2013 RFC Concurrent Sessions

Building Vibrant Communities Through Entrepreneurship
Rural community stakeholders, practitioners, students, and faculty will explore the many ways entrepreneurship can positively affect the future of rural communities. Participants will have the opportunity to share ideas about how the Rural Futures Institute, Extension and other university/higher education programs can collaborate with rural communities to build an entrepreneurial culture within businesses, organizations and communities. Innovative approaches will be shared along with updates provided from funded proposals in the first round of RFI grants.


The Essential Conversation: Linking Communities and Higher Education
This interactive session will challenge rural community stakeholders, practitioners, faculty, and students to be creative in designing synergistic partnerships that address unmet community needs. Participants will be asked to reflect on various models used for community organizing and for developing trusting partnerships. Best practices from students, faculty, and communities participating in the first round of the RFI Teaching & Engagement grants will also be shared. Participants will contemplate “big” questions throughout the session regarding the identification of community needs and communication challenges, as well as defining the roles and functions of partnerships and boundary issues.


Governing the Land: Maximizing Rural Places Locally and Globally
Are rural lands being used to their best potential? How do government, law, and policy influence landowner decisions about optimal and sustainable land use? This highly interactive session will incorporate the expertise and experiences of scholars from abroad, including work from the international Office of Economic Cooperation and Development’s Rural Working Group, as well as regional experts on topics ranging from energy development to water concerns and land use planning to natural resource management. International, federal, state, and tribal jurisdictions will all be considered, and audience members will have the opportunity to play a game we are calling Plainsopoly that encourages participants to explore and develop a vision for the future of rural lands.


Innovative Approaches to Rural Health
Healthy individuals and communities are essential for rural Nebraska to be resilient and successful. Valuing current health promoting practices, envisioning what could be better, and creating new strategies for improving health outcomes for rural people and places will be the focus of this session. Rural practitioners will share their innovative approaches to improving health outcomes in their communities, thought leaders will envision what may be just over the horizon, and participants will engage in an exercise to explore innovative ideas that address the complex rural health opportunities and challenges of the future.


Building on the ideas and strengths of those in the room, this session will encourage new ways of thinking around the “brain drain” phenomenon. There is no doubt that integrating youth (8-35 years old) into the basic workings of rural communities is integral to positive rural futures, but it is also important to listen to young leaders who are working to create a vision for the future. Together, conference participants will have a conversation about how the RFI and its partners can attract, retain and develop young leaders in rural areas and provide them opportunities, from a young age, to assume major leadership roles in building stronger rural futures.


The Rural Commons
Utilizing open space technology, conference participants will have the ability to set the agenda of this session. Through participant-generated and participant-led conversations, conference participants will discuss topics and complexities not specifically addressed elsewhere in the conference agenda. This interactive process generates communication, collaboration, innovation, and other solutions to challenges around themes or issues identified by conference participants.