Reinventing Pilger

Community visions for rebuilding Pilger were sketched out at a town hall meeting in late September, 2014. Small group discussions focused on ideas to replace community infrastructure, businesses and civic buildings after a June 16 tornado destroyed much of the town.

Leading a special task force gathered to direct ideas for rebuilding the town were Joe Ferguson of Norfolk, plus representatives from the University of Nebraska along with other state-wide non-profits. The Rural Futures Institute acted in response to the community driven request and the RFI assisted in convening additional University expertise to help the community envision their desired future.

During the evening, those on hand met in small groups to discuss what they saw as priorities for the Pilger community. After an establishment of key priorities, task forces were formed to determine next steps to make the priorities a reality.

“We think what’s happening here is a demonstration of what happens when small groups meet with hope and vision,” said Chuck Schroeder. “When they’re confronted with difficult circumstances, they are almost certain to succeed. They arise above devastating destruction and demonstrate that the human spirit is more powerful than the circumstance.”

Rural Community Serviceship Program

In a captivating video see how groups of students are making real world changes in rural communities. This video showcases a unique RFI grant program developed out of a partnership between Tom Field, Director of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship program, the UNL Office of Student Involvement, the Center of Civic Engagement, the Heartland Center for Leadership Development, the Nebraska Human Resources Institute (NHRI) and the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR).

Through this partnership, a 3-week summer course has been developed followed by an 8-week summer internship. Students are sent to communities in pairs to live, work, and play in their assigned community for the duration of the program. The results, as you can see in this video, have been outstanding, and have opened student’s eyes to the dreams and ambitions of the community. It has also allowed for community residents to see their region in a new way, through the eyes of a college student.