. “I believe that it’s a group effort wherever it is that you’re leading, whether it’s on the cross country team or within student government,” she said.

“The point of being a leader is to inspire others to do things they think are right,” she said. “I see myself in this position to encourage my colleagues to go after tough projects and to tackle controversial issues,” she continued.

She shared her advice for college students, which included time management, living intentionally and finding joy. “I think it’s so important to remember that you’re doing this all by choice,” she said.

“When you’re in an elected position, you’re not doing it for yourself,” she said. “You are in a position to serve others,” she added.

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About the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska 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

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