Amber Ross

Ravenna Economic Development Corporation

Director

Ravenna, Neb.

Graduate in Agribusiness from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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2020 Experience

Focus: Community and Economic Development, Community Marketing

Ravenna has a long list of projects the students will focus on, including organizing and running a Big Idea competition, research planning and fundraising for a bike and hike trail, and increasing civic engagement by encouraging residents to subscribe to a community texting notification service to receive community updates via text messaging. In addition, students will use existing and new photographs and video to create marketing materials for the community.

Team:
Students: Connor McFayden, Kori SiebertAndromede Uwase, Ethan Weiche
Innovators: Gena McPherson

Sponsored By: Ravenna Chamber of Commerce, Ravenna Economic Development Corporation

Amber’s Nebraska Story

Nebraska born and raised! Grew up in Callaway, moved to Lincoln for college, spent some time in various communities for my internships, now I’ve moved to Ravenna! Moved in December of 2019 and started working in January 2020.

What do you hope to gain?

I hope to increase my understanding of others. That will help me be a better leader and be more inclusive to those around me.

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

The world as a whole, but specifically Nebraska, is changing very quickly. The world is more connected now than it ever has been. Communities need to embrace that change. The training will help community leaders down that path.

Why is this contribution of students from the university significant to you and your community?

The fact that the University of Nebraska through the Rural Futures Institute wants to connect with rural communities is awesome! Students always have such a fresh perspective on various challenges. Having them share their thoughts and ideas lead to such innovative projects and solutions.

Why is rural important?

Rural communities are the backbone of this nation. Things always start small; from concerts to organizations, banks to hotels. Things that start small can always become great. I believe the same for rural. Communities that are small can always become great.

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

As communities of all sizes are changing demographically rural communities will have the opportunity to entice people to move out of larger growing cities.

Julia Oestmann

Content Strategist

BCom Solutions

Auburn, Neb.

Graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism & Mass Communications

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2020 Experience

Focus: Economic Development, Entrepreneurship, Workforce Training

The primary project will involve creating a great marketing and research effort with a strong community campaign to secure passage of LB840, the local option municipal economic development act that authorizes incorporated cities to collect and appropriate local tax dollars for economic development purposes. Additional projects will include entrepreneurship, coding camp and mobile STEM lab promotion, business recruitment and workforce training.

Team:
Students: Brittney EmersonEmma Hoffschneider
Peer: Kim Beger

Sponsored By: Auburn Development Council, Nemaha County Development Foundation Fund, Nemaha County Hospital

Julia’s Nebraska Story

I have lived in Nebraska my whole life. I grew up a few miles outside of Johnson and graduated high school from Johnson-Brock. In 2014, I headed off to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, trading a town with about nine total streets for one with more than 400 stoplights! The marketing agency I work for is headquartered in the Lincoln Haymarket, but its unique rural ties allow me to split my time between the capital city and Auburn, Neb., which is great, because my heart will always live in Nemaha County!

What do you hope to gain?

I was a communications intern for the Rural Futures Institute in college. I would love to help foster the same growth and development I experienced being a part of the program.

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

The key to positive community growth is inclusion — of both people and diverse ideas. I think it’s important as a leader to foster that inclusion and make the best effort possible to help the community thrive.

Why is this contribution of students from the University of Nebraska significant to you and your community?

It sounds cliché to say, but it truly is always great to get young people in the door to pour their time and ideas into a community. Even though rural communities are the heartbeat of Nebraska, they don’t usually receive that type of investment.

I also think it’s important for University of Nebraska students to experience the vibrance of rural Nebraska. Some of them may be familiar with what it’s like to live in a rural area, but for others it could be incredibly eye-opening.

In this age of technology, the opportunities for young people in rural America are real and truly endless, and it’s important that we make the time and commitment to cultivate those opportunities so that they don’t fall behind or shrivel up.

Why is rural important?

Perhaps I’m biased, but to me, rural is the backbone and the heart beat of the United States. It is home to the ag cycle that produces our food, and it is quickly becoming the hub for cleaner energy and renewable plastic solutions. That doesn’t mean that rural America is without its setbacks. It’s important that we develop and protect the opportunities and resources that exist in rural, while continuing to work toward solutions for issues such as access to health care and broadband. A thriving rural U.S. is in the best interest of everyone.

