Rural Futures Institute program developing young leaders

Emerging young leaders in the state will have the opportunity to participate in a series of professional development events this fall thanks to a program of the University of Nebraska’s Rural Futures Institute that aims to prepare Nebraska’s next generation of rural leaders.

Connecting Young Nebraskans, offered by the Rural Futures Institute, is partnering with five Nebraska communities to offer the professional development opportunities that will help nurture the skills, talents and abilities of young people and meet the unique leadership needs of the region. Each event will be led by a team identified by the respective community; teams will include representatives of area community colleges, private colleges, local chambers of commerce, economic development offices, the Nebraska Community Foundation and Nebraskans for Civic Reform, among others.

“Young leaders have been requesting more opportunities to network and strengthen their skills, and Connecting Young Nebraskans is excited to work with communities and regions to offer professional development opportunities that will help develop future leaders,” said Kayla Schnuelle, coordinator of the program and integrated marketing specialist and young leader coordinator for the Rural Futures Institute.

Connecting Young Nebraskans professional development events are scheduled for the following dates and locations:

  • Sept. 29 in Beatrice: “Be the Change, Be the Leader: Redefining How We Set and Achieve Goals,” 7:30 to 9 a.m. at Southeast Community College
    View Flyer
  • Oct. 1 in Grand Island: “Finding Passion at Work,” 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Home Federal Bank Building
    View Flyer
  • Nov. 12 in Columbus: “Modern Mentorship,” 1 to 4 p.m. plus happy hour at the Henry on 11th Building.
    View Flyer
  • Nov. 17 in Ord: “Igniting Powerful Action Summit,” 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Ord Learning Center.
  • Nov. 18 in Seward: “Achieving Successful Intergenerational Communication in the Workplace,” 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Seward Memorial Library.
    View Flyer

Detailed programming information, including cost, speaker details and registration information, is available here. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s MBA program is a joint sponsor of the Grand Island and Seward events.

To host one of the events, community leaders submitted proposals to the Rural Futures Institute identifying the unique needs of young leaders in their community. Proposals outlined the challenges young leaders face in the region, as well as ideas on how they could develop skills to address the challenges. Areas for development identified by community leaders including finding a passion at work, mentorship and investment, taking action on big ideas, and finding balance in a young professional’s life.

Connecting Young Nebraskans also hosted an online webinar on Aug. 4 with Nebraskans for Civic Reform and the Nebraska Community Foundation to discuss the 2015 Nebraska Civic Health Index and a new Civic Health Ambassador Program. The webinar was available to young leaders across the state and beyond. A recording is available at

For more information about Connecting Young Nebraskans, visit or follow the program’s Facebook or Twitter accounts.

About Connecting Young Nebraskans
Connecting Young Nebraskans is a program of the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska. The Rural Futures Institute believes that young leaders are a vital part of communities and that they should be included in the community leadership structure. When young leaders’ growth and development is embraced, their ambitions can be harnessed to energize communities across the nation.

Infographic Showing Occupation of CYN Members

About the Rural Futures Institute
Through a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, the Rural Futures Institute mobilizes the diverse resources of the University of Nebraska and its partners to support rural communities and regions in building upon their unique strengths and assets to achieve their desired futures. Learn more at

CYN co-hosts young leader professional development opportunities

The Grand Island Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Connecting Young Nebraskans (CYN) and the University of Nebraska- Lincoln College of Business Administration will host “Finding Passion at Work”, a learning seminar open to the public, on Thursday, October 1, 2015 at 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Community Room at the Home Federal Bank Building, 3311 West Stolley Park Road.

“Finding Passion at Work”, presented by Dr. Tammy Beck, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and External Engagement for the College of Business Administration at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, was one of five topics identified as a challenge facing many young leaders. The seminar will focus on the benefits of job crafting, which helps individuals find greater meaning in their work by playing to personal strengths and aligning with their values and passions.

At the conclusion of this seminar, attendees will leave with an action plan to help map and implement job crafting at their workplace, and the ability to cope with future adversity.

This seminar series, a shared effort between Connecting Young Nebraskans, a program of the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska, and five Nebraska communities, is aimed at fostering the development of young leaders to meet unique leadership needs of the region. Seminar topics range from finding your passion at work, mentorship and investment, taking action on big ideas, and finding balance in a young professional’s life. Each of the five communities were selected after submitting proposals identifying unique needs of young leaders in their community. The proposals outlined the challenges young leaders face in their region, and ideas to develop skills around these challenges that will appeal to young leaders in their region.

Kayla Schnuelle, coordinator of the Connecting Young Nebraskans Network and Marketing Communications Specialist for the Rural Futures Institute, said, “Young leaders have been requesting more opportunities to network and strengthen their skills and CYN is excited to work with communities and regions to offer professional development opportunities that will help develop future leaders.”

To register for this event, please contact Jessica Hendricks, Director of Workforce & Community Development for the Chamber of Commerce, before September 29 at 308.382.9210 or

Cost of attendance is $10.

NCRCRD Webinar: Are We Entrepreneurs?


Using Ourselves as a Case Study to Measure the Impact of a Web-based Outreach Project

Hosted by Connie Reimers-Hild , Glenn Muske and Connie Hancock

Thursday, September 10, 2015
11:00 AM Central Time / 12:00 PM Eastern Time

Join the Webinar

Download Calendar Event

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

In partnership with Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska, North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality and Nebraska Extension

About the webinar:

Creating content may be the easiest part of digital outreach! Join us for this webinar and hear the story of three Extension professionals and an UNL intern as they embarked on a journey filled with social media challenges and discovery. This multi-state Extension team used themselves and the Power of Business multi-state Extension initiative ( as a business case study by following the information they provide many entrepreneurs: Create a plan and measure the results.

This webinar will provide findings from a study funded by the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development focused on:

  • Strengthening Extension’s support of entrepreneurs while also,
  • Determining the best ways to reach business owners with information designed to help them grow various aspects of their enterprises.

Experiences and information from this study are designed to help other Extension programs and professionals act more like entrepreneurs with their outreach efforts by:

  • Increasing their capacity to reach clientele through marketing efforts
  • Assessing the impact of Next Generation Extension practices with social media

About the Speakers:

Connie Reimers-Hild, PhD, CPC is the Associate Director for the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska (

Glenn Muske, PhD is Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist with NDSU Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality (

Connie Hancock, is a Community Vitality Initiative Educator with Nebraska Extension (

To participate

  • To join the webinar go to, “enter as a guest” is by default already chosen.
  • Type your name into the text box provided, and click on “Enter Room”. You are now in the meeting room for the webinar.
  • To facilitate Q&A’s, participants submit questions/comments via the Chat Function in Adobe Connect.
  • NOTE: Adobe Connect is not compatible with CHROME – use either EI or Firefox as your browser.
  • The webinar will be recorded and archived at

To receive these announcements directly, or to correct errors in our distribution list, please email

Civic Health Webinar hosted by Connecting Young Nebraskans

We would like to thank everyone who attended the 2015 Civic Health webinar. If you were unable to attend, but are interested in learning more about this project, we invite you to enjoy a recording of the webinar.

Did you know that the youngest Nebraskans are consistently participating the least when it comes to civic engagement? The first-ever Civic Health Index for Nebraska shows that Millennials are the least likely of any age group to do things like volunteer, register to vote, show up to the polls, or contact public officials. However, the new report also shows that young Nebraskans have the potential to powerfully strengthen their communities.

To address this issue, Connecting Young Nebraskans is hosting an educational webinar with the Nebraska Civic Health Partnership on Tuesday, August 4th from noon to 1:00 pm. In addition to sharing information about the 2015 Nebraska Civic Health Index, the webinar will be a place to discuss practices for engaging young people in their communities. The Nebraska Civic Health Partnership is also releasing information about a new Civic Health Ambassador Program, providing an opportunity to connect with community leaders from across the state while improving civic engagement among local leaders.

Join the Conversation

Tuesday, August 4
12:00 – 1:00 p.m. CST

Download Calendar Event

Learn More



Nebraskans for Civic Reform started the Nebraska Civic Health Partnership to bring together non-profits, educational institutions, and foundations dedicated to strengthening civic engagement. The Nebraska Community Foundation, Nebraska Public Policy Center, UNO Service Learning Academy, the UNL Center for Civic Engagement, and the Nebraska State Bar Foundation have gathered to document civic health through the 2015 Civic Health Index, and serve as civic health coaches to improve civic health in the future.

A View from Down Under: Fostering Capