NCRCRD Webinar: Assessment of Tribal Natural Resources Needs & Services

Assessment of Tribal Natural Resources Needs and Services: Transforming Governance, Management, and Sovereignty in the Upper Great Lakes

Jubin Cheruvelil, Michigan State University
July 18, 2016 | 3:00 PM Eastern Time

About the webinar:

Tribal communities are the stewards of vast rural areas in the Upper Great Lakes. Communities are responsible for the management of Tribal owned lands and the co-management of vast ceded and treatied territories. They face considerable challenges given the dependence on the natural and land resources juxtaposed with rapid environmental and economic changes taking place. Very little effort has been made to assess rural Tribal needs for resource management and governance. In order to understand these challenges, I employed interviews, inter-tribal surveys, and periodical and policy analysis to assess these roadblocks.

The alignment with federal standards also presents mismatches between Tribal and federal standards, regulations, and values of the environment. A better understanding of these mismatches and road blocks can provide a better road map for sovereign approaches that serves both short and long-term natural resources and community wellbeing in the Upper Great Lakes rural communities.

Presented by: Jubin J. Cheruvelil, Ph.D., Dr. Cheruvelil is an anthropologist and behavioral ecologist who studies role and relationships of Indigenous and marginalized communities and the use of natural resources and landscapes. Specifically, he is interested in the linkages between governance, livelihoods, and community well-being. He employs decision-making and critical theories, and mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) in his research. His overall research program explores three key themes 1) indigenous resource commons and policy, 2) Indigenous knowledge, behavior and well-being and 3) Indigenous landscape history and change.

Registration: There is no registration and no fee for attending this webinar.

To join the webinar go to, “enter as a guest” is by default already chosen. Type your name into the text box provided, and click on “Enter Room”. You are now in the meeting room for the webinar.

To facilitate Q&A’s, participants submit questions/comments via the Chat Function in Adobe Connect.

The webinar will be recorded and archived at

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North Central Regional Center for Rural Development
Michigan State University
Justin S. Morrill Hall of Agriculture
446 W. Circle Drive, Room 66
East Lansing, MI 48824

Young Leaders can Share talents with State

June 24, 2016 | Original Post

Last year’s Civic Health Index for Nebraska showed that millennials — people around age 30 and younger — are the least likely to volunteer, register to vote and show up to the polls, or contact public officials. The first-ever study of its type in Nebraska revealed that, as a state, we need to get our younger Nebraskans civically engaged.

Nebraska’s towns and cities thrive when their residents ask, “How can I help?”

The Civic Health Index report raised a red flag, but it also amplified the fact that young Nebraskans possess a wealth of untapped potential to powerfully strengthen their communities. How? By joining organizations that address basic community needs. Church groups, athletic leagues and chambers of commerce are great outlets for young people to put their strong backs and new ideas to work.

Young people have a slew of opportunities to boost the quality of life for themselves and their neighbors, grow our state’s economy and retain residents.

The University of Nebraska’s recently launched Rural Futures Institute understands and appreciates the potential effect civically involved millennial can have on the state, and for that reason, the institute is organizing a leadership summit for fall through the Connecting Young Nebraskans statewide network. CYN is building a network of 550-plus engaged young Nebraska professionals and is continuing to develop new relationships across the state.

The fall leadership event — 2016 Connecting Young Nebraskans Summit — will unfold under the theme, “Creating Life Balance!” The event will be Oct. 28 in York’s Holtus Convention Center. Keynoter Lisa Gunderson is certified to deliver reality-based leadership programs to audiences of all professional levels.

Gunderson will be just one of the engaging speakers who participants will hear. The summit also will offer interactive breakout sessions that will include Senior Gallup Researcher Shane Lopez presenting on the science of hope.

On the evening of Oct. 27, the day before the summit kicks off, mentalist and entertainer Arthur Fratelli will help early arrivals break the ice and begin networking for sessions on the following day.

For millennials looking for ideas and encouragement to be involved, the CYN event offers a lot of promise. Best of all, it’s geared to the people who, sooner than they realize, will be leading Nebraska into the future.

