Green Infrastructure Webcast Series

Ahead of the Curve — Implementing Green Infrastructure in Rural and Growing Communities

Tuesday, December 8, 2015 | 1:00 – 2:30 pm EST | 12:00 – 1:30 pm CST

EPA’s Green Infrastructure program will host a webcast on Dec. 8, 2015 from 1-2:30 PM EST titled “Ahead of the Curve – Implementing Green Infrastructure in Rural and Growing Communities.” Green infrastructure is often framed as an approach to improving communities and addressing water quality in large urban areas, where high concentrations of impervious surfaces can result in large volumes of stormwater runoff. However, green infrastructure can also provide multiple benefits for small, growing communities and those in rural areas. This webcast will showcase two such communities, Monona, Iowa and Clarkesville, Georgia, that are ahead of the curve in using green infrastructure to address some of their stormwater management challenges. Rural communities and small MS4s in particular will want to tune in to learn how to replicate these projects at home.

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International Seminar and Webinar featuring Professor Richard Wakeford, Visiting Professor of Environment, Land Use and Rural Strategy, Birmingham City University in the United Kingdom.


In thinking about Nebraska’s rural future in an international context, are there research themes around rural development and land use where a region that is rich in land of different types might make a contribution of global significance? The world’s come a long way and drawn on lots of research, but there is more to explore! View Professor Wakeford’s presentation designed to explore the possibilities.

View Recorded Webinar »

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Webinar featuring Dr. Jim Cavaye, Associate Professor, The University of Queensland, Australia

Dr. Jim Cavaye, Associate Professor, The University of Queensland, Australia

Did you know that the youngest Nebraskans are consistently participating the least when it comes to civic engagement? The first-ever Civic Health Index for Nebraska shows that Millennials are the least likely of any age group to do things like volunteer, register to vote, show up to the polls, or contact public officials. However, the new report also shows that young Nebraskans have the potential to powerfully strengthen their communities.

Dr. Cavaye is an accomplished practitioner, educator and researcher in community development with 30 years’ experience working with rural and regional communities. He has assisted over 120 local communities across Australia and internationally with community appraisals, community engagement processes, community planning and economic development strategies.

View Recorded Webinar »


Enhance Health Network to join Nebraska Innovation Campus

Later this year, Enhance Health Network will join the Nebraska Innovation Campus team, according to a UNL news release.

The network, formerly known as RPN LLC, is a for-profit partnership corporation formed by nine Nebraska-based health care systems. The group of health care providers delivers patient-centered, value-based health care through shared services and clinical integration, according to a the UNL news release.

This sect of the NIC will provide “learning and demonstration laboratory opportunities for students, interns, startups and other academic and industry endeavors.” The network is already collaborating with the university’s Rural Futures Institute to address rural health issues.

“We expect this to be an important partnership for effective health care delivery in many communities serving rural constituents,” said Chuck Schroeder, executive director of the Rural Futures Institute, in the news release.

Michael Hein, the company’s president and CEO, said the network plans to be an active participant at Innovation Campus and will work to create funded research opportunities and to build a creative environment with the collaborations among the company and community members, which hopefully result in solutions to various health care challenges like providing services in under-served areas of Nebraska.

“NIC will accelerate our ability to deliver innovative health care solutions to our member communities and surrounding regions,” he said in the news release.

Dan Duncan, executive director of Nebraska Innovation Campus, said he’s looking forward to Enhance Health Network joining NIC.

“Their decision is further validation that our business plan is producing results and creating value for all Nebraskans,” Duncan said.

Posted November 11, 2015 by The Daily Nebraskan

Poster Competition Winners

Graduate Student Poster Competition Award Winners

Top Prize – $625 each

  • Joshua Fergen*, Anne Junod, Mary Emery, Across the 100th Meridian: Comparing Quality of Life in the Rural Cultures of the American West & Midwest, South Dakota State University
  • Felix Fernando*, Gary Goreham, A Tale of Two Rural Cities: Interaction of Community Capitals during a North Dakota Oil Boom, North Dakota State University

Honorable Mention – $250 each

  • Kate Heelan, Todd Bartee, Bryce Abbey, Marissa Bongers*, Outcomes of a Family-Based Obesity Treatment Program: Consumption of a Low-Fat Diet and Weight Loss, University of Nebraska Kearney
  • Nancy Qwynne Lackey*, Lisa Pennisi, Savanna seeds on prairie plains: Applying South African ecotourism guide training techniques to the Great Plains, University of Nebraska – Lincoln School of Natural Resources
  • Tyler Smith*, Susan M. Sheridan, Amanda Witte, Sonya Bhatia, Samantha Angell, Amanda Moen, Teachers and Parents as Partners in Rural Communities: Effects on Student Engagement and Attention, University of Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools

Undergraduate Poster Competition Award Winners

Top Prize – $300 each

  • Hannah Brenden*, Melissa Laughlin*, Morgan Netz, Lindsay Hastings, Themes of Successful Leadership Transfer within Rural Nebraskan Communities, University of Nebraska – Lincoln UCARE
  • Addison E. Fairchild*, Alexandria PytlikZillig*, Lisa M. PytlikZillig, Comparing Rural and Urban Trust Development, University of Nebraska Public Policy Center
  • Laura Gorecki, Finding a Beefy Niche in Rural Nebraska, University of Nebraska – Lincoln Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program
  • Kate Heelan, Callen Maupin*, Todd Bartee, Matthew Bice, Physical Fitness and Academic Performance, University of Nebraska – Kearney Undergraduate Research Fellows

Honorable Mention – $100 each

  • Sarah Schalm*, Kelsey Arends, and L.J. McElravy, Rural Civic Action Program: Nebraska City, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Dept of Agricultural Education, Leadership and Communications
  • Nathan Kathol*, Dana Fritz, Hartington: Revealing a Community’s Strengths,  University of Lincoln

Kearney Hub: Rural Futures Institute Executive Director Speaks on Hope for Rural Communities

KEARNEY — The Rural Futures Institute has no small goals, Executive Director Chuck Schroeder told Noon Rotary Club members Monday.

Its goals are big: being an internationally recognized leader in building the capacity and confidence of rural communities, he said.

“We’re talking about being the best in the world in Nebraska and addressing one of the most wicked problems facing the world today,” Schroeder said.

He explained that bringing about the success of rural communities is vital and how the institute plans to do it to counteract the wicked problem of rural stagnation.

“Rural matters,” said Schroeder. “Rural matters economically. It matters socially. It matters culturally. It matter environmentally to not only states like Nebraska but to the United States and the planet on which we live.”

Schroeder said six factors, researched by Lindsey Hastings of Nebraska Human Resources Institute, define a successful rural community. Hastings observed how rural communities moved leadership from one generation to another.

The six factors are:

  • Leadership that matters: Leaders in a community must actively say: “We’re not fine with where we are. Here’s where we’d like to go; let’s figure out the steps that will take us there.”
  • Hopeful vision backed by grit.
  • Deliberate efforts to invite others into leadership roles, including people who might not otherwise participate.
  • Not letting fear be a barrier.
  • Willingness to invest in community.
  • Strong social networks.

Success, Schroeder said, can only be built if there is a foundation of hope.

“When we talk about hope in this context, we’re not talking about ‘Keep a smile on your face and walk on the sunny side,” Schroeder said. “This isn’t a happy attitude deal. There is real science behind the hope that I am talking about.”

A keynote speaker at a recent RFI conference, Shane Lopez, Gallup senior scientist in residence and research director of the Clifton Strengths Institute, presented several principles of hope: people must believe that the future will be better than the present, that they have power to have an influence and that there are many paths to success but none are without obstacles.

In following those many paths to success, RFI works by three key principles.

First, RFI plans to help rural communities and regions by working with communities on issues they have already identified.

Second, the institute is addressing these issues by connecting partners, campuses and communities. It is working on 31 projects across 17 colleges and universities, 23 organizations, 12 government agencies, two companies and 113 communities.

These projects reach into areas such as economic development, leadership and civic engagement, community planning and marketing, health care, and the justice system.

The final principle is to strengthen intergenerational leadership and engagement in rural areas through programs such as Connecting Young Nebraskans and Rural Serviceship Program

“One thing we do know is it’s not the size of the population, not the proximity to the interstate or the economic mix in the community that matters,” Schroeder said. “What matters is leadership. It never fails. RFI is not in the business of trying to save every rural community in Nebraska, the country or the world. That cannot be done. We are in the business of finding those communities where there is a small cadre of leaders who have a sense of where they want to go and issues they want to address.

“When we can draw some resources around helping them, we know we can make a difference.”

Conference Panels at NCTA

EntrePanelDr. Scott Mickelsen, associate dean at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, introduced presenters and moderated several local sessions at the 2015 Rural Futures Conference held Oct. 22 on the NCTA campus and at Nebraska Innovation Campus in Lincoln.

A panel of rural entrepreneurs included, from left, Mickelsen, Ken Rahjes, Elwood, owner of Authentic Ag, Inc., and editor of electronic news organization,; Sarah Pinet, goat dairy owner and national award-winning cheesemaker of Victory Hill Farm, Scottsbluff; and Barry Fox, co-owner of several enterprises at Broken Bow, including Kinkaider Brewing Company, Diamond Express Car Wash, and Cobblestone Hotel and Suites.  The panel discussed positive aspects and challenges of starting a small business and energizing others in rural areas.

HStrio.editDr. Scott Mickelsen also hosted a discussion on agricultural workforce development with representatives of three high schools associated with NCTA’s dual credit programs. They included, from left, Dustin Favinger, counselor at Cozad Public Schools, Cindy Burton, counselor with Cambridge Public Schools, and Dean Tickle, superintendent with Elm Creek Public Schools.

