Terri Haynes

RFI Community Innovation Fellow – Chadron, Neb.
AWARE
Project Manager

What do you hope to gain from your experience as an RFI Community Innovation Fellow?

Strategies for cultural understanding.

Why do you think it is important for students to have ths type of experience in a rural community?

Rural in itself is another culture.

Why does now provide tremendous opportunity to move rural communities forward?

Rural communities must collaborate resources constantly. Our resources are limited, so we must partner with other people, organizations, businesses, etc. This has the benefit of promoting connections within our lives. Connections and relationships enhance all of our lives.



Hailey Walmsley

Hailey Walmsley RFI Student Fellow

RFI Student Fellow – Custer County, Neb.
Agricultural Education
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Hometown: Norfolk, Neb.

Why are rural communities important to the future of our country? 

Rural communities are the back bone of our country. They are often overlooked as isolated, or unimportant, but in reality, they are working harder than ever. Rural communities are filled with entrepreneurs and goal oriented individuals. Growing up on a farm in between a rural and urban community, I got to see both sides of the spectrum. Last summer, I had the opportunity to be an agronomy intern at my local cooperative, Farmer’s Pride. Farmers Pride has multiple locations across northeast Nebraska and I got to jump around to see how each location operated based on the community needs. I loved visiting with the different producers all around northeast Nebraska. It was a great experience getting to know all the community members and hear about the different ways they were involved in their community other than just farming. One large customer for example, wasn’t just a farm but also a school board member. He was activity involved in many aspects of the community and this was a common trend with many of the producers.

What do you hope to gain?

I hope to gain some insight into how I work on a team and how I can improve my leadership potential.

Why do you think it important students have this type of experience in terms of inclusive leadership development?

I think inclusive leadership is something students will use not only throughout college, but also into their future career. Allowing myself to practice inclusive leadership in this way now, will set me up for a great future of being the best leader I can be.

Why is it important students give back to our state?

Nebraska, in my opinion, is one of the greatest states, full of genuine, hardworking individuals and communities. This is a state I am proud to call home and I want to make sure it is thriving. Serving as a RFI fellow allows me to give back and oversee the continuous growth of our state.

Why does now provide tremendous opportunity to move rural communities forward?

Rural communities are the backbone of our country. They are often overlooked as isolated, or unimportant, but in reality, they are working harder than ever. Rural communities are filled with entrepreneurs and goal-oriented individuals.


Fellows Week 9: Custer County

July 19, 2019
Hailey Walmsley and Megan Coan are still hard at work as they fulfill their internship duties in Custer County. Last week their team was fortunate enough to add two new members, Alyssa Beltran from Columbus, Nebraska and Angela Ehler from …

Hailey Walmsley and Megan Coan are still hard at work as they fulfill their internship duties in Custer County. Last week their team was fortunate enough to add two new members, Alyssa Beltran from Columbus, Nebraska and Angela Ehler from Elkhorn,Nebraska. With the new team members coming on board, some project restructuring has been done. The four interns now have 8 total projects and 3 weeks left to complete them.

Hailey and Megan are wrapping up their time in Arnold and Callaway. Over the course of the summer in Callaway, Hailey and Megan discovered, through a community wide survey, there was a lack of recreational opportunities in the area, especially for young adults. Last week they facilitated a focus group with 25-40 year olds living in Callaway to dive deeper into the recreational desires of the community. The group came to a consensus that the community would utilize a walking trail. Hailey and Megan are assisting with determining the steps on how to make this dream a reality. Once the steps are determined, they will hand the information over to Carla Kimball, Callaway’s Economic Developer. They hope to come back in a few years and see the progress on this project!

Hailey has been working to create some blog stories of people in Custer County, coming up with ideas to fill a vacant building in town, and helping revamp the curriculum for Youth Leadership in Custer County (YLCC). She considers having Angela and Alyssa on board as a blessing. She loves having more brain power in the office to help come up with some really unique ideas to complete the projects. Megan is working on creating a Custer County passport, continuing to connect the interns from other businesses in Custer County, and looking at the possibility of starting a dog park in Broken Bow. Hailey and Megan continue to work together on planning the Barn’s 10th year celebration.

This week Hailey and Megan are completing some volunteer hours helping with Custer County 4-H. The 4-H organization is near and dear to both of their hearts since it’s something they both grew up participating in. They will be helping by assisting with some of the static exhibit judges and getting all the projects ready to be displayed at the fair next weekend.

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RFI Fellows Helping AEDC Move Forward With Projects

July 16, 2019
Check out our Custer County fellows Megan and Hailey in The Arnold Sentinel! “In this job, I get to work on projects that play toward my strengths and interests. We aren’t just typical interns who come in and sit at …

Check out our Custer County fellows Megan and Hailey in The Arnold Sentinel!

“In this job, I get to work on projects that play toward my strengths and interests. We aren’t just typical interns who come in and sit at a desk all day filing paperwork or doing the job no one wants to do. We have a lot more responsibilities than traditional interns because we are challenged with finding a project, and seeing that project start to finish,” said Hailey

UN-L agricultural student interns Megan Coan (left) and Hailey Walmsley (right) are in Arnold once a week through the end of July to help the Arnold Economic Development Corporation with some big projects. The girls are also serving as interns in Broken Bow and Callaway.”
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Custer County Instagram Takeover

July 10, 2019
The Custer County fellows Megan and Hailey took over the Rural Futures Instagram story on 06/12/2019 to show you a day in the life of a Custer County fellow. They went on a road trip around Custer County!

The Custer County fellows Megan and Hailey took over the Rural Futures Instagram story on 06/12/2019 to show you a day in the life of a Custer County fellow. They went on a road trip around Custer County!

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Fellows Week 4: Custer County

June 14, 2019
Hailey and Megan are both loving their experience in Custer County so far! They are working on a variety of projects over the course of their time in Custer County. Although they are staying in Broken Bow, they aren’t just …

Hailey and Megan are both loving their experience in Custer County so far! They are working on a variety of projects over the course of their time in Custer County. Although they are staying in Broken Bow, they aren’t just working on projects there. The two of them will be working on projects in Arnold and Callaway as well.

Megan’s first project that she is focusing on is an “Intern Connection” project that will bring all of the interns within Broken Bow closer together to help them have a sense of belonging to the community. The first event that will bring all of the interns together will be June 20th. This event will be taking place along with the “Third Thursday on the Square” in Broken Bow that has live music, food, games, and fun for all ages.

Additionally, she is working on creating a Custer County passport. The purpose of this passport is to bring awareness to the hidden gemstones that each community in Custer County has to offer. She has spent her time touring Custer County’s communities to see what each community has that makes it unique and special compared to the communities within the county.

The final project that she is focusing on for Broken Bow is “The Barn.” The Barn is the visitor center for Broken Bow and is apart of the Sandhills Scenic Byway. Her goal is to increase awareness, create more events, generate revenue and drive more traffic to The Barn.

Hailey is working individually on two projects, the first is taking new pictures to market the community. The pictures of many of the buildings and events throughout Custer County are outdated. Hailey will be taking pictures of many of the main areas and attracts in Custer County.

For Hailey’s second project, she is working with a local nonprofit called Capable.

Capable runs a year-long program called Youth Leadership in Custer County (YLCC) for high school students throughout Custer County. Hailey is helping to rework the structure of the program to shift to a design thinking and entrepreneurship perspective.

Together the two of them are working side by side in Callaway and Arnold. In Callaway, they are currently interviewing business owners as well as community members to assess their needs. After collecting their data, they will evaluate it and move forward with what is the

greatest need in the community. In Arnold, they are working on business and housing improvement/development. They are assisting in evaluating the current state of houses/business in order to qualify for federal assistance from the government to improve the community.

Some events that they have gotten to experience in their few weeks in Custer County include Market on the Square, various ribbon cuttings, and the Muddy Creek Festival in Ansley. The Market on the Square takes place every Thursday from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm. The ribbon cuttings served as a great opportunity for the two individuals to meet key stakeholders in the community and the county. By attending the ribbon cuttings, they got the opportunity to get connected with the journalist at the Custer County Chief where she interviewed the two of them.

As Hailey and Megan have interacted with numerous community members over the past few weeks, there was one quote in particular that stood out to both of them, “Be open to what we don’t know.” After hearing that quote it put life into a different perspective for the two RFI fellows. The first time Megan and Hailey went through each community, they had the opportunity to meet community members and business owners. Nearly every person they met told them how happy they were for two to be in community, and couldn’t wait to see the work they did. This was a very eye-opening experience for the two, they got to see they weren’t just impacting the community, but also the people in it.

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Bhargav Vemulapalli

RFI Student Fellow – Chadron, Neb.
Neuroscience
Washington University
Hometown: Skillman, N.J.

Why are rural communities important to the future of our country? 

Rural communities have been the bedrock of our country since its inception. However, over the last three centuries, these communities have been finding themselves increasingly marginalized from the mainstream American economy. With the recent booms in high-tech industries, our country is poised to experience a generational change in the economy as more rural manufacturing and agricultural jobs fall victim to the rising tide of automation. Unfortunately though, the fruits of this economic transition will not be shared equally amongst everyone and rural communities could continue to receive the short end of the stick with these frenetic changes in our economy.

I believe what has been lost in these recent economic developments is the core American value of solidarity that has unified us for centuries. The mainstream economy has come to view rural communities as a burden and an obstacle to its own ends rather than the potential reservoir of strength that could be. By connecting these communities to the rural centers and by developing the communities to be self-sustainable players in our economy, I believe that we can create a better tomorrow for everyone and not just the rural communities that we focus our efforts on. We need to form a seamless transition between rural and urban communities that is mutually beneficial and will help incorporate these communities to the changing, modern economy.

In recent years, rural communities have been struggling with a host of challenges, including an increase in crime, drug use, childhood poverty, and widespread obesity. Even with the step forward that was the Affordable Care Act, which offered more Americans with health insurance than ever before, our neighbors in rural America lack access to this care because of the great distances they need to travel to a doctor and get treated. And it is this general lack of access that lies at the crux of these many challenges that rural America faces, a lack of access that I cannot help but empathize with because of my own identity as the son of two immigrants who spent all of their childhood and adolescent years on farms in rural India (and personally growing up in a historically rural town in central New Jersey). I hope that through the community development projects that I will have the privilege of partaking in as a part of the Rural Futures Institute program, I could help shrink the gap between the current economic capacity of rural communities and the demands of the modern, technologically-advanced economy and, as a result, help create a brighter and more inclusive future for everyone as we progress through this generational change in our economy.

What do you hope to gain?

Although I have engaged in a lot of community service throughout high school and college, I have never had the opportunity to work in a leadership capacity in a community. Through this program, I hope to learn about the meticulousness, diligence, and personal accountability that local community leaders need in order to reach their goals.

Why do you think it important students have this type of experience in terms of inclusive leadership development?

I feel that one of the most important qualities of a leader is to know when to be the teacher and when to be the student. No one has an in-depth knowledge about everything and there is always so much to learn that could help you develop as an individual and a citizen in your community. I think this experience is going to be great for us because it will constantly be emphasizing to us the importance of being receptive to community feedback and of always striving to keep learning because there is always room for improvement.

Why do you think it is important for students have this type of experience in a rural community?

Rural communities are among the few communities in the United States that maintain their everyday commitment to the traditional American value of solidarity. As a result, I feel that there is a lot we can all learn from these rural communities, such as the dutifulness and selflessness that the locals show towards each other everyday.

Why does now provide tremendous opportunity to move rural communities forward? What are some of your ideas to move these smaller communities forward?

Now is a tremendous opportunity to move rural communities forward because many of them have been looking for ways to become more involved in the rapidly-changing, present economy and right now is the best time to make that happen!


Chadron Instagram Takeover

July 10, 2019
The Charon fellows took over the Rural Futures Instagram story 06/25/2019! Watch as Beth, Vasu and Bhargav meet with the principle of Chadron middle school about how to communicate more effectively to parents, preform science experiments at Science Camp and …

The Charon fellows took over the Rural Futures Instagram story 06/25/2019! Watch as Beth, Vasu and Bhargav meet with the principle of Chadron middle school about how to communicate more effectively to parents, preform science experiments at Science Camp and visit Western Community Health Resources where they will be helping out with an immunization clinic by spreading information about mental health awareness!

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Fellows Week 6: Chadron

June 28, 2019
By Beth, Vasundhara, Bhargav Here in Chadron we have been full force with our projects. The Bean Broker has continued to be one of our go to places to work on our projects. We have thoroughly gone through the SHAPE …

By Beth, Vasundhara, Bhargav

Here in Chadron we have been full force with our projects. The Bean Broker has continued to be one of our go to places to work on our projects. We have thoroughly gone through the SHAPE Assessment to identify gaps, and now most of our time has been spent working on resource mapping to find the mental health providers available to Chadron and beginning to bridge partnerships between the providers and Chadron Public Schools. We have gotten to know more about the school system and how it operates by going to School Board Meetings and meeting various teachers through our helping out with different camps offered to elementary students. 

            Vasu, our third intern, has also moved in and has jumped right in offering suggestions and helping us to accomplish our goals! She has been a great teammate to have and has given ideas to help promote with tourism in the town. 

            Bhargav and Vasu have been helping with Science Camp at the intermediate school with 3rdand 4thgraders. They have planned an experiment with the students to electroplate a quarter. Beth has been working with the Art Camp at the primary school with kindergarten through 2ndgraders. All three of us plan on helping with Drama Camp, The Little Mermaid is the show, in the next coming weeks. 

            Our partnership with Western Community Health Resources led to us helping with their Respite Day at Fort Robinson this past Saturday. We worked in teams with a small group of kids to ensure that they had a great time. We went on horseback rides, swimming, and on a jeep adventure through the surrounding buttes.

            Some local artists have been working on sprucing up the downtown area by creating murals in the alleyway. There have been two different weekends dedicated to this. They incorporate children in the area by having children come and paint by number to help paint the murals. We were able to help out one afternoon, priming the area for the students the next day. 

            Some of our upcoming excursionsinclude us taking a trip to Scottsbluff to meeting with Region 1 Behavior Health, Panhandle Partnership, and ESU 13 to see their role in the Panhandle and how we can use what they do to bridge gaps here in Chadron. We are also going to be helping Fur Trade Days and Bands on Bordeaux, a weekly event where community members see bands preform downtown. In July, we will give a presentation to the Rotary about what we have been doing with our time in Chadron and how we can and need to end the stigma around mental health. Along with these projects, we are also helping with the Immunization Clinics at Western Community Health Resources by giving out information in regards to mental health and the help that is available in the area. 

            We look forward to our next month in Chadron and all of the upcoming events! 

We were able to visit a farm and milk a cow! The fresh cow milk was delicious and Wayne and Mary were lovely hosts! 

A beautiful picture of C-Hill and the entrance to Chadron State College.

Art Alley Before the children came to paint

 Final Mural for Art Alley

A beautiful view from the jeep ride up the buttes at Fort Robinson

Science Camp

Respite Days at Fort Robinson

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Fellows Week 2: Chadron

May 31, 2019
Written by Vasundhara Balraj, Bhargav Vemulapalli and Elizabeth Schott Chadron continues to defy our expectations every day. When we arrived last week, we did not know what to expect – we knew little about our assigned town other than the …

Written by Vasundhara Balraj, Bhargav Vemulapalli and Elizabeth Schott

Chadron continues to defy our expectations every day. When we arrived last week, we did not know what to expect – we knew little about our assigned town other than the Bean Broker coffeehouse and C-Hill. Despite the odds being stacked against Chadron, it’s amazing to see what this town has been able to accomplish.

   During our first week in Chadron, we visited all the local public schools – the elementary, intermediate, middle, and high school – in order to meet the people that we will be working with for the next several months. As soon as we arrived, we recognized this unique pride and love for the local community that we had never witnessed before. For example, despite Chadron Public Schools being classified as a Title 1 school district, the district consistently ranks among the best in the state. In fact, when we met Mr. Jerry Mack, the principle of Chadron High School, he couldn’t help but brag how his school district is only ranked behind the elite districts of Eastern Nebraska (e.g., Elkhorn). Furthermore, he demonstrated to us the unique didactic philosophy that makes Chadron Public Schools set such a high standard of excellence for the rest of the Nebraskan Panhandle – a philosophy which is predicated on providing the teachers with almost unlimited autonomy in their teaching methods, allowing them to use trial-and-error to find what is most suitable for their students. For example, he showed us two classrooms: one with the lights on maximum brightness and another with the lights dimmed. In the dimmed-light classroom, the students were dramatically quieter and were paying much better attention to their teacher, confirming the teacher’s prediction that dimmed-light conditions would promote a more productive learning environment for the students. In the future, we are really looking forward to working with the public-school district and we continue to be inspired by its underdog mentality every day.

   We also were introduced to the staff at Western Community Health Resources (WCHR), a public health office of Chadron Community Hospital. WCHR provides mental health and occupational services to the whole Nebraska panhandle and its personnel are constantly on the move across different communities. In our mission to improve the accessibility of community mental health resources for the public-school district, we will be working with WCHR a lot in the future and will continue to rely on them for advice on how to best tackle the gaps in mental health services that we will eventually identify in the public-school district.

   During our first week in Chadron, we established many of the connections that will help us with the main objective of our service – to identify gaps in the pre-K-12 mental/behavioral health services offered in the public-school district. During our second week, we are familiarizing ourselves with the SHAPE system, which will allow us to identify these gaps in mental/behavioral health services. In the next few weeks, we will be working with the school mental health providers to determine what specifically is contributing to the identified gaps in mental/behavioral health services and coming up with proposals for how to tackle these challenges using the evidence-based practices provided in the SHAPE system.

We attended an event at the Bean Broker where representatives from Net Radio (Nebraska’s PBS & NPR Stations). The radio stations usually just cover stories from Eastern Nebraska but have recently increased their efforts in covering stories from the Panhandle region. This will be a nice way to increase Chadron’s publicity across the state!

We were invited to attend the high school assembly where it was revealed to the students that one of their beloved history teachers was awarded with the state history teacher of the year award. Mr. Sandstrom is now in contention for the national history teacher of the award, which will be presented in a few months in Washington D.C.

We attended a meeting with Chadron’s transportation committee. The residents of Chadron and the students at Chadron State College encounter many problems when trying to get around the town and to/from the airport due to the lack of public transportation offerings. As a result, this task force has been assembled to address this issue and we look forward to working with them in the future!

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Elizabeth Schott

RFI Student Fellow – Chadron, Neb.
Elementary Education, Early Childhood Inclusive
University of Nebraska at Kearney
Hometown: St. Libory, Neb.

Why are rural communities important to the future of our country? 

Being from a rural area, I know the importance of a rural community. I grew up in a town of roughly 250 people. With watermelon being our main crop, we always had a constant strain of people stopping by from the neighboring ‘cities’ to purchase the crops that they could not grow themselves. Our rural areas are a main contribution to our food supply and economy. Without the farmer, we would have to look to other countries for our supply of foods and other necessities, such as clothing and ethanol.

Rural areas are also a key part of the essence of America. When I think of America, I think of the cities that populate our land, but also of the vast areas that are inhibited by crops and farm animals. I love a good road trip, and my destination is almost always a city, but without those rural areas to stop along my journey, I know I would not make it to my destination. I always love to see the people who live in the rural areas. Their true grit and perseverance shows. That grit and perseverance is what keeps our country going through tough times.