Marketing Rural Nebraska To New Residents

Marketing Rural Nebraska To New Residents

by Ariana Brocious, NET News

Many Nebraska small towns have been shrinking. A new effort combines modern marketing with old-fashioned community discussions to help reverse that trend.

“Even to maintain your size you need new faces, new people in the community,” said Cheryl Burkhart-Kriesel, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln extension specialist in Scottsbluff. “So we just haven’t kept up pace with bringing those new faces in.”

But not all counties saw losses. A few years ago, Burkhart-Kriesel studied 11 counties in Nebraska’s panhandle to find out what draws people to – and keeps them in – rural communities. Many people may want to move to – or back to – rural towns—for jobs, family and quality of life.

Burkhart-Kriesel said new residents are critical to grow and maintain vibrant communities. But she found one of the main ways new residents scope out potential places—through town web sites—may inadvertently be turning them away.

“When they would go to actually use the website as sort of a filter of where they might relocate, a lot of new residents couldn’t find the information they needed. So that got us thinking in terms of marketing, there’s some real concrete things communities can do,” Burkhart-Kriesel said.

Based on that panhandle research, Burkhart-Kriesel and others developed an extension program called Marketing Hometown America. Seven communities in North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska tested it in 2014.

“Marketing Hometown America is really about the community taking a look at itself and saying, what do we look like to new residents? And can we really showcase what we have to offer in this community a little better to that new resident who might be looking to relocate,” Burkhart-Kriesel said.

The extension program trains local residents to lead small discussions among community members, talking about what strengths their community has and how they could better highlight those. After several discussions, the various small groups share their findings with one another and decide on ways they can act. Ben Dutton, an extension educator in Red Willow County, is leading the effort in Nebraska’s southwest corner.

Community members gather at the Marketing Hometown America kick-off event in McCook. (Photo by Ariana Brocious, NET News)

“Ultimately what comes out of it is this laundry list of things that are good things in the community and then things that we might be able to improve, or things we’d like to have that might attract new people,” Dutton said.

From that list communities decide among themselves who will take on the projects—volunteers, city council, private business, or others. Dutton said they strive to involve more than the “usual suspects.”

“There are a lot of different groups that aren’t typically involved in community conversations. And so they’re not used to being asked,” Dutton said. “But most of the time they do really want to be a part of it, they just didn’t know how to get connected before.”

Neligh, a town of about 1500 in northeast Nebraska, was one of the Marketing Hometown America pilot communities. Neligh Economic Development Director Greg Ptacek said a strength of the program was its ability to include diverse perspectives.

“It wasn’t just the same 10 people that show up to every town hall meeting. It was 60 people who might not have normally given their input in a town hall meeting that actually allowed us to change some of the perceptions around Neligh,” Ptacek said. The main result of their program was a town rebranding effort focusing on Neligh’s high quality of life.

“Our brand had been previously just the drive-in and just the Neligh Mill. And what came out of this Marketing Hometown America, and what we found incredibly valuable, is that Neligh is a lot more,” Ptacek said.

That led to the creation of a series of videos (like the one above) on the town’s website that showcase what it has to offer. Ptacek said newcomers have told him the videos helped them decide to move there.

UNL Extension has funds to continue the program in other Nebraska communities, including Red Cloud, Broken Bow and McCook. At the McCook kickoff event a couple weeks ago, facilitators like Clark Bates were enthusiastic about the effort.

“I think there are a lot of things McCook has going for it that people don’t know about, even people who live in McCook and I would like to see this project bring some of those things to light,” Bates said.

McCook Economic Development Corporation Director Kirk Dixon said the program will help the town identify its assets.

“We want to understand what we do that’s so great that we don’t want to lose, and we want to figure out a way to creatively sustain that,” Dixon said. As someone who recently moved to McCook full-time from Washington D.C., Dixon understands the appeal of safe, economically and culturally strong rural communities to outsiders. And he said the timing couldn’t be better, because local leadership in McCook is ready for this kind of effort.

“It’s just uncanny how everyone seems to be lined up right now ready for growth, ready for change, and wanting to team together to do that,” Dixon said.