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

With the rapidly changing landscape of agriculture and job availability, the reality is that the population of many rural communities is both aging and shrinking. I believe that by capitalizing on changes in technology and seizing rural broadband opportunities, we can start to shift those trends. As the job market changes, more and more young people have the ability to work from anywhere — so why not work in the middle of everywhere? There are hundreds of reasons to choose rural — including, but not limited to, a lower cost of living, safe neighborhoods, clean air, vibrant community spirit and more.

Rachel Williss

Junior

Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Communication

University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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2020 Community: Table Rock | Pawnee County

Focus: Community Marketing, Economic Development, Tourism

The main focus of this project will be to implement a comprehensive social media strategy for local businesses to build their social media presence and expand their reach to new audiences. The goal is to include areas high school students that are interested in marketing or advertising that could help facilitate this process and take the reins once the fellowship is completed. Students would also perform community impact surveys and brainstorm new ways to promote the area through tourism.

Team:
Peer: Kate Osbon
Innovators: Kenneth EdwardsAmy Hunzeker

Sponsored By: Table Rock Development Corporation, Pawnee County Promotional Network, Village of Table Rock, City of Pawnee City, and Table Rock Historical Society

Why did you choose the Fellowship Program?

I chose this opportunity because everything about it is purposeful and impactful. I liked that my internship would be constructed around my strengths, so that they can be put to use by a community that can benefit from them, while also giving me a chance to practice them outside of the classroom and develop professionally. I also liked the fact that this internship would push me out of my comfort zone. I will get to explore a new part of the state and new responsibilities. The opportunity to make an impact beyond just gaining work experience is not something many other internships offer.

What do you hope to gain?

I hope to discover a new area of Nebraska, build relationships, gain new perspectives and increase my experience in media development and in leadership.

Why is it important that students develop inclusive leadership development?

It is unavoidable to see that our world is constantly developing and becoming more diverse. Establishing inclusive leadership skills is not only important, but essential for cooperation and unity. Learning to be respectful and welcoming of new perspectives and ideas improves the accomplishment of everyone involved and builds trust, which is foundational for success. Skills and experience in inclusive leadership are applicable to all careers. This opportunity is especially important for students because many are still discovering their identity, career path, and leadership philosophy that they will take with them into the future. Developing more inclusive leaders will help to heal the divides in our communities and in our country.

Why should students work in rural communities?

Rural communities are the backbone of our state, and learning from them is important for communication and understanding. Many of us will have careers that require us to interact with people from all over Nebraska, so experiencing rural perspectives while also experiencing the perspectives of our university city is beneficial. Completing an internship in a place that may be unfamiliar also gives students greater responsibility and independence.

Why is it important students give back to Nebraska?

Having a supportive community is a part of our identity and is one of our advantages as a state. It is important to contribute to it and advocate for it so that it remains that way for years to come. It is also rewarding get to know an area you may not be familiar with. While we are all Nebraskans, there is still a lot of diversity in communities and in the land throughout the state. Building relationships in new places helps strengthen communication, understanding, and trust between communities.

What new opportunities exist today to help move rural communities forward? What are your ideas?

The world is more interconnected, making it easier to share knowledge, ideas, opportunities and resources. I think that encouraging more of this communication both within Nebraska and beyond will strengthen us as a state.

Andromede “Andy” Uwase

Sophomore

Integrated Science with Society and Environment Concentration

College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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2020 Community: Ravenna

Focus: Community and Economic Development, Community Marketing

Ravenna has a long list of projects the students will focus on, including organizing and running a Big Idea competition, research planning and fundraising for a bike and hike trail, and increasing civic engagement by encouraging residents to subscribe to a community texting notification service to receive community updates via text messaging. In addition, students will use existing and new photographs and video to create marketing materials for the community.

Team
Students: Connor McFaydenKori Siebert, Ethan Weiche
Innovators: Amber RossGena McPherson

Sponsored By: Ravenna Chamber of Commerce, Ravenna Economic Development Corporation

Why did you choose the Fellowship Program?

I chose this experience to get the opportunity to serve my community, work with them, listen to them and know what challenges they are facing and how we can find some solution together. Also, I chose this experience to develop my leadership skills, which includes communication and team work. Last but not least, I chose this experience to challenge myself and prepare for my future career. My goal is to work with people by working together to solve some issues. This experience is a great way of preparing myself to achieve that goal of serving the community in need.