Research News: Research Fair, NU FEWS & More

Latest Research News is ready to read online

Click the link below and start enjoying this issue of Research News from UNL’s Office of Research and Economic Development.
Read the full newsletter online »

Research Fair is Nov. 10-11

The fall UNL Research Fair Nov. 10-11 features sessions on enhancing research collaborations and competitiveness, information on state economic development programs and the grand opening events for the new regional Research Data Center, along with celebrations of faculty and postdoc achievements. Full Article »

NU FEWS aims to engage faculty campuswide

Generating new ideas and identifying interdisciplinary research teams focused on research at the intersection of food, energy and water systems is the goal of NU FEWS, a new campuswide initiative. Full Article »

Research Fair offers opportunities to celebrate, share ideas

November is suddenly upon us and with it comes my favorite week of the year fall UNL Research Fair week. Our Fall Research Fair starts Nov. 10 with the Faculty Recognition Breakfast, where I have the pleasure of bragging about your accomplishments. Following the breakfast we have two days of topics and speakers that offer something for everyone. Full Article »

Webinar: Characterizing Food Retail in Rural Northeast Michigan

The MSU Center for Regional Food Systems and the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition (based in Omaha, NE) have been conducting research into rural food access issues in Northeast Michigan (lower peninsula).  The area of the study is approximately 15 counties and runs  from Clare north on Highway 127 to the Mackinac Bridge, with the southern boundary running from Clare east to Tawas City.   We are finishing the report for this project soon.

We are planning a webinar on Tuesday November 24th from 2-3 pm EST to share a summary of our findings:

Characterizing food retail in rural northeast Michigan: Opportunities to improve healthy food access 

Courtney Pinard with the Gretchen Swanson Center in Omaha Nebraska, Chris Bardenhagen (MSU CSUS graduate student) and myself will be presenting and responding to questions. We will have the report completed and available through a website link by the time of the webinar.

If you are interested in participating in this webinar please RSVP at the link below.  We will be using Zoom technology for the webinar and will send you more information to connect to the webinar after you have RSVP’d.

RSVP Here »


CIRD Issues Request for Proposals

Funding and Design Assistance Available for Rural Communities

Citizen’s Institute on Rural DesignTM Issue Request for Proposals

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

View PDF

New York, NY— The Citizens’ Institute on Rural DesignTM (CIRD) has issued a request for proposals to rural communities interested in applying for funding to host a community design workshop in either 2016 or 2017.

The Citizens’ Institute on Rural DesignTM is a National Endowment for the Arts leadership initiative in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Project for Public Spaces, Inc., along with the Orton Family Foundation. CIRD provides communities access to the resources they need to convert their own good ideas into reality.

CIRD offers annual competitive funding to six small towns or rural communities to host a two-and-ahalf day community development and design workshop. With assistance from a wide range of design, planning, and creative placemaking professionals, the workshops are intended to bring together local leaders from non-profits, community organizations, and government agencies to develop actionable solutions to the communities’ pressing development challenges. The communities will receive additional support through webinars, conference calls, and web-based resources on

Design and development challenges include but are not limited to the following: Main Street revitalization, managing and shaping community growth, the design of community-supportive transportation systems, preservation of natural and historic landscapes and buildings, protecting working agricultural lands, and maximizing the role of arts and culture as an economic driver for local and regional economies. Since 1991 CIRD has convened more than 70 workshops in all regions of the country, empowering residents to leverage local assets today in order to build better places to live, work, and play in the future.

The deadline for submitting a proposal is Tuesday January 12, 2016 at 11:00 pm EST.

Successful applicants will receive a $10,000 stipend (that must be matched one-to-one) in addition to in-kind professional design expertise and technical assistance valued at $35,000. The Request for Proposals is posted on the CIRD website: Selected communities will be announced in March of 2016 and workshops will be held during the fall of 2016 through spring of 2017. CIRD staff will also offer two pre-application assistance webinars to answer questions and guide interested applicants in assembling their proposals. The first is scheduled for Tuesday November 10th, and the second will take place on Thursday, December 10th. Both calls will begin at 3:00 pm EST and last approximately one hour. Participation in each call is free but registration is required. To register visit:


Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts and the agency is celebrating this milestone with events and activities through September 2016. Go to to enjoy art stories from around the nation, peruse Facts & Figures, and check out the anniversary calendar.


USDA Rural Development administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $176 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Visit the USDA at


Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is a nonprofit planning, design, and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities. Founded in 1975, PPS has completed projects in over 2,500 communities and all 50 US states. PPS has become an internationally recognized center for resources, tools, and inspiration about placemaking. Visit PPS at


With its Community Heart & Soul™ method, the Orton Family Foundation empowers people to shape the future of their communities by improving local decision-making, creating a shared sense of belonging and ultimately strengthening the social, cultural and economic vibrancy of communities. The Foundation assists the residents of small cities and towns in the use of the Community Heart & Soul™ method, a barn-raising approach to community planning and development that invites residents to shape the future of their communities in ways that uphold the unique character of each place. For more information visit