What do you hope to gain?

From this experience I hope to gain a better understanding of the needs and hardships that rural communities go through and how to help these communities.

Why do you think it important students have this type of experience in terms of inclusive leadership development?

This experience is important to students, so they have better leadership skills that will help them them through their careers. Being a future teacher, my experiences through this program will help me to be a better leader and an all around better teacher.

Why is it important students give back to our state?

I think many people often forget about rural communities. Having this experience will help people to become advocates for rural communities and help the the rural communities gain equal access to things that people coming from more urban areas have.

Rural communities of Nebraska are a crucial part of the world. We produce a large amount of beef and corn for the world. Students who understand this and see it first hand will be better advocates for these communities and help our state to continue to have a large impact on the world.

Why does now provide tremendous opportunity to move rural communities forward?

I think to help move the rural communities forward, we to have people advocate for them, both within the rural community and those who live outside. Reminding people the impact that these communities have on not just our state but the world will help to move the communities forward.


Chadron Instagram Takeover

July 10, 2019
The Charon fellows took over the Rural Futures Instagram story 06/25/2019! Watch as Beth, Vasu and Bhargav meet with the principle of Chadron middle school about how to communicate more effectively to parents, preform science experiments at Science Camp and …

The Charon fellows took over the Rural Futures Instagram story 06/25/2019! Watch as Beth, Vasu and Bhargav meet with the principle of Chadron middle school about how to communicate more effectively to parents, preform science experiments at Science Camp and visit Western Community Health Resources where they will be helping out with an immunization clinic by spreading information about mental health awareness!

View

Fellows Week 6: Chadron

June 28, 2019
By Beth, Vasundhara, Bhargav Here in Chadron we have been full force with our projects. The Bean Broker has continued to be one of our go to places to work on our projects. We have thoroughly gone through the SHAPE …

By Beth, Vasundhara, Bhargav

Here in Chadron we have been full force with our projects. The Bean Broker has continued to be one of our go to places to work on our projects. We have thoroughly gone through the SHAPE Assessment to identify gaps, and now most of our time has been spent working on resource mapping to find the mental health providers available to Chadron and beginning to bridge partnerships between the providers and Chadron Public Schools. We have gotten to know more about the school system and how it operates by going to School Board Meetings and meeting various teachers through our helping out with different camps offered to elementary students. 

            Vasu, our third intern, has also moved in and has jumped right in offering suggestions and helping us to accomplish our goals! She has been a great teammate to have and has given ideas to help promote with tourism in the town. 

            Bhargav and Vasu have been helping with Science Camp at the intermediate school with 3rdand 4thgraders. They have planned an experiment with the students to electroplate a quarter. Beth has been working with the Art Camp at the primary school with kindergarten through 2ndgraders. All three of us plan on helping with Drama Camp, The Little Mermaid is the show, in the next coming weeks. 

            Our partnership with Western Community Health Resources led to us helping with their Respite Day at Fort Robinson this past Saturday. We worked in teams with a small group of kids to ensure that they had a great time. We went on horseback rides, swimming, and on a jeep adventure through the surrounding buttes.

            Some local artists have been working on sprucing up the downtown area by creating murals in the alleyway. There have been two different weekends dedicated to this. They incorporate children in the area by having children come and paint by number to help paint the murals. We were able to help out one afternoon, priming the area for the students the next day. 

            Some of our upcoming excursionsinclude us taking a trip to Scottsbluff to meeting with Region 1 Behavior Health, Panhandle Partnership, and ESU 13 to see their role in the Panhandle and how we can use what they do to bridge gaps here in Chadron. We are also going to be helping Fur Trade Days and Bands on Bordeaux, a weekly event where community members see bands preform downtown. In July, we will give a presentation to the Rotary about what we have been doing with our time in Chadron and how we can and need to end the stigma around mental health. Along with these projects, we are also helping with the Immunization Clinics at Western Community Health Resources by giving out information in regards to mental health and the help that is available in the area. 

            We look forward to our next month in Chadron and all of the upcoming events! 

We were able to visit a farm and milk a cow! The fresh cow milk was delicious and Wayne and Mary were lovely hosts! 

A beautiful picture of C-Hill and the entrance to Chadron State College.

Art Alley Before the children came to paint

 Final Mural for Art Alley

A beautiful view from the jeep ride up the buttes at Fort Robinson

Science Camp

Respite Days at Fort Robinson

View

Fellows Week 2: Chadron

May 31, 2019
Written by Vasundhara Balraj, Bhargav Vemulapalli and Elizabeth Schott Chadron continues to defy our expectations every day. When we arrived last week, we did not know what to expect – we knew little about our assigned town other than the …

Written by Vasundhara Balraj, Bhargav Vemulapalli and Elizabeth Schott

Chadron continues to defy our expectations every day. When we arrived last week, we did not know what to expect – we knew little about our assigned town other than the Bean Broker coffeehouse and C-Hill. Despite the odds being stacked against Chadron, it’s amazing to see what this town has been able to accomplish.

   During our first week in Chadron, we visited all the local public schools – the elementary, intermediate, middle, and high school – in order to meet the people that we will be working with for the next several months. As soon as we arrived, we recognized this unique pride and love for the local community that we had never witnessed before. For example, despite Chadron Public Schools being classified as a Title 1 school district, the district consistently ranks among the best in the state. In fact, when we met Mr. Jerry Mack, the principle of Chadron High School, he couldn’t help but brag how his school district is only ranked behind the elite districts of Eastern Nebraska (e.g., Elkhorn). Furthermore, he demonstrated to us the unique didactic philosophy that makes Chadron Public Schools set such a high standard of excellence for the rest of the Nebraskan Panhandle – a philosophy which is predicated on providing the teachers with almost unlimited autonomy in their teaching methods, allowing them to use trial-and-error to find what is most suitable for their students. For example, he showed us two classrooms: one with the lights on maximum brightness and another with the lights dimmed. In the dimmed-light classroom, the students were dramatically quieter and were paying much better attention to their teacher, confirming the teacher’s prediction that dimmed-light conditions would promote a more productive learning environment for the students. In the future, we are really looking forward to working with the public-school district and we continue to be inspired by its underdog mentality every day.

   We also were introduced to the staff at Western Community Health Resources (WCHR), a public health office of Chadron Community Hospital. WCHR provides mental health and occupational services to the whole Nebraska panhandle and its personnel are constantly on the move across different communities. In our mission to improve the accessibility of community mental health resources for the public-school district, we will be working with WCHR a lot in the future and will continue to rely on them for advice on how to best tackle the gaps in mental health services that we will eventually identify in the public-school district.

   During our first week in Chadron, we established many of the connections that will help us with the main objective of our service – to identify gaps in the pre-K-12 mental/behavioral health services offered in the public-school district. During our second week, we are familiarizing ourselves with the SHAPE system, which will allow us to identify these gaps in mental/behavioral health services. In the next few weeks, we will be working with the school mental health providers to determine what specifically is contributing to the identified gaps in mental/behavioral health services and coming up with proposals for how to tackle these challenges using the evidence-based practices provided in the SHAPE system.

We attended an event at the Bean Broker where representatives from Net Radio (Nebraska’s PBS & NPR Stations). The radio stations usually just cover stories from Eastern Nebraska but have recently increased their efforts in covering stories from the Panhandle region. This will be a nice way to increase Chadron’s publicity across the state!

We were invited to attend the high school assembly where it was revealed to the students that one of their beloved history teachers was awarded with the state history teacher of the year award. Mr. Sandstrom is now in contention for the national history teacher of the award, which will be presented in a few months in Washington D.C.

We attended a meeting with Chadron’s transportation committee. The residents of Chadron and the students at Chadron State College encounter many problems when trying to get around the town and to/from the airport due to the lack of public transportation offerings. As a result, this task force has been assembled to address this issue and we look forward to working with them in the future!

View


Rin Le

Rin Le 2019 RFI Student Fellow - Communications

RFI Student Fellow – RFI Communications
Graduate Student
Architecture
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Hometown: Lincoln, Neb.

Why are rural communities important to the future of our country? 

Rural is the most traditional way of living before transitioning to high industrial communities. It is good to know and learn it well, so everyone in the community can thrive. In today’s time most people who came from high industrial communities are not very knowledgeable about rural communities, which affects the giving back aspect.

What do you hope to gain?

Expand networking and professional relationships

Why do you think it important students have this type of experience in terms of inclusive leadership development?

So that everyone can be on the same page and create comfort within interactions of the work place. A separate topic that is required to be knowledgeable about other than work topic.

Why is it important students give back to our state?

Because our state is a rural community, which needs the help of as many people as possible.

Why does now provide tremendous opportunity to move rural communities forward?

Many rural communities that come together can grow faster and can be more efficient overall.


Fellows Week 7: RFI Comm

July 3, 2019
The RFI comm team has been busy these last few weeks! As a team, they’ve been reading the book Brand Thinking by Debbie Millman and thinking about their own personal brands. They’ve all been preparing content and designs for the …

The RFI comm team has been busy these last few weeks! As a team, they’ve been reading the book Brand Thinking by Debbie Millman and thinking about their own personal brands. They’ve all been preparing content and designs for the upcoming final presentations from the student fellows on August 8th! 

Sydney, the social media guru, has implemented Instagram story takeovers for the fellows! The plan is for fellows to take over the Instagram story for a day to give a little peek into their daily lives as fellows. So far, each of the stories have been receiving over 100 views per post! Sydney is also working hard preparing the invitations and thank you letters to the final presentations.

Tristan has been working on planning and storyboarding out the 2019 fellows summary video. The video concept changed shapes many times but with the helpful guidance of Katelyn, they’ve worked out which direction to take the video. He has also traveled to all four of the communities the student fellows are working in this summer to meet up and talk about what they’ve done so far. One of Tristan’s other main tasks he’s been doing is mastering his drone flying skills and taking video with it. 

Rin has been working on an array of things these past weeks, such as creating invitation cards for the RFI final presentation, making a welcome graphic for our new interim executive director and sending promotional RFI sponsorship items to Chandron, NE to help support the community. The team has also been noticing that the end is near for these community projects. Therefore, Rin will be helping to plan the aesthetic deliverables for the final pitch with the rest of the fellows in the next couple of weeks. 

Our book for our RFI book club!

The invitations we’ve worked hard on designing!

Co-work(out)ers! Had lots of fun at Power Cycle in Lincoln!

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Fellows Week 1: RFI Strategic Communications

May 24, 2019
Written by Rin Le, Sydney Burdick and Tristan Powell This past week the RFI Fellows for strategic communications have been working to prepare for the upcoming summer! Tristan Powell is storyboarding four videos to communicate how the University of Nebraska …

Written by Rin Le, Sydney Burdick and Tristan Powell

This past week the RFI Fellows for strategic communications have been working to prepare for the upcoming summer!

Tristan Powell is storyboarding four videos to communicate how the University of Nebraska is working through the Rural Futures Institute to elevate the rural economy. He’s working with RFI Student Fellows in rural Nebraska communities to find the best approach for visually representing the work being accomplished this summer. Tristan is also planning road trips throughout Nebraska to capture rural cityscapes with a video drone.

“I’ve learned just how much potential there is for rural to get their story out to more people and how I can help in that process,” Tristan said.

Sydney Burdick is RFI’s social media guru. She is pushing out all of the Fellows’ press releases on RFI’s platforms, which include Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Her goal throughout this year is to inform RFI audiences about rural challenges and opportunities, as well as keep the audiences up-to-date about what is going on in the 2019 fellows communities.

“RFI has given me new perspective on social media as well as rural areas,” Sydney said. “It’s eye opening to see how much impact we have on rural areas, and not just in Nebraska.”

Rin Le, a graduate student in the College of Architecture, has been learning and getting familiar with RFI visual thematics. In order to produce visual representation of an organization, he needs to be able to understand what the color palette is and how the RFI logo comes into play with the composition of a graphic as a whole. Rin’s task is to recreate the community experiences and translate them into visual image to be presented in the 2019 RFI Fellows campaign.

“The academy helped me realized that we as a community are dependent on each other despite our differences whether that may be cultural or perspective,” Rin said.

Fun video from RFI Student Fellows – RFI Strategic Communications 2019

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Tristan Powell

RFI Student Fellow – RFI Communications
Broadcasting
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Hometown: Lincoln, Neb.

What do you hope to gain as an RFI Student Fellow focused on communications?

I hope to gain a broader perspective on my surroundings and with the people in my community.

Why do you think it important students have this type of experience in terms of inclusive leadership development?

I think it is very important for students, especially in Nebraska, to have this experience because they may of never been exposed or had brought to their attention how to interact with groups outside their own. This will only increase the level of acceptance and understanding in our community leading to a stronger Nebraska.

Why is it important students give back to our state?

Rural communities are continuing to shrink but the main way these communities see growth is with immigrants moving in. Rural communities have been known to be more unexciting of immigrants making them a perfect place for student to learn the benefits of changing that.

Nebraska has given us as students an amazing foundation to grow upon and if we hope to continue the amazing strength that is Nebraska for future generations then we must keep putting back into what we learn.

Why does now provide tremendous opportunity to move rural communities forward?

Now is a great time to move rural communities forward because the next generation of entrepreneurs are entering the workforce, and if we can show them what rural communities have to offer then we can strengthen rural communities. Some of my ideas include showcasing rural artists to bring urban people to their town, bringing together more farmers to put on a big farmers market and creating a maker space in rural areas for makers to come together and share ideas.


Fellows Week 7: RFI Comm

July 3, 2019
The RFI comm team has been busy these last few weeks! As a team, they’ve been reading the book Brand Thinking by Debbie Millman and thinking about their own personal brands. They’ve all been preparing content and designs for the …

The RFI comm team has been busy these last few weeks! As a team, they’ve been reading the book Brand Thinking by Debbie Millman and thinking about their own personal brands. They’ve all been preparing content and designs for the upcoming final presentations from the student fellows on August 8th! 

Sydney, the social media guru, has implemented Instagram story takeovers for the fellows! The plan is for fellows to take over the Instagram story for a day to give a little peek into their daily lives as fellows. So far, each of the stories have been receiving over 100 views per post! Sydney is also working hard preparing the invitations and thank you letters to the final presentations.

Tristan has been working on planning and storyboarding out the 2019 fellows summary video. The video concept changed shapes many times but with the helpful guidance of Katelyn, they’ve worked out which direction to take the video. He has also traveled to all four of the communities the student fellows are working in this summer to meet up and talk about what they’ve done so far. One of Tristan’s other main tasks he’s been doing is mastering his drone flying skills and taking video with it. 

Rin has been working on an array of things these past weeks, such as creating invitation cards for the RFI final presentation, making a welcome graphic for our new interim executive director and sending promotional RFI sponsorship items to Chandron, NE to help support the community. The team has also been noticing that the end is near for these community projects. Therefore, Rin will be helping to plan the aesthetic deliverables for the final pitch with the rest of the fellows in the next couple of weeks. 

Our book for our RFI book club!

The invitations we’ve worked hard on designing!

Co-work(out)ers! Had lots of fun at Power Cycle in Lincoln!

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Fellows Week 1: RFI Strategic Communications

May 24, 2019
Written by Rin Le, Sydney Burdick and Tristan Powell This past week the RFI Fellows for strategic communications have been working to prepare for the upcoming summer! Tristan Powell is storyboarding four videos to communicate how the University of Nebraska …

Written by Rin Le, Sydney Burdick and Tristan Powell

This past week the RFI Fellows for strategic communications have been working to prepare for the upcoming summer!

Tristan Powell is storyboarding four videos to communicate how the University of Nebraska is working through the Rural Futures Institute to elevate the rural economy. He’s working with RFI Student Fellows in rural Nebraska communities to find the best approach for visually representing the work being accomplished this summer. Tristan is also planning road trips throughout Nebraska to capture rural cityscapes with a video drone.

“I’ve learned just how much potential there is for rural to get their story out to more people and how I can help in that process,” Tristan said.

Sydney Burdick is RFI’s social media guru. She is pushing out all of the Fellows’ press releases on RFI’s platforms, which include Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Her goal throughout this year is to inform RFI audiences about rural challenges and opportunities, as well as keep the audiences up-to-date about what is going on in the 2019 fellows communities.

“RFI has given me new perspective on social media as well as rural areas,” Sydney said. “It’s eye opening to see how much impact we have on rural areas, and not just in Nebraska.”

Rin Le, a graduate student in the College of Architecture, has been learning and getting familiar with RFI visual thematics. In order to produce visual representation of an organization, he needs to be able to understand what the color palette is and how the RFI logo comes into play with the composition of a graphic as a whole. Rin’s task is to recreate the community experiences and translate them into visual image to be presented in the 2019 RFI Fellows campaign.

“The academy helped me realized that we as a community are dependent on each other despite our differences whether that may be cultural or perspective,” Rin said.

Fun video from RFI Student Fellows – RFI Strategic Communications 2019

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Alyssa Ehler

RFI Student Fellow – Grand Island, Neb.
Political Science & Agricultural Economics
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Hometown: Elkhorn, Neb.

Why are rural communities important to the future of our country? 

Rural communities are and will remain the hub of life for the world.As long as we need food rural communities will survive. I think the key for development is how do we help rural communities thrive in the future. The key values of a rural community, grit, innovation, survival, ingenuity, can be captured and applied to create successful thriving regions. I think that rural communities are important to the future because these values are uniquely rural and have the potential to unlock the next big thing in urban and rural development.

What do you hope to gain?

I chose this experience because it is full of professional development opportunities, leadership training and networking opportunities. It also allows me the opportunity to use all these things to make a measurable, human impact on the communities we serve. There are very few internships where, as students, we can make an impact on others with our work. That’s what makes the fellowship special.

I hope to gain skills that I can apply to communities in Nebraska and around the world. With the focus on inclusive leadership, I know I will learn how to better communicate with diverse groups of people, leaders from all backgrounds, and I hope to gain skills to build effective coalitions for change.

Why do you think it important students have this type of experience in terms of inclusive leadership development?

There is diversity everywhere, from age, experience, gender, ethnicity, race, to the way we were raised — everyone is different and unique. This inclusive leadership training will help students to be the most effective leaders in their work place, because they will not only understand the technical part of their work but the human part of their work.

Why is it important students give back to our state?

As someone who grew up in the largest city in Nebraska and has lived in a city of millions, I have come to understand the vital lessons that come from the community, grit, vitality and teamwork that comes from rural communities. These lessons can be applied to towns and 10 to cities of 10 million.

Students have the ability to fight the brain drain plaguing rural communities. The University of Nebraska brings in students from all over the country and the world. Each of us brings a unique perspective that can help Nebraska thrive, which in turns help our University thrive.

Why does now provide tremendous opportunity to move rural communities forward? What are some of your ideas to move these smaller communities forward?

Nebraska has a unique opportunity not just to rebuild but to renovate after the floods and blizzards this year. Nebraska has a plethora of innovators, mavericks and change makers ready to be released to unlock the potential of our rural communities. We need to use our experts, policy makers, entrepreneurs and community members in a collaborative effort to move our communities to the next era of rural.