What do you hope to gain?

I hope to grow as a leader. By working closely with the community, I hope to gain a better understanding of what needs to be done and make my contributions to solve problems. I hope to meet new people, build long lasting relationships with my fellow leaders, learn from them, and share my experiences as well. By working with people from different backgrounds and with diverse experience, it will improve my leadership skills.

Why is it important that students develop inclusive leadership development?

I dream of a world where everyone respect everyone’s uniqueness and differences and knows that everyone has to bring something unique in a group to achieve something bigger. Yes, inclusive leadership development is needed for everyone to be capable and welcoming leaders who provide the comfortable environment for everyone.

Why should students work in rural communities?

Rural communities play a big part in the economic development of the country and as the primary source of food. Students needs this type of experience to join forces with people in rural communities, help them to exploit their resources, learn from each other, and inspire each other.

Why is it important students give back to Nebraska?

As an international student, Nebraska has provided many things for me: I have education, new family and friends and opportunity to work on my future. It is important to give back to Nebraska because it gave us so much already.

What new opportunities exist today to help move rural communities forward? What are your ideas?

Rural communities have many opportunities to offer and exploit to develop. Now is the best time, with technology, higher education, and many people willing to work together. It would be better if we take advantage of all to develop and move rural communities forward.

Oscaline Usanase

Senior

Integrated Science, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Communication

College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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2020 Community: Wahoo

Focus: Civic Engagement, Communications

The students will work to identify and develop a comprehensive communications plan that focuses on city, healthcare and civic outreach and engagement. Students will identify and engage diverse emerging leaders in civic and healthcare related efforts. In addition, students will assist with final prep and execution of the 150th Sesquicentennial Celebration that will be held June 26-28 in Wahoo. Assistance with community engagement efforts will be pursued by creating surveys, conducting focus groups, etc.

Team:
Peers: Savannah Gerlach, Amanda Most
Innovators: Theresa KleinMelissa Harrell

Sponsored By: Wahoo Chamber and Economic Development, Saunders Medical Center, City of Wahoo

Why did you choose the Fellowship Program?

Nebraska being like my second home, I chose to be part of this experience because I want to give back to the community. I come from a small town in Rwanda, and I would love to use my skills in contributing to the greater cause in the rural communities of Nebraska.

What do you hope to gain?

I hope to have gained work experience that I will take with me in the next steps of my life.

Why is it important that students develop inclusive leadership development?

I think it is very important for students to have this experience in terms of inclusive leadership development because we are all different in some kind of way. We have different nationalities, beliefs, gender orientations, and more, and since we will be working with people who are different from us, I think it is good to know how to be inclusive despite our differences.

Why should students work in rural communities?

I believe it is important because this is a chance for students to serve, and give back to the rural community.

Why is it important students give back to Nebraska?

Nebraska is among the leading states in beef and corn production, and I think it is important for students to be part of advancement of Nebraska in different aspects by using their knowledge and skills.

What new opportunities exist today to help move rural communities forward? What are your ideas?

Now is the important time because there is imbalance in rural and urban population because so many people have moved to urban areas, and I am looking forward to be part of a project that will help in the development of the rural communities.

Megan Tofflemire

Senior

Criminal Justice, Spanish, Pre-Law

Wayne State College

2020 Community: Arapahoe

Focus: Economic and Community Development

The students will work on a variety of community and economic development projects. One goal is to connect local store fronts and homes with alumni and entrepreneurs. Students will also focus on a campaign to secure the passage of LB840 in the November election. Other projects will include building the new economic development organization through determining community and business needs, helping local businesses get an online presence, developing community marketing, and more.

Team:
Peer: Aline Abayo
Innovators: Angie Moore, Kate Warner

Sponsored By: Arapahoe Economic Development, City of Arapahoe

Why did you choose the Fellowship Program?

This program offered me the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and expand my individual abilities, without losing sight of where I came from. I chose this program because I feel that the leadership, staff and immersive experience are unlike any other internship program I have seen. I am looking forward to the opportunity to witness the impact made on the community I work with, as well as the opportunity to strengthen my personal abilities through the 1-on-1 coaching experience.

What do you hope to gain?

I hope to gain an individual confidence that enables me to take a more assertive approach to leadership, problem solving and conflict management. I also hope to strengthen my communication skills, so I am confident in my abilities to communicate effectively with any individual, especially public officials. Finally, I hope to gain a working knowledge of the behind the scenes work that goes into a thriving small town community.

Why is it important that students develop inclusive leadership development?

I think if students stay within their comfort zones and don’t take the initiative to learn about different leadership styles, methods and opportunities, they are ultimately hindering their potential growth. Inclusive leadership development accentuates the importance of respectfully working alongside others and openly accepting ideas to create a welcoming atmosphere. This open-mindedness creates a platform for shared ideas, knowledge and ultimately growth.

Why should students work in rural communities?

If we utilize an inclusive leadership method, it is likely that our awareness and knowledge of diversity will be enhanced. Diversity is an important part of our community dynamic. We should focus on creating a community that is not just accepting, but welcoming to diversity. A greater understanding of diversity furthers our awareness of the adversity that is impacting our community as a whole.

Why is it important students give back to Nebraska?

Nebraska is more than a state, Nebraska is a genuine community. Being raised here has graced us with a kindhearted midwestern acceptance that is sustained by the people within it. To believe that our state is powered by anything other than citizens hoping for prosperous growth is unrealistic. It is our people that keep this state great, and we as students are the future of Nebraska, which is why we need to give back with our time, effort, and knowledge.

What new opportunities exist today to help move rural communities forward? What are your ideas?

Nebraska is currently in a state of growth. As expansion continues, it becomes increasingly important for us to work alongside our rural communities to ensure that they are not left behind. We want to enable our rural communities to grow alongside the rest of our state. A couple ideas that I have to move small town communities forward are educating future generations on the success that can take place within their own communities and expanding marketing for the often times overlooked businesses small towns have to offer.

Sawyer Smith

Sophomore

Mathematics, Computer Science and Psychology

College of Arts & Sciences
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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2020 Community: Chadron, Crawford & Harrison | Dawes County

Focus: Tourism, PreK-12 Education and Mental Health Awareness, Indigenous Population Inclusion

The student fellows will work to complete SHAPE planning and implementation through data collection and analysis of pre-K-12 youth, with a priority support for the Native American population. Students will focus on methods to reduce stigma of mental health through awareness campaigns, as well as work with Educational Service Unit 13 to create a school-based mental health services needs assessment and a behavioral mental health dashboard for the department’s ongoing use. Students will also assist Dawes County Joint Planning and Discover Northwest Nebraska in the development of programs and marketing campaigns designed to enhance the tourism industry in Northwest Nebraska. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has already and will continue to disrupt the 2020 tourism season for the region. Having interns available for the summer will allow focus on promoting local and regional tourism through staycations and complete several planning projects for 2021.

Team:
Peer: Tyra Ann Reardon
Innovators: Katie CarrizalesTerri HaynesSandy Montague-Roes, Kerri Rempp

Sponsored By: Chadron Public Schools, Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education (AWARE) Grant, Educational Service Unit 13, Dawes County Joint Planning, Northwest Nebraska Tourism

Why did you choose the Fellowship Program?

I chose this experience because I thought it presented a unique opportunity to do something that I might not otherwise have been able to do. It gives me a chance to not only develop as a person, but also to be able to serve a community as a part of that development.

What do you hope to gain?

I hope to gain a greater understanding of the world that I live in and the people that inhabit that world through this experience. Additionally, I hope to gain skills and experiences that I can use going forward in my professional career.

Why is it important that students develop inclusive leadership development?

This type of experience is hugely important because of the nature of where our world is headed. As our world becomes more and more global, the people of the world need to become more and more capable of interacting and working with different groups of people, and this type of experience is an excellent way to teach those types of skills.

Why should students work in rural communities?

The fact of the matter is, not everyone comes from the same background. Personally, I was raised in a tiny, affluent bubble, but continuing to stay inside of that bubble isn’t going to help me progress as a person. In order to experience that kind of growth, people (including me) need to change their situation.

Why is it important students give back to Nebraska?

People who live in Nebraska, regardless of whether or not they’re from the state itself, have a lot to gain from the world around them. It seems only fair that if we as people are willing to take, we should in turn be willing to give back, to continue to foster the growth and development of a community.

What new opportunities exist today to help move rural communities forward? What are your ideas?

We are at a turning point for global and personal development. My generation has begun to enter the workplace and influence the world, and the choices that we make now are going to have huge impacts on the future. In order to maintain those impacts and move them in a positive direction, we need to be able to have support from our peers. At the base of this support comes education. I have been very blessed to have the education that I do, and I want to be able to help other people get a similar education. It is one of the most powerful tools that people today can and do have. I believe that making education accessible to everyone is one of the best ways to create change, on a personal level, as well as on the community level.

Kori Siebert

Senior

Speech Communications – emphasis in Organizational Leadership and Public Relations

Wayne State College

2020 Community: Ravenna

Focus: Community and Economic Development, Community Marketing

Ravenna has a long list of projects the students will focus on, including organizing and running a Big Idea competition, research planning and fundraising for a bike and hike trail, and increasing civic engagement by encouraging residents to subscribe to a community texting notification service to receive community updates via text messaging. In addition, students will use existing and new photographs and video to create marketing materials for the community.

Team:
Peers: Connor McFayden, Andromede Uwase, Ethan Weiche
Innovators: Amber RossGena McPherson

Sponsored By: Ravenna Chamber of Commerce, Ravenna Economic Development Corporation

Why did you choose the Fellowship Program?

I love what RFI stands for, and rural communities have a special place in my heart. I chose this experience because I want to be able to give back to another small community since mine molded me into who I am today and the dreams I have for the future.

What do you hope to gain?

I hope to gain more opportunities where I can grow and challenge myself as a leader. In the end, I hope to have more public relations experience, and that I am able to leave a positive lasting impression on the community I’m working with.

Why is it important that students develop inclusive leadership development?

It’s great to be able to push boundaries and think outside of the norm. Being involved in the RFI program can help one grow as a leader and be better prepared for the future.

Why should students work in rural communities?

I think it’s important for students to have this type of experience in a rural community because it allows them to get out of their comfort zone and really connect with all types of business owners and people within the community.

Why is it important students give back to Nebraska?

Nebraska is a great place to grow up and meet amazingly kind people here. It’s important for us to give back to Nebraska because it’s given so much to us. I want to someday raise my family here, and I want the communities thriving even more than they are now, for the next generation.

What new opportunities exist today to help move rural communities forward? What are your ideas?

RFI provides tremendous opportunities for communities to move forward by bringing in fresh eyes to help see things from a different perspective. I hope that I’m able to help these smaller communities move forward in the way that they see fit for their own community, whether that’s through social media, community events or planning for the future in whatever way.

Tyra Ann Reardon

Senior

Family and Consumer Sciences Education

University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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2020 Communities: Chadron, Crawford & Harrison | Dawes County

Focus: Tourism, PreK-12 Education and Mental Health Awareness, Indigenous Population Inclusion

The student fellows will work to complete SHAPE planning and implementation through data collection and analysis of pre-K-12 youth, with a priority support for the Native American population. Students will focus on methods to reduce stigma of mental health through awareness campaigns, as well as work with Educational Service Unit 13 to create a school-based mental health services needs assessment and a behavioral mental health dashboard for the department’s ongoing use. Students will also assist Dawes County Joint Planning and Discover Northwest Nebraska in the development of programs and marketing campaigns designed to enhance the tourism industry in Northwest Nebraska. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has already and will continue to disrupt the 2020 tourism season for the region. Having interns available for the summer will allow focus on promoting local and regional tourism through staycations and complete several planning projects for 2021.

Team:
Peer: Sawyer Smith
Innovators: Katie CarrizalesTerri HaynesSandy Montague-Roes, Kerri Rempp

Sponsored By: Chadron Public Schools, Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education (AWARE) Grant, Educational Service Unit 13, Dawes County Joint Planning, Northwest Nebraska Tourism

Why did you choose the Fellowship Program?

I chose to be a RFI fellow in order to expand upon my self while helping impact others. I want to give back to the state that has given me so much. I am from a small community in Nebraska, and I want to learn more about and give back to other rural towns outside of my own.

What do you hope to gain?

I hope to gain a better understanding of myself and our awesome state! I plan to live and teach in a rural community in Nebraska, and I want to learn as much as possible about the communities across the state.I also want to improve on my leadership, communication, and teamwork skills by immersing myself into a new community and culture.

Why is it important that students develop inclusive leadership development?

I think it is extremely important for students to gain inclusive leadership skills. We are the future workforce, so knowing how to properly lead and understand others is crucial.

Why should students work in rural communities?

