Webinar: Characterizing Food Retail in Rural Northeast Michigan

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

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

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

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

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

RSVP Here »


CIRD Issues Request for Proposals

Funding and Design Assistance Available for Rural Communities

Citizen’s Institute on Rural DesignTM Issue Request for Proposals

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

Scottsbluff Star Herald: Ricketts speaks on Impact of Rural Communitites

Ricketts Speaks on Impact of Rural Communities

Source: starherald.com
Posted: Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Written By: Maggy Lehmicke, Nebraska News Service


LINCOLN — Governor Pete Ricketts told several hundred people attending the Rural Futures Institute conference on Friday about the importance of rural communities for Nebraska’s economic growth.

“Agriculture is our largest industry,” Ricketts said. “We grow things and we make things. That’s what we do.”

According to Ricketts, 25 percent of Nebraska’s economy is agriculture.

“If you look at the last recession in 2008, Nebraska weathered that quite well compared to other states,” he said. “That was in large part because agriculture had done so well.”

Ricketts said agriculture is what is going to drive future economic growth in Nebraska. Because people are demanding a higher standard of living, he said, Nebraska’s agriculture industry is experiencing growth.

“We are ideally situated, right here in Nebraska, to be able to take advantage of that trend,” he said.

There is a growing focus on quality of life, Ricketts said. This involves access to healthcare, shopping, restaurants and well-paying jobs. He said finding solutions to the challenge of providing those things requires local communities to work with the state to develop local solutions.

The focus on higher quality of life means there is a need to create more jobs in rural communities, Ricketts said. With manufacturing being the second largest industry in Nebraska, he said there needs to be a focus on how to develop that workforce.

“Manufacturing allows us to create jobs all across our state, not just in Lincoln and Omaha,” Ricketts said. “Great Nebraska companies are creating jobs in our small towns and rural communities.”

Ricketts said the economic growth of the state is drawing young people in, but there still needs to be more education about the importance of agriculture throughout the state.

“We’ve got to do a better job of educating our urban consumers about where food comes from,” he said. “Even here in Lincoln we’ve got a lot of people that take it for granted.”

Ricketts said humanizing the face of agriculture is not just important on a local level, but on a national and international level as well.

“In Europe, the perception is we’re all big corporate farms,” he said. However, between 97 and 99 percent of Nebraska farms are family owned, he said.

To expand opportunities and grow Nebraska’s economy, Ricketts said we have to shift our eyes abroad.

“Ninety-nine percent of the world’s consumers lie outside our borders,” he said.

Today, Japan is the third largest trading partner and largest direct foreign investor in the state, Ricketts said. Approximately 20 percent of Nebraska’s beef exports and 50 percent of pork exports go to Japan, he said.

“Japanese diets are changing,” he said. “The opportunity to expand is huge.”

Ricketts said China currently blocks beef exports from Nebraska. Building a relationship with China would mean helping with China’s food security and opening doors for Nebraska manufacturers to sell in Chinese markets and to Chinese producers, he said.

“If you think about those rising standards of living, those are going to be in Asia,” Ricketts said. “We’ve got to do a better job of presenting ourselves to the rest of the world.”

Ricketts said looking at Nebraska’s future means looking at the rest of the world.

“We’ve got to continue to be innovative because the world will change,” he said. “But the opportunities are limitless.”

The Grand Island Independent: Hope for Rural Communities

Rural Futures Institute Executive Director Speaks on Hope for Rural Communities

Source: theindependent.com
Posted: Wednesday, October 28, 2015 


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

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

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

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

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

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

The six factors are:

– Leadership that matters: Leaders in a community must actively say: “We’re not fine with where we are. Here’s where we’d like to go; let’s figure out the steps that will take us there.”

– Hopeful vision backed by grit.

– Deliberate efforts to invite others into leadership roles, including people who might not otherwise participate.

– Not letting fear be a barrier.

– Willingness to invest in community.

– Strong social networks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Igniting Powerful Action

Igniting Powerful Action
with Dr. Denise A. Trudeau Polkas, leadership coach with Blue Egg Leadership and SynoVation Valley Leadership Academy

We live in the age of overflowing resources. You have the opportunity to Pick YOUR TOMATOES and chose from dozens of resources at any given time. Only you have the power to use these resources as INGREDIENTS that will create the best “SECRET SAUCE” of your life! We all have great ideas STEWING in our minds and hearts. We have the power to choose, create and make bold moves! Discover how to take ACTION with your dream of starting or expanding a business, your idea of contributing to local communities and invent bold ways to make a positive impact for those around us. Join us to help you CREATE, STEW and PRESERVE your “BEST RECIPE” for action!

November 17, 2015
Central Community College-Ord Learning Center | 1514 K Street | Ord, Nebraska
9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Register to attend at : cyn.nebraska.edu
Cost: $25 | Pay at the door
Lunch will be included

View Flyer

View Agenda

Hosted by: Central Community College-Ord Learning Center
Sponsored by: Connecting Young Nebraskans, SynoVation Valley Leadership Academy

2015-16 Heuermann Series to kick off with Buffetts

How every person can play an important role in solutions to local, national and global challenges will be the focus of the first Heuermann series event of the 2015-2016 season on Oct. 21.

Howard G. Buffett and Howard W. Buffett will take part in a discussion moderated by Ronnie Green, University of Nebraska vice president, IANR Harlan vice chancellor and interim senior vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The discussion, which is free and open to the public, will be at 5 p.m. at the Nebraska Innovation Campus auditorium, 2021 Transformation Drive.

The Buffetts will discuss how to find solutions to some of the most challenging problems facing society. Together, they co-authored the New York Times bestseller “40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World,” which examines global agriculture, hunger and food systems challenges.

Howard G. Buffett is chairman and CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, a private charitable foundation working to catalyze transformational change in the most impoverished areas of the world. He oversees three foundation-operated research farms in Illinois, Arizona and South Africa; a family farm in central Illinois; and farms with his son in Nebraska. Buffett serves as the undersheriff in Macon County, Illinois. He has traveled to 139 countries and authored eight books on conservation, wildlife and the human condition. He serves on the corporate boards of Berkshire Hathaway, Lindsay Corporation and the Coca-Cola Company. In 2005, the UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications recognized Buffett’s contributions to journalism with the Will Owen Jones Distinguished Journalist of the Year Award.

Howard W. Buffett is a lecturer at UNL and Columbia University, where he teaches on topics related to international and public affairs, philanthropy, and food and agricultural policy. He also serves on the Board of Counselors for the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Buffett resides in Omaha, where he operates a 400-acre farm enrolled in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Stewardship Program.

The discussion is in conjunction with the third national Rural Futures Conference, hosted by the Rural Futures Institute. The conference presents opportunities for people to work together to build hope and develop a vision for invigorating rural communities. In addition to Nebraska Innovation Campus, the conference will take place at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis. For more information and to register, visit http://rfc.nebraska.edu.

The Heuermann Lectures are made possible through a gift from B. Keith and Norma Heuermann of Phillips. The Heuermanns are longtime university supporters with strong commitment to Nebraska’s production agriculture, natural resources, rural areas and people.

The lectures focus on providing and sustaining enough food, natural resources and renewable energy for the world’s people, and on securing the sustainability of rural communities where the vital work of producing food and renewable energy occurs. Lectures stream live at http://heuermannlectures.unl.edu and are archived at that site soon after the event. They also air on NET2 World at a later date.

Posted in General, Ag news on Friday, October 9, 2015.

Rural Futures Conference in the News

Ingredients for Success for Rural Nebraska »

Omaha World-Herald

2 Howard Buffetts talk about hunger, gender at Rural Futures Conference »

Omaha World-Herald

Buffetts speak at Rural Futures Conference, tell Small Communities to Find Hope, Solutions »

The Republic

Hope and Vision for Rural Communitites »

Radio 570 WNAX

Ricketts: The Impact of Rural Communities »

North Platte Bulletin

Recapping Nebraska’s 2015 Rural Futures Conference »

Nebraska Manufacturing Advisory Council

Rural Opportunities Fair to connect students, rural communities

University of Nebraska students will have a unique opportunity to connect with representatives of nearly 40 communities, companies and organizations at the first-ever Rural Opportunities Fair, to be held Oct. 21 in Lincoln as a special kickoff to the Rural Futures Conference.

The Rural Opportunities Fair will allow students to explore internship and job possibilities with community and business representatives who are looking to recruit young talent, as well as leadership, social and entrepreneurial opportunities that exist for students throughout rural Nebraska. The fair goes from noon to 2 p.m. in the Nebraska East Union on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus. It is hosted by the University of Nebraska’s Rural Futures Institute. All NU students interested in living and working in a rural community are invited to attend the fair at no cost.

“There is a huge disconnect between what youth have been told about rural Nebraska and the actual opportunities that exist,” said Greg Ptacek, economic development director of the City of Neligh, which will be represented at the fair. “Hopefully, the one-on-one conversations will spark a change in attitude toward rural as a viable life option for this next generation.”

 Companies and organizations that will be represented at the fair include the Central Nebraska Economic Development District, Department of Rural Health, Intern Nebraska, Nebraska State Bar Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Fields where internship or job opportunities will be available include agribusiness, agronomy, community planning, education, engineering, entrepreneurship, accounting and finance, healthcare, information technology, marketing and communications, natural resources, veterinary and animal sciences and others.

 “We hope to try and attract a younger, revitalized workforce and bring new ideas and energy to Auburn,” said Kim Beger, Auburn Development Council Treasurer. “We are pleased to be partnering with the University of Nebraska on events like these as they provide Auburn and rural Nebraska exposure and an opportunity to show our successes. Auburn’s hope is to connect with some NU students that can help fill the professional workforce needs that are becoming available by our current developing industries and the current retiring workforce.”

 Kristina Foth, assistant director of Valley County Economic Development and the Chamber of Commerce, said: “The Rural Opportunities Fair will provide Valley County with an opportunity we have been searching for, allowing us to heighten our recruitment efforts and make intentional connections with potential workforce. Relationships we have cultivated with NU students in the past and new connections we hope to foster have great potential to enhance business activity and contribute to significant growth for local businesses in Valley County.”

 The Rural Opportunities Fair is part of the third Rural Futures Conference, which is Oct. 21-23. Registration for the conference, which will be offered both in Lincoln and Curtis, is currently open at http://rfc.nebraska.edu. The conference drew a sold-out crowd of more than 500 when it was last held in 2013.

2015 Rural Futures Conference Oct. 21-22 at NCTA


“Hope Inspires Vision” is the theme of the third national Rural Futures Conference, scheduled for Oct. 21-23 in two Nebraska locations, including the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis.

Registration for the conference, which drew a sold-out crowd of more than 500 when it was last held in 2013, is currently open at http://rfc.nebraska.edu. The conference is hosted by the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska.

Attendees from the Curtis area will be able to participate in this year’s conference at NCTA on Oct. 21 and 22. Registration is $100 for the Curtis location ($20 for high school and college students). The conference also will be offered at Nebraska Innovation Campus in Lincoln.

“The Rural Futures Institute has been known for its ingenuity since its start, and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture is pleased to be a partner in taking that innovation one step further by hosting the conference simultaneously here in Curtis,” said Ron Rosati, NCTA dean.

“Entrepreneurs, business leaders, agricultural producers and students from high schools and colleges throughout the region will be joining us at NCTA to share in this live, rural perspective close to where we work and live,” Rosati said.

Conference sessions will encourage attendees to work together to build hope and develop a vision for invigorating rural communities, he added.

The conference kicks off on the evening of Oct. 21 with a dialogue session between Howard G. Buffett and Howard W. Buffett, authors of 40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World, a book about the limited opportunities people have to make a difference in the world.

Ronnie Green, NU vice president of agriculture and natural resources and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs and Harlan Vice Chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources, will moderate the dialog.

The Buffetts’ session, “Finding Hope: Pioneering Your 40 Chances,” is free and open to the public and is jointly sponsored with the Heuermann Lectures at IANR. NCTA participants are invited for pre-session refreshments at 4:45 p.m. at NCTA’s Nebraska Agriculture Industry Education Center.

Other conference speakers include Clifton Taulbert, a noted author, entrepreneur and businessman who is president and CEO of the Freemount Corp., a human capital development company; and Shane Lopez, author of Making Hope Happen and a leading Gallup researcher on the science of hope. University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds will make opening remarks, “Dream Big With Me,” on the morning of Oct. 22.

“We know that hope matters tremendously to the success of rural communities,” said Chuck Schroeder, founding executive director of the Rural Futures Institute. “Active hope, combined with a strong vision for the future, can energize rural people and places and ensure that rural communities are a viable choice for young people to live and work.”

Speakers involved at the Curtis site are Anne Burkholder, Will Feed, Inc., Cozad; Ben Blecha, Ace Ortho Solutions, Benkelman; Ken Rahjes, AgView, Elwood; Sarah Pinet, Victory Hill Farm, Scottsbluff; and Barry Fox, Kinkaider Brewing Company, Broken Bow. Educators from four NCTA partner high schools will be bringing students and participating as well on Oct 22. They are from Cambridge, Cozad, Elm Creek and York.

“Our first two conferences in 2012 and 2013 confirmed our thinking that the long-term economic success of rural communities is a critical area for research and engagement – one in which the University of Nebraska is well-positioned to play a leadership role,” Schroeder adds. “We’re excited to again bring together stakeholders from Nebraska and beyond to share our best ideas.”

 Other conference sessions will focus on entrepreneurship, broadband development, civic engagement, transdisciplinary education, eco-education, innovation and youth leadership. Faculty and students also will have the opportunity to present posters on research questions that showcase new knowledge and ideas relevant to the conference theme.

“The access for rural residents through the latest in communication technologies is vital for this conference,” Rosati adds. “We hope many will take advantage of this great opportunity here in Curtis.”

Activities at Lincoln include the first-ever Rural Opportunities Fair on Oct. 21, an event similar to a career fair in which students will have a chance to explore opportunities to live and work in rural communities across Nebraska and the region. Conference activities on Oct. 23 in Lincoln include remarks from Gov. Pete Ricketts, breakout sessions, a panel discussion and closing remarks from Schroeder.

Complete conference details with a full agenda, registration information, speaker biographies, poster session guidelines and more, are available at http://rfc.nebraska.edu.

Up-to-date information can also be found by following the Rural Futures Institute on Twitter and Facebook and by using #RFC2015 on social media.

About the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska

The Rural Futures Institute (RFI) is one of four interdisciplinary institutes at the University of Nebraska that leverages talents and research-based expertise from across the university’s campuses. The RFI, through a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, encourages bold and futuristic approaches to collaboratively address state, national and global challenges.

Editor’s note: Members of the media are welcome to attend any part of the Rural Futures Conference at no charge. Contact Kayla or Mary for details about the Lincoln or Curtis locations, respectively.