Creighton college student Peyton Stagemeyer grew up in McCook. At the kickoff event, he said he was recruited to join a discussion group focused on younger residents.

“I already love McCook and I always do my own kind of marketing down at Creighton cause people always ask me where I’m from,” Stagemeyer said. He’s in town for the summer working for his dad’s business, but not sure yet if he’ll move back after graduation.

“There’s not always like, a whole lot to do. Coming from Omaha, I guess you kind of notice that,” Stagemeyer said.

Young people commonly leave rural communities to pursue education, jobs and life experiences elsewhere. But recent USDA and census data found that more 30-year-olds are moving back to rural towns, often looking to raise their families in small towns. That, combined with recent increase in birth rates and economic growth, has dramatically slowed overall rural depopulation for the first time in five years.

Original Story Here »

Analysis: Internet Access — An Incomplete Promise

Analysis: Internet Access — An Incomplete Promise

By Frederick L. Pilot  |  Original Post on The Daily Yonder  |  June 1, 2016  |  Print article

The U.S. has failed to deliver on universal high-speed, wired Internet service. The consequences for America’s disconnected are a litany of troubles: economic decline population loss, less access to education, and poorer quality medical care. History is likely to judge us harshly.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is excerpted from a the report “Service Unavailable: America’s Telecommunications Crisis.”

The lack of broadband is a roadblock in the way of telemedicine for smaller communities.

The lack of broadband is a roadblock in the way of telemedicine for smaller communities.

A prime example of the highly detailed irregularity of landline Internet infrastructure is the case of Jesse Walser, who lives about 20 miles outside of Syracuse, New York, in the town of Pompey. With Time Warner Cable lines about a third of a mile down the road from his house, Walser nevertheless was told by the company that he’d have to pay more than $20,000 to connect his home its network.

Walser and many other Americans are victims of arbitrary redlining by incumbent telephone and cable companies. It’s difficult to make a credible argument that living a third of a mile from existing infrastructure puts a customer in the middle of nowhere, making it too expensive to extend service. Walser’s experience of living close to existing telecommunications infrastructure but not being able to get service is not unique. This situation has existed unchanged throughout much of the United States over the past decade and isn’t likely to change anytime soon without an aggressive plan to address this infrastructure deficit.

With their homes and small businesses lacking access to robust fiber Internet service, many American small business operators try to get by with mobile wireless service not intended to support businesses. Larry Korte is an example, trying to run his consulting business in Churchville, Virginia, on 4G cellular service. But since the service is essentially metered Internet, where users pay overage charges for exceeding bandwidth limits, Korte finds the service expensive and a poor value. “I go to the [cell phone provider] and say, ‘Well, we need 300 gigabytes a month. That would probably do it.’” Korte said. “They laugh at it, and tell me to go to the cable company.” But like many residents in Augusta County, Virginia, Korte’s home is unserved for cable.

Tennessee State Senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) wants to get better Internet access to about 800 homes in his district. He notes that Charter, Comcast, and AT&T told him that “it’s not profitable” to serve homes in that district, which covers parts of Hamilton and Bradley counties in southeast Tennessee. Some premises in southern Bradley County are less than a mile from Chattanooga’s municipal fiber service, leaving them with dial-up service and a slow connection speed. That leaves nursery operator Joyce Coltrin, like many unserved Americans, reliant on her smartphone for Internet access. “It’s very hard to use an iPhone for business,” said Coltrin, who heads a group of 160 households who call themselves “citizens striving to be part of the 21st century.”

Joanne Hovis, CEO of the national Coalition for Local Internet Choice, notes that mobile wireless Internet service provides just a fraction of what fiber can deliver with respect to speed, reliability, and capacity. “Because of data caps and usage-based pricing, it’s also very, very expensive for anyone who uses a lot of bandwidth, such as families who home-school and therefore require lots of online video,” Hovis complains. She adds that those who argue that people don’t need fiber infrastructure because they have DSL or wireless service “is like saying that the nation doesn’t need the Interstate highway system because we have the Santa Fe Trail.”