Fellows Week 8: Grand Island

July 12, 2019
By Alyssa and Angela Wow, the time has flown by! It is hard to believe that we have just finished 8 weeks with only three to go. Plus we have a surprise! We (Angela and Alyssa) finished up our time …

By Alyssa and Angela

Wow, the time has flown by! It is hard to believe that we have just finished 8 weeks with only three to go. Plus we have a surprise! We (Angela and Alyssa) finished up our time in Grand Island early and headed west to work with our Custer County team for the last 3 weeks of the summer!

Since our last Grand Island update, we got busy executing projects and doing the preparation for projects happening in the future. 

Angela spent most of Weeks 3 through 7 being our video creator and editor. We wanted to be able to share the impact of Nebraska Extension’s Community Vitality Initiative’s Latino Small Business program everywhere and with everyone. So, Angela created videos in Spanish with English subtitles. One of our favorite stories was Duniesky’s. Duniesky Enrrique is an entrepreneur in Grand Island who wanted to start his own tattoo shop. He utilized the Latino Small Business Program to get one on one technical counseling to discover the insurance, licensing, and legal requirements for tattoo shops in Nebraska. He got everything accomplished and then realized he couldn’t find a place that fit his needs. Nebraska Extension came to the rescue and helped Duniesky find a place to work. Since then he has been making beautiful tattoos in Grand Island. 

While Angela was channeling her inner Steven Spielberg, Alyssa was working on creating training programs for Nebraska Extension including Facebook for Business and Sustainability at Home. Her Facebook training covered how to create a Facebook page for a business step by step, how to increase engagement on your Facebook page, what to post, how to track your posts and evaluate success, and how to utilize paid advertising on Facebook. Her Sustainability training covered everything anyone could need to know about how to be more sustainable and save money at home. From reducing energy costs to recycling through a few easy steps we can greatly reduce the impact we have on the environment and our wallets. Alyssa then took this one step further and started laying the groundwork for a sustainability competition between businesses in Grand Island and hopes to see this happen in the future to create a healthier community and lower the energy cost burden on businesses!

We’ve also made a lot of progress on our 4th Street project. We finished the directory of our businesses and now the program is positioned to utilize that information to make a map of that area that will show off the all of the great diversity that Grand Island has to offer (there are about 100 locally owned businesses on 4th Street). We also were able to host a community meeting for the business owners on 4th Street as well. We are hoping to create connections across race and gender so that the business owners can work together to bring investment and customers to 4th Street and show Nebraska how great of a place 4th Street in Grand Island is!

Then, week 8, we moved to Broken Bow! Stay tuned for all that is to come. Sneak peek it includes dog parks, barn celebrations, intern socials, and more! We’ve loved getting to know this community and have already been working hard on projects this week! 

Wonderful Selfie that includes Alyssa, Angela and Miguel Estevez (Mental Health Therapist/UNO Graduate Student) as they finished their second mental health workshop for the Latino community in Grand Island.

Pictured here is Angela (maroon sweater on right) assisting a photography class to learn how to take good pictures and possibly make a business out of it.

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Grand Island Instagram Takeover

July 10, 2019
Grand Island fellows Alyssa and Angela took over the Rural Futures Instagram story on June 5th 2019. This was our first ever fellow takeover, and it went very well! Watch as our fellows film a success story video for UNL …

Grand Island fellows Alyssa and Angela took over the Rural Futures Instagram story on June 5th 2019. This was our first ever fellow takeover, and it went very well! Watch as our fellows film a success story video for UNL extension and follow along with a day in the life as an RFI fellow.

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Fellows Week 3: Grand Island

June 7, 2019
Written by Angela Beltran & Alyssa Ehler Wow what a busy few weeks it has been! Grand Island has proven to be a dynamic, fun, and diverse community, and we hit the ground running from day 1! We started off …

Written by Angela Beltran & Alyssa Ehler

Wow what a busy few weeks it has been! Grand Island has proven to be a dynamic, fun, and diverse community, and we hit the ground running from day 1!

We started off by getting to know what our Community Lead Mentors Sandra and Griselda due with Nebraska Extension Community Vitality Initiative and REAP (Rural Enterprise Assistance Program) respectively. Also, during out first week, we were invited to attend a mental health training program specifically targeted to help youth. After the floods in Nebraska and the immigration raids in O’Neil awareness of the importance of mental health has been growing and the week after we were able to attend a workshop focused on adults. 

In our first weeks here, we participated in a few of the programs that the Latino Small Business program hosts for the community, a marketing workshop, a women’s conference, and a cleaning academy. We also sat in on meetings with several entrepreneurs and were able to see how this program assists from start to finish with the start up process. 

We also got to visit the All of Us truck. All of Us is a research program that has been touring across the United States to create a database of information from underrepresented groups and to educate people of the many influences that impact health to create a future of precision medicine that is inclusive to all.

Our most recent meeting was with Mayor Roger Steele, who came to Nebraska Extension to visit with the Grand Island Latino Network. We were able learn from Mayor Steele about the current efforts to ensure Grand Island is inclusive and accessible to all and share our insight of how Grand Island can continue to progress. 

We have also started working on a variety of projects. One of our main projects this summer is analyzing the training topics covered by the Latino Small Business Program and areas of community need. We have already started to develop 4 workshops including Facebook for Business and a multi week mental health program. For the mental health workshops, we were able to partner with a graduate student from UNO who returned to Grand Island for his internship and is working at the Friendship Home. We are so excited to bring accessible mental health training in Spanish to the citizens of Grand Island. 

The Latino Small Business Program helps many entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams. To share these stories with all of Nebraska, we are filming videos of some of the business owners that have been helped by Nebraska Extension and REAP. 

Our biggest project is to help promote 4th Street, which is the center of Latino entrepreneurship in Grand Island. We are working to ensure that these business owners are equipped with the tools and leadership training needed to make 4th Street a welcoming, diverse, attraction in Grand Island and to create a united business district downtown. 

We are excited to continue working with people from all parts of the community in Grand Island!

We were able to sit in on the Grand Island Latino Network’s meeting with Mayor Steele (Grey Suit on the left) it was an awesome opportunity to share with community leaders what we’ve been working on and learn about Grand Island. 

Who doesn’t love smoothies and tea?! We stopped by Big Red Nutrition one of the businesses UNL Extension helped start in Hastings!

Alyssa is pointing out an interesting fact that she noticed when we visited the All of Us truck. 
We all learned something new, such as all blue eyed people relate back to one person!

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Kersten Peters

Kersten 2019 RFI Student Fellow

RFI Student Fellow – Garden County, Neb.
Elementary Special Education (K-6) and Early Childhood Inclusive
University of Nebraska at Kearney
Hometown: Scribner, Neb.

Why are rural communities important to the future of our country? 

I feel that rural communities are important to the future of our country because of the livelihood they have. In a rural community you often will see farmers in the fields with their children in tow behind them. Farmers are single-handedly the heart and soul of rural communities. Without farmers, prices at the grocery store would be outrageous. Additionally, rural communities bring forth diversities that urban communities cannot fathom. The size of rural communities is often what drives people to them. Not having to deal with traffic jams, sirens at all hours of the night, or the outrageous prices of living arrangements. Rural communities are known for always supporting its people, but also other rural communities. One amazing thing about rural communities is that they are often located within reasonable driving distances from urban communities that contain malls and fine dining restaurants. Overall, the benefits rural communities have will forever outlast what happens in our country, making them the most important type of communities to have.

What do you hope to gain?

I hope to gain knowledge around how to create a program that will benefit the youth of a community. I also hope to gain knowledge that I can take with me into my teaching career.

Why do you think it important students have this type of experience in terms of inclusive leadership development?

This type of experience allows students to further their education and put what they know into the “real world.” Additionally, it allows students to take action and develop their leadership skills.

Why is it important students give back to our state?

Small communities are the best communities to work in. Everyone is willing to help and sometimes the rural communities are the communities that need the most resources.

Nebraska is a state that depends on working with neighbors. Therefore, when we give back to our state, we are fulfilling our requirements as residents of Nebraska.

Why does now provide tremendous opportunity to move rural communities forward? What are some of your ideas to move these smaller communities forward?

After the flooding that just happened in March the rural communities in Nebraska are having to rebuild. With that being said, it is now that we can rebuild a community in a more advanced way than hundreds of years ago when the towns were first built. In order to move these smaller communities forward we need to: 1. Have family nights weekly or bi-weekly. 2. Integrate organizations into the community to promote education about children and their needs.


Fellows Week 10: Garden County

July 26, 2019
When you last checked in with Kersten and Courtney, the two were working with the Garden County Communities For Kids Core Team to create a 4th of July carnival. Kersten and Courtney also held a meeting with First Five Nebraska …

When you last checked in with Kersten and Courtney, the two were working with the Garden County Communities For Kids Core Team to create a 4th of July carnival. Kersten and Courtney also held a meeting with First Five Nebraska organization, hosting a lobbyist for the state capital who discussed different data about the state of Nebraska’s decrease in funds for early childhood. 

Now, in their last three weeks, Kersten and Courtney are working on finishing their big project, interviewing Garden County community residents to discuss early childhood opportunities in the community and how communication can be improved about the different events being offered in the community. After all interviews have been completed,  Kersten and Courtney will determine common patterns found when it comes to the community’s early childhood experiences. When all common patterns are determined, Kersten and Courtney will present the patterns to the Garden County Community For Kids Core Team and discuss different strategies that could be implemented. 

In addition to finding common patterns, Kersten and Courtney will be researching grants that are available for Garden County to utilize, as well as surrounding areas, like Chappell. When researching grants, the two will be searching for grants that can help with early childhood experiences in the community. In addition to early childhood, the two are also searching for grants that will boost community vitality. 

Last but not least, Kersten and Courtney are sad to leave their community, but cannot thank Garden County for their hospitality. The two have grown in their 10 weeks in the community and have become stronger inclusive leaders than when they began this summer. 

Courtney in a spaceship from the photo booth at the library summer reading program!

Kersten in a spaceship from the photo booth at the library summer reading program!

Kersten and Dustin at the 4th of July Kids Carnival!

Kersten and Dustin at the 4th of July Kids Carnival!

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Fellows Week 5: Garden County

June 21, 2019
Kersten and Courtney are both living it up in rural, small town western Nebraska. The two are working with the Volunteers of America Western Nebraska to provide the groundwork for possible early childhood experiences. It was a slow start, but …

Kersten and Courtney are both living it up in rural, small town western Nebraska. The two are working with the Volunteers of America Western Nebraska to provide the groundwork for possible early childhood experiences. It was a slow start, but the two have picked up the pace since the first week. As Courtney and Kersten continue to work in Garden County, they are quickly finding out what it means to be immersed in a small town. Both have helped with concession stands and umpiring for the town’s youth baseball and softball games. Additionally,  they helped with a social event with the Sixpence program and the summer school CHAMPS program by helping teach a lesson once a week according to the weekly theme.

Kersten and Courtney have spent the last four weeks getting to know the Garden County communities: Lisco, Oshkosh, and Lewellen. During this time they have been working with the Garden County Communities For Kids Core Team to come up with focus group questions to ask as a follow up on a recent county wide survey that was done. During these focus groups, Kersten and Courtney will be visiting with residents in Garden County to find out what the communities feel it needs for its youth. This may be deciding another daycare center needs to be built or more community wide events need to be offered. After the focus groups are completed, the two will host a Communities For Kids Core Team meeting to discuss the common patterns that were found. During this time, the Core Team will discuss the different strategies that can take place in the community to boost early childhood opportunities.   

In addition to the focus groups, the two have been working on setting up games for a fourth of July carnival they will be having at the city park in Oshkosh. The two have also been chosen as judges for the fourth of July parade. Also, the two have created Facebook pages for both the Oshkosh Public Library and Garden County Communities For Kids to help bring awareness to the program and business, but to also connect with people around the Garden County area about the events both have to offer. In addition to the carnival, Courtney and Kersten will be hosting a community event to allow the public, or those who were not randomly selected for the focus groups, to ask questions or speak their concerns about the current early childhood opportunities available.

Lastly, the two held a meeting with First Five Nebraska at the Most Unlikely Place in Lewellen. During this meeting Elizabeth Lopez Everett, a lobbyist for the state capital, discussed different data about in the state of Nebraska and how the state is seeing a decrease in funds for early childhood. She also discussed how the more early childhood facilities that a town has available, the higher chance that people are willing to live in that town and invest in that town.

Kersten and Courtney have also experienced Western Nebraska at its finest. Kersten overcame her fear of rattlesnakes for a day and visited Chimney Rock. The two also took time to visit the Hierloom Festival in Bridgeport. The festival was a mini-version of a Junk Stock, for those that are familiar. Lastly, the two have spent almost every weekend at Lake McConaughy. Between just driving past and looking at the beautiful view and laying out for hours to reach complete relaxation, Courtney and Kersten are becoming very comfortable in Garden County!

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