RFI Hosts Regional Forums

The University of Nebraska’s Rural Futures Institute will host a series of regional forums this fall aimed at showcasing success stories in Nebraska communities and sharing outcomes of RFI-funded projects that are serving the people of the state.


Registration is now open for the forums, which will take place on Sept. 30 at the Steinhart Lodge at the Lied Lodge and Conference Center in Nebraska City; Oct. 9 at the Convention Center at the Cobblestone Hotel and Suites in Broken Bow; and Oct. 14 at the Hampton Inn and Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Scottsbluff.


The day-long forums begin at 10:30 a.m. and conclude at 7 p.m. Registration is $25, which covers all activities, lunch and evening appetizers. The forums are open to the public, and attendees are encouraged to come prepared to discuss their goals for their regions of the state and ideas on how the Rural Futures Institute can partner with communities to achieve those goals.


“The Rural Futures Institute exists for the benefit of the state. Our goal is to help ensure a strong economy and high quality of life in rural communities across Nebraska and beyond,” said Chuck Schroeder, founding executive director of the Rural Futures Institute. “If we’re to be successful, we need to continually communicate with our most important stakeholders – Nebraska citizens whose energy, creativity and leadership is vital to our state’s future. These regional forums are a way to continue our dialogue with Nebraskans about how we can work together to ensure a strong future for all citizens. I can’t wait to hear their input and ideas.”


The regional forums will focus on growing economies, energized leadership and vibrant communities. At each forum, attendees will have the opportunity to hear from local leaders about what they are doing to enhance business growth and downtown redevelopment, expand educational opportunities, and increase the quality of life for all generations, including youth and young adults. Forums will conclude with a town hall dialog about what participants want to see for the future of their regions and explore collaborative opportunities to reach those desired futures.


Schroeder noted that the forums will provide valuable direction on future programming and funding opportunities within the Rural Futures Institute.


The forums also will spotlight some of the grant-funded projects supported by the Rural Futures Institute. The past two years, faculty from across the University of Nebraska, together with partners around the state, and even across state lines, are pursuing about two dozen projects funded by the RFI focusing on topics critical to rural people and communities, including the shortage of mental health providers in rural areas, workforce development in rural communities, rural leadership and engagement, and health and nutrition.


Visit ruralfutures.nebraska.edu/conference to register. For more information, contact the Rural Futures Institute at ruralfutures@nebraska.edu or (402) 472-9287.


The Rural Futures Institute was approved by the Board of Regents in 2012. A conference the following year attracted over 500 attendees who helped shape the institute’s goals, and in December, Schroeder, a Nebraska native, began his tenure as founding executive director following a national search. Another National Rural Futures Conference is planned for fall 2015.

Connecting Young Nebraskans Summit

Registration is now open for the 2014 CYN Summit!

Young leaders from Kearney, Hastings and Grand Island are coming together to create a dynamic conference for young leaders across the state of Nebraska. On November 7th, young Nebraskans from across the state will gather for the 2014 CYN Summit in Kearney to share ideas, energize each other and envision a brighter future for our state.

The logistics of the event are coordinated by representatives of the Rural Futures Institute and a local summit planning team comprised of young leaders from the Kearney, Hastings, and Grand Island communities. “Young leaders from the tri-cities are excited to join forces to offer the state a dynamic conference, centered on professional and personal development,” says Mary Berlie of Grand Island, a member of the summit planning team.

“I’m so pleased to be working with the tri-city region to plan this event. In years past, the summit planning teams have been confined to a small geographic region, but this year the tri-city region has come together to collaboratively plan what I expect to be an amazing event. This collaborative mindset will serve the region and state well in the future.” says Kayla Schnuelle, CYN coordinator and Marketing Communications Specialist for the University of Nebraska Rural Futures Institute.

“The programming at the summit will provide valuable take home information for the attendees and priceless networking with engaged individuals across the state. The relationships created will be beneficial for a lifetime! What’s better than sharing best practices with your friends and neighbors? I think we all win when we work together for the greater good of Nebraskans,” says Penny Parker, summit planning team member.

Keynote speaker, Joe Gerstandt, will encourage summit attendees to put the power of authenticity, divergent thinking, and constructive conflict to work to unleash creativity and innovation in Nebraska communities and organizations.

The summit’s sessions introduce attendees to new ideas and experiences, which helps to broaden young leaders’ perspectives. One session will allow participants to experience living with limited resources, followed by a conversation about addressing poverty and food insecurity issues in the state of Nebraska.

Attendees will walk away with relationships, resources, and tools to grow professionally, personally, and as a civic and community leader. In creating new ideas through CYN, attendees are able to understand and respect differences while working towards a unified goal of becoming a great state to live and work.

The CYN Summit is the annual gathering for the Connecting Young Nebraskans network, which is sponsored in part by the University of Nebraska Rural Futures Institute. Connecting Young Nebraskans (CYN) is designed to connect, empower and retain young Nebraskans. CYN strives to enhance opportunities for individuals to impact their communities through networking and learning experiences. The network is a dynamic and diverse group of peers with a passion for making a difference, a willingness to learn and the desire to build important relationships to help shape the future of Nebraska.


Join young leaders in Nebraska for the 2014 CYN Summit by registering at ruralfutures.nebraska.edu/cyn-summit.