Regions Suffer Disparate Internet Infrastructure 

There are many communities in Virginia—largely in the central and southwest regions—where less than 55 percent of households have Internet connections. “We have some that are well-connected, we have some that are not so well connected,” said Virginia Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson. Given the lack of Internet access at home for many students, schools are opening after regular hours to fill the gap, Jackson said.

Internet infrastructure deficiencies also hurt higher education in Virginia. Rebecca Scheckler, an instructor at Radford University’s School of Nursing, notes her students who live in Pulaski County are required to take online courses, and those who work from home have limited Internet access. “We live in an underserved medical area,” Scheckler says. “I’ve had to advise well-qualified candidates to not go into the [nursing] program because they don’t have good Internet access.” In some regions, like California’s north coast, Internet cafes provide Internet access to consumers who cannot purchase it at home because no service is offered. Michael Nicholls, cochairman of Access Sonoma Broadband, supported the FCC’s adoption of regulations in early 2015 that subjects Internet service to the universal service mandate that has been in place for telephone service for decades.

Internet telecommunications is increasingly seen as being as vital to a region’s economic viability as other utilities, such electrical power. As knowledge work becomes more geographically independent, knowledge workers will need advanced telecommunications infrastructure at their doorsteps… That means fiber-optic connections offering symmetric upload and download speeds and scalability for future growth that is generally not offered by incumbent telco and cable companies.

America’s spotty, disparate Internet access is affecting where people choose to live—as well as where they choose not to live. In Door County, Wisconsin, [a peninsula in Lake Michigan] for example, it’s estimated that between 35 and 50 percent of residential premises have limited Internet access, and another 25 percent have no access. Door County Broadband CEO Kevin Voss says the lack of reliable Internet service makes the county an undesirable locale for people considering moving there.

A study by Broadband Communities magazine revealed a correlation between population trends and the robustness of telecommunications services. One of the publication’s editors, Steven Ross, conducted the research. He notes that the study’s findings correlate to a recent U.S. Commerce Department study that found for the first time in U.S. history, most rural counties lost population between 2010 and 2012.  (EDITOR’S NOTE: Rural population stabilized in the most recent report from the USDA Economic Research Service, which covered 2010 to 2015.)

The study suggests that U.S. settlement and land use patterns could strongly be influenced by the deployment of more robust telecommunications infrastructure in less populous areas of the nation—especially given the fact that much of today’s information and knowledge-based economic activity can take place most anywhere that infrastructure is available. This would balance out the distribution of economic activity that tends to concentrate in high-cost metro areas across a wider swath of the nation and help boost economic development in relatively less populated regions.

Deficient Internet telecommunications infrastructure in these areas of the nation lowers the ability of people to work remotely for distant employers and clients, of school children to access digital learning materials online, and of medical care professionals to interact with and monitor patients via telemedicine. Internet telecommunications is increasingly seen as being as vital to a region’s economic viability as other utilities, such electrical power. As knowledge work becomes more geographically independent, knowledge workers will need advanced telecommunications infrastructure at their doorsteps that can support videoconferencing and other interactive applications. That means fiber-optic connections offering symmetric upload and download speeds and scalability for future growth that is generally not offered by incumbent telco and cable companies.

In 2014, the Federation of State Medical Boards adopted a model policy designed to guide state medical boards in regulating the delivery of medical services remotely via telemedicine. That policy drew protest over its requirement that doctors and patients cannot rely exclusively on lower bandwidth applications such as texting, e-mail, and voice communications and instead must utilize higher bandwidth secure Internet videoconferencing. Opponents of the policy complained that the requirement wouldn’t be practical given Internet infrastructure gaps that don’t allow reliable video connections to patients in their homes.

The adverse impact of Internet access disparities on telemedicine was highlighted during an April 2015 hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Todd Rytting, chief technology officer of Panasonic of North America, testified that while providing Internet-based heartmonitoring services for elderly residents of the New York City area, his company found several places where there was no wired broadband, Wi-Fi, or strong mobile signals available. The SmartCare monitoring service significantly reduced the numbers of heart patients who had to return to the hospital, but “the biggest problem we faced was the lack of broadband to some of our citizens,” Rytting said. Some potential users of the service couldn’t get a broadband connection in “downtown New York City,” he added.

Telecom Infrastructure at an Inflection Point 

In 2015, the United States is at an uncomfortable inflection point where the line extensions of telephone and cable TV services to Internet service have gone about as far as they can within their business models, leaving millions of American homes and businesses without modern Internet service and no immediate prospect of getting it.

Driving much of the discomfort is the lack of a successor to these business models that cannot achieve universal Internet service in the new century in a timely manner. The legacy providers have also reached the limits of their “triple play” business models—offering bundles of Internet data, TV video, and voice service—due to the high costs of TV programming. This provides them little incentive to bring fiber connections to about a quarter of the nation’s homes and small businesses that have remained unserved by modern Internet infrastructure for nearly more than a decade and stuck with dial-up and satellite and, where available, fixed terrestrial wireless service.

The problem has worsened in the past decade as telephone companies have concentrated their infrastructure investments on mobile wireless services while all but ignoring their deteriorating landline cable plants. Much of the landline cable plants are in such poor condition that they can’t deliver any Internet connectivity or can do so only marginally at sluggish speeds.

One strategy for the telephone companies going forward is to sell off portions of their copper cable network assets to smaller players, such as AT&T and Verizon have done. However, in portions of these companies’ service territories where the decades-old copper cable plant is in poor condition and a fully depreciated asset, it’s questionable what value any buyer would see in such a deal. Consequently, these companies have put those assets into runoff mode while milking a declining residual cash flow from a shrinking legacy landline phone services customer base and those stuck with slow, firstgeneration DSL at serviceable premises.

History is likely to judge the United States very harshly in how it met its Internet telecommunications infrastructure challenge. If the nation and its leadership had engaged in proper planning and budgeting a generation ago for the construction of ubiquitous fiber to all American premises, by now, the nation would be fully fibered and reaping the complete promise and value of the Internet.

Instead, the previous two decades were squandered on inaction.

Fred Pilot is from California and writes the Eldo Telecom blog, which covers broadband accessibility and policy.

2016 RFI Competitive Awards


Proposals selected to receive funding include:

Facilitating the Implementation of Social Media Plans for Small Businesses
& Local Non-Profits through Service Learning at UNK

Sherri Harms (PI), University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) partnering with the Economic Development Council of Buffalo County, Nebraska.
Many rural Nebraska small businesses and non-profit organizations do not have the expertise or resources to implement social media plans, which can limit their organizational reach. This project will implement a service learning component to an existing course, where students work with organizations to develop and implement social media plans, in partnership with the Economic Development Council of Buffalo County.


Art at Cedar Point

Karen Kunc (PI), University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) partnering with the Ogallala Public School District, Nebraska Game and Parks, Lake McConaughy Visitor/Water Interpretive Center, Nebraska Art Teachers Association and the Petrified Wood Art Museum in Ogallala, Nebraska.
Art at Cedar Point is a transdisciplinary program which blends art and science through undergraduate field courses and artist residencies at Cedar Point Biological Station in western Nebraska. This innovative project will allow students to experience the unique ecosystems and communities of rural western Nebraska and showcase the potential for artists working in rural areas by developing the only Artist in Residence program in the region. 


Minority Health Disparities Initiative (MHDI): Youth Are Rural Health Program (YouRhealth)

Kim Matthews (PI), University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) partnering with Lexington High School, Sheldon Art Museum, UNK, UNMC College of Nursing, Lexington Regional Health Center and DHHS.
YouRhealth is a new innovative and bold initiative that creates a learning community that includes civic engagement by transforming Lexington High School’s (LHS) freshman health course into a rigorous visual literacy/critical thinking/community engagement environment. This project will implement the YouRhealth program that teaches freshman high school students to be community health educators by developing and presenting multimedia public health campaigns to their family and friends, as well as provide NU students civic engagement opportunities in a predominately minority community.


Understanding Hispanics and Sense of Community in Rural Nebraska

Athena Ramos (PI), University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) partnering with Platte County (Columbus) and Colfax County (Schuyler).
A mixed methods research study will be conducted within two Nebraska counties to better understand the assets and the challenges associated with being Hispanic/Latino in rural Nebraska. This project addresses community concerns that were identified during the 2015 East Central District comprehensive community health needs assessment. Six focus groups (three in each county) and a survey of at least 100 Hispanic/Latino individuals from each community will be conducted. A bilingual community report will be developed with community partners that includes actionable recommendations.


CEEM Project: A New Community Engagement Education Model

Kim Wilson (PI), University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) partnering with Nebraska Extension, the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship and various community partners including the Willa Cather Foundation, City of Red Cloud, Chamber of Commerce, and others.
Many semester-long service learning (SL) projects realize immediate impact on community partners and SL students, yet has not translated into long-term community impact. It is felt the short timeframe of the fifteen-week semester coupled with the partner’s limited capacity and infrastructure to act on recommendations diminishes long-term impact. This two-year process will evaluate the ability to strengthen partnerships and develop capacity for the region’s residents by going beyond the semester timeframe and including an expanded team that includes Nebraska Extension and community and professional experts and also extends the project timeframe over multiple years with participation of multiple studios of students.


Proposals selected to receive funding include:

Identifying the Interrelationships Between Social Determinants, Self-identity, and Public Health in Minority Rural Communities: Photovoice + Random Spatial Sampling Survey

Kirk Dombrowski (PI), Minority Health Disparities Initiative, Departments of Sociology, Nutrition & Health Sciences, Communications, Psychology and Sheldon Art Museum at UNL, partnering with DHHS and Two Rivers Public Health Department
The HealthVoiceVision transdisciplinary team will combine participatory research with traditional random spatial sampling survey to better understand minority health disparities in rural communities. The research results will translate into interventions, tools and data that communities can use to understand and address minority health disparities.


Enhancing Nebraska’s Ecotourism Industry

Richard Edwards (PI), Center for Great Plains Studies, with UNL, UNK, UNO, College of Law, Calamus Outfitters, and international connection with Namibia
Private-lands nature-based tourism can provide many benefits to stressed rural areas. This project will focus on international best practices in Namibia that can help Nebraska’s emerging ecotourism industry grow into world leaders in private-lands ecotourism.


Rural Prosperity Research Project

Chuck Hibberd (PI), Nebraska Extension, ALEC, NHRI, and College of Architecture at UNL, partnering with UNO, Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, Heartland Center for Leadership Development, Nebraska Community Foundation, and the Aspen Institute
This collaborative will build the capacity of a cohort of rural communities to effectively create conditions for a more prosperous future by: increasing economic opportunities through business creation; building up community assets that support a high quality of life; and attracting and keeping people to achieve demographic renewal. This project applies a systems approach designed to achieve systemic change.


Raising Awareness of Health Professionals Education Among Rural Nebraska Latino Youth

Patrik Johansson (PI), UNMC College of Public Health, with UNK, Nebraska Area Health Education Center (AHEC), and partnering with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska, Central Community College, Doane College, Grand Island Latino Leadership Group, Grand Island Senior High, St. Francis Hospital, and DHHS
Health professions shortages represent a challenge to the sustainability of rural communities. While there are insufficient rural health professionals in general, Latinos are virtually absent from this workforce. This study will develop strategies to raise awareness of health professions education among rural Nebraska Latino high school and college students, resulting in increased numbers of Latino youth who pursue health professions.



The RFI is also funding the following special project:

Collaborative Capacity Building in Rural Nebraska Schools via Technology

Amanda Witte (PI), and Susan Sheridan (co-PI) University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) partnering with rural schools and educators, and the Nebraska Department of Education.
There are long-standing barriers to services in rural communities including insufficient mental health services, cultural differences, and stigma that make access to treatment options for mental and behavioral issues a challenge for students in rural areas. This project will develop and evaluate highly accessible, effective and sustainable solutions for rural schools and families to increase access to mental health supports, address rural students’ mental and behavioral health challenges, and bolster academic success.
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