I grew up in a very small town in Nebraska, and it has helped shape me into the person that I am today. I think every student should have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a rural community. Doing this helps show you a multitude of things, from where our food comes from to the day-to-day workings of a community outside of your own.

Why is it important students give back to Nebraska?

Giving back to Nebraska helps ensure our future. Nebraska is in the Bread Basket of the world; we feed millions. Helping the communities that are helping so many is a no brainer, in my opinion. The importance to give back to Nebraska even goes beyond feeding our future. It is important for students to give back to Nebraska to help further create a strong foundation for our own futures. Helping the communities that we may one day want to work and live in helps ensure that they are sustained and thriving for ourselves and others.

What new opportunities exist today to help move rural communities forward? What are your ideas?

There is no better time than now to help move rural communities forward because of the threat these communities have faced over the past year. The floods that tore through these communities has left many of them in a devastating state. Helping rebuild and move these communities forward will help ensure a stable future for thousands of businesses, farms, and families. I want to help drive these communities forward by teaching the next generation in rural Nebraska communities. After I graduate, I want to return to a small community to live and teach in. I also want to help strengthen rural communities by providing them with mental health resources. Mental health is one of the most over looked aspects of a person’s overall well being. Because of this, I want to help provide a more in depth mental illness education in schools and communities. I want to accomplish this by making rural communities aware of the resources that are available to them, and also help bring in more mental health assets.

Kate Osbon

Junior

Hospitality, Restaurant, and Tourism Management

University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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2020 Community: Table Rock, Pawnee County

Focus: Community Marketing, Economic Development, Tourism

The main focus of this project will be to implement a comprehensive social media strategy for local businesses to build their social media presence and expand their reach to new audiences. The goal is to include areas high school students that are interested in marketing or advertising that could help facilitate this process and take the reins once the fellowship is completed. Students would also perform community impact surveys and brainstorm new ways to promote the area through tourism.

Team
Peer: Rachel Williss
Innovators: Kenneth EdwardsAmy Hunzeker

Sponsored By: Table Rock Development Corporation, Pawnee County Promotional Network, Village of Table Rock, City of Pawnee City, and Table Rock Historical Society

Why did you choose the Fellowship Program?

I am friends with Megan Coan, who participated in this opportunity last year, and I saw the experiences she was able to have, so I finally messaged her and asked what she was participating in because I knew it was something special. Then, when I took ALEC 466 this fall with Dr. Fagan, I was able to see how she led and what her goals were as an educator on inclusivity. This class really had an impact on me and I enjoyed Dr. Fagan. When she spoke to the class about this program I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of, especially with my hospitality degree and background of growing up in a small community.

What do you hope to gain?

I want to leave the community at the end of my time with deep connections and a sense of a new place to call home. As for my work there, I want to leave knowing I helped where it was needed. I simply was an extra pair of hands and eyes that the community needed to get one of their goals completed.

Why is it important that students develop inclusive leadership development?

As a student in the hospitality industry, I am able to see how global our world is becoming. I also have seen my hometown become a more diverse community, which is something I was not sure would ever happen. I personally have seen how amazing learning and working with others cultures, backgrounds and traditions can be, so I am excited to become more educated. I think education is the key to a more cohesive world, and with my knowledge, I want to be able to spread it with everyone I lead now and in the future.

Why should students work in rural communities?

Rural communities, although small, affect so much of our state and country. Through agriculture and feeding our world, as well as growing young adults, they have a large impact. I know I want to give back to a type of community like my hometown. Bassett really started my journey, and I know it’s important to give back. I know the best way for me to give back right now is to work in a community and give them some working hands and young eyes.

Why is it important students give back to Nebraska?

Nebraska is the state that raised me and is what I advocate for when I’m anywhere in the world. I have family in California, and it’s amazing how much I get to share about our state my whole life. This state has given me a lot and I want to be able to keep it going through giving back.

What new opportunities exist today to help move rural communities forward? What are your ideas?

I’m from Bassett, NE, it’s a town of about 600 people. Growing up there I always would hear people from out of town want to see all these different things. These attractions to visitors were just part of the community to me, so I didn’t even see them as something to market to tourists. I think this is true in many communities. So many people have lived there for so long, they are used to what is so unique about their town. That’s why I think it’s great to have a fresh and young pair of eyes come and emphasize what’s great.