Connor McFayden

Junior

Environmental Studies, Community and Regional Planning, Natural Resources and Environmental Economics

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 SiebertAndromede UwaseEthan Weiche
Innovators: Amber RossGena McPherson

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

Why did you choose the Fellowship Program?

I want to make a difference in my state. This program gives me the perfect opportunity to do that.

What do you hope to gain?

I hope that I will gain a deeper understanding of the issues facing rural Nebraska and what steps can be taken to address them, as well as experience in working with and supporting communities.

Why is it important that students develop inclusive leadership development?

I think it is crucial to develop inclusive leaders in order to address the complex issues we face now and into the future. The best teacher is experience, and this program promises to provide a lot of that.

Why should students work in rural communities?

I am concerned that my generation has written off rural communities as stagnant and unimportant. Experiences like these can reveal the opportunities and importance of the communities that support the metropolises we are all familiar with.

Why is it important students give back to Nebraska?

Nebraska is my home. I owe everything I am to the people here. I can’t pay it all back, but I can contribute to the communities that raised me.

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

I think the increasing connectivity our world experiences through technology is a great catalyst for growth in rural communities. Connecting businesses and people through this network can have a phenomenal impact on the communities that have felt disconnected from the mainstream for generations.

Amanda Most

Junior

Agricultural Education-Leadership
Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship

University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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2020 Community: Wahooa

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 GerlachOscaline Usanase
Innovators: Theresa KleinMelissa Harrell

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

Why did you choose the Fellowship Program?

I am grateful for my roots tied to agriculture and rural Nebraska, and I am passionate about keeping rural areas alive and thriving. I hope to work in a rural area upon graduating from college, so the Rural Futures Institute is the perfect opportunity for me to gain a variety of experiences that will benefit my future.

What do you hope to gain?

I hope to gain valuable knowledge and skills in many areas of rural development that will benefit my future career and establish important connections and relationships within my placement community.

Why is it important that students develop inclusive leadership development?

Exposing students to new experiences, people and lifestyles helps them gain new perspectives and be challenged to think differently. This builds leaders who are better equipped to solve the world’s challenges.

Why should students work in rural communities?

Being immersed in a rural community creates an appreciation for a simpler lifestyle. There may be fewer shopping and restaurant choices, but there is a lot of value and much to be gained from living in a rural community.

Why is it important students give back to Nebraska?

Giving back to our state shows an appreciation for what it has given us thus far in life, but it also shows our desire and dedication to continue working to improve the Good Life.

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

Although they may be overlooked to some, I believe rural communities are on the rise. People are realizing the value of handmade, family-owned and locally grown. To help move smaller communities forward, it is my dream to create a marketing tool for rural areas. By spreading the word and making rural communities accessible to others, they will be able to thrive.

Marie Meis

Sophomore

Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Communication and Journalism

University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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2020 Community: Pierce County

Focus: Community Marketing, Resident Retention and Recruitment

The main focus of this project will be to market Pierce County. Students will help market the county by creating social media videos, blog posts, improve county websites, and create mini commercials and other marketing methods. A community impressions survey will be developed for each community. A secondary project will provide assistance to Plainview in establishing a networking/co-share space in a former community building.

Team
Students: Judith GreyMarie Meis
Innovators: Chad AndersonSusan Norris

Sponsored By: Pierce County Economic Development

Why did you choose the Fellowship Program?

I love rural Nebraska, and I’m beyond excited to live and work in a community for a whole summer. I love taking on projects, and I feel like this program will benefit me greatly. I hope I can give back in a meaningful way.

What do you hope to gain?

I want to live, work and socialize in a new community where I can expand my network, learn new skills and help the community.

Why is it important that students develop inclusive leadership development?

Inclusive leadership is so vital in any organization. The concepts and practices can be applied in so many ways, and students can use those during their summer but always carry it with them afterwards.

Why should students work in rural communities?

There is nothing like the experience of being totally immersed in a community. There is so much more to see, and I hope I can learn more about what it takes to keep a rural community surviving.

Why is it important students give back to Nebraska?

In my time in a small school and in various organizations, I’ve learned things don’t happen unless people step up. Each person has a responsibility to serve and give back and what better place to start than locally.

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

Each community has different things that makes it unique and exciting. Capitalizing on those strengths and making them even better can provide a place people want to visit and even live in.

Emma Hoffschneider

Sophomore
Communications & Public Relations
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

2020 Community: Auburn, Nemaha County

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
Innovators: Julia OestmannKim Beger

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

Why did you choose the Fellowship Program?

I chose this experience for the opportunity to make a positive impact in a rural community similar to the one where I was raised. I have experienced first hand the incredible things rural communities can do if they are given a chance. To be given the opportunity to help rural communities reach their full potential is priceless. Ultimately, my strong passion for rural America and helping others led me too this life changing experience.

What do you hope to gain?

After my summer as a RFI Fellow I hope to have strengthened my leadership abilities, continued to develop my networking abilities, helped others realize their potential, and continued to learn and grow as an inclusive leader.

Why is it important that students develop inclusive leadership development?

It is important for students to have this type of experience in terms of inclusive leadership development because of the personal growth each fellow will experience this summer. Inclusive leadership is a valuable skill for students to possess. In our future professional careers we will need to have the ability to work with a large amount of people who come from different backgrounds, have opposing views or approach tasks differently than us. This type of experience lets student fellows have the opportunity to strengthen and fine tune their inclusive leadership so we will be prepared for our future careers.

Why should students work in rural communities?

Personally, having this experience in a rural community allows me to see the challenges my own community has faced. By allowing students to live and work in a rural community, RFI is giving us an inside look to our potential future life. Personally, I hope to someday live in a rural community. By being a summer fellow with RFI, I am gaining the necessary skill set I will need to succeed in my future community. Having this type of experience is critical because it not only allows us a chance to make a positive impact, but it allows us to create valuable connections and build career-strengthening skills, things we will need in every aspect of our future life and career.

Why is it important students give back to Nebraska?

Service is a critical part of every community in Nebraska. As students, we have often times had the help of others in our daily lives, whether that is the support of our community in our activities or academic endeavors. It is crucial for students to give back to Nebraska because we need to ensure future generations will have the same opportunities as we did. Giving back to Nebraska ensures the continuation of meaningful growth in all of its communities. As we continue to grow and learn as individuals we need to share our talents with our communities so they will be able to continue to grow and prosper.

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

In today’s world people are becoming more and more creative in everything they do. Now provides the perfect opportunity to move rural communities forward because people are more adept at thinking outside of the box. Personally, I hope to move smaller communities forward by helping them realize their own uniqueness and how to use it for their benefit.

Judith Grey

Senior

Science Business

Union College

2020 Community: Pierce County

Focus: Community Marketing, Resident Retention and Recruitment

The main focus of this project will be to market Pierce County. Students will help market the county by creating social media videos, blog posts, improve county websites, and create mini commercials and other marketing methods. A community impressions survey will be developed for each community. A secondary project will provide assistance to Plainview in establishing a networking/co-share space in a former community building.

Team
Students: Judith GreyMarie Meis
Innovators: Chad AndersonSusan Norris

Sponsored By: Pierce County Economic Development

Why did you choose the Fellowship Program?

I have a strong up bringing with doing community service, and it seemed to me to be a thrilling experience to be apart of.

What do you hope to gain?

I hope to gain some knowledge, understanding, and experience towards a goal to grow as a respectable and quality adult by taking on tasks and learning to find solutions by using resources that are accessible.

Why is it important that students develop inclusive leadership development?

I think it is important for students to have this type of experience because it helps with the transition from college students to adults with mentors to give pointers — in America we don’t really have something that is spread around the country to do so.

Why should students work in rural communities?

It is important for students to have this type of experience in a rural community because you become a part of something greater that is close knit due to the community aspect, but will have an impact in people’s lives and it may be seen quickly, but most likely over a period of time.

Why is it important students give back to Nebraska?

It is important for students to give back to Nebraska because we all come from somewhere, and even if it is not your home, someone else claims it as such. Since we’ll live here for a bit of our time, it is good to let the residents know we appreciate them.

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

We have minds from everywhere attending colleges in Nebraska, and everyone is taking the time to express themselves and give a variety of ideas to work with.

Savannah Gerlach

Sophomore
Agricultural Economics
International Agriculture
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

2020 Community: Wahoo

Focus: Community Development, Community Marketing

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:
Students: Amanda MostOscaline Usanase
Innovators: Theresa KleinMelissa Harrell

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

Why did you choose the Fellowship Program?

I chose this experience because I believe in the potential in rural communities. While getting to serve a community, I’ll grow while helping the community to grow as well.

What do you hope to gain?

I hope to gain a whole new perspective on inclusive leadership while stepping outside my comfort zone and learning what it means to be a part of rural development. I hope to gain new friendships and connections across the state, and I also look forward to gaining insight on how I have the power to help make a difference in a rural community.

Why is it important that students develop inclusive leadership development?

I think it is important students have this type of experience with inclusive leadership because it provides hands-on learning and interaction within communities, solving problems and innovating in a way we never have before. It’s first-hand learning where we’re actually doing the work — we’ll get to learn inclusive leadership, so we can apply it today and in 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 this type of exposure to small communities can send positive messages about the opportunities that small communities have and can encourage them to come back home to small towns. My rural community undoubtedly provided me with numerous opportunities for me to learn about leadership and service.

Why is it important students give back to Nebraska?

It is important students give back because, just as much as anywhere else, Nebraska has a story to tell and a perspective that can be valuable to anyone. It has built us up to be the people we are today and has taught me that a sense of community and hard work can be state-wide and that no matter how far you wander, you can always find a place back home.

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

With this experience through the Rural Futures Institute, we have a tremendous opportunity to move communities forward because with the students we have to serve the communities, we’re adding fresh eyes and a unique perspective that can add value to these communities in ways they never thought of. I think that our tech-savvy generation can add to these communities by helping innovate and rethink the most efficient and creative ways they can expand the exposure of their community.

Aline Abayo

Sophomore

Integrated Science
Agricultural Economics
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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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:
Students: Aline AbayoMegan Tofflemire
Innovators: Angie Moore, Kate Warner

Why did you choose the Fellowship Program?

I was looking for new challenges and ways to develop myself as a problem solver, analytical thinker and a leader as well.

What do you hope to gain?

I hope to gain experience in working with different people and different cultures. I will develop myself as an inclusive leader and directly engage in solving current challenges in today’s communities.

Why is it important that students develop inclusive leadership development?

Considering the world’s rapid development and globalization, at some point, students will need inclusive leadership to work with people with different backgrounds and statuses to be the best they can be.

Why should students work in rural communities?

Rural communities are a big part of the world, especially in Nebraska. They have different backgrounds, skills and expectations. Also, rural communities have a lot of resources.

Why is it important students give back to Nebraska?

Personally, it is crucial for me to give back to Nebraska because the Nebraska community helped me to continue my journey as a student, a young scientist, and an innovator.

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

Through community engagement, entrepreneurship and innovations, I am positive that rural communities will improve.

Brittney Emerson

Junior
Agricultural Leadership
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

2020 Community: Auburn, Nemaha County

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
Innovators: Julia OestmannKim Beger

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

Why did you choose the Fellowship Program?

I chose to apply to be an RFI Fellow because I have had several sorority sisters that have taken part in this program and enjoyed their time. It is a new opportunity for me to grow as an individual and a leader.

What do you hope to gain?

I hope to gain experience for the future and critical thinking skills. I know that this will force me out of my comfort zone.

Why is it important that students develop inclusive leadership development?

Everyone has different beliefs, values and opinions. Having opportunities like this that immerse us into leadership positions with diverse followers helps students like myself to understand how to solve an issue with the resources available as well as be more open-minded to those willing to help.

Why should students work in rural communities?

The great thing about rural communities is that the people are all kind and welcoming. Community members are looking to improve their place they call home, and if the students through this experience can help them do that then I think that can have a huge impact on both parties.

Why is it important students give back to Nebraska?

Growing up, students are dependent on everything around them to help them grow up into successful adults. It is important that students are grateful for what they have been given and show it by giving back to those things that they used to depend on so that new generations can continue to give and take what is needed for their success.

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

We continue to move forward, and we should make sure we take our rural communities with us. These communities can be known for being slow-paced and that’s not all bad, but as far as changes for the better, I hope that someday by introducing innovative trends and technology to rural areas as they are becoming popular in urban areas will help improve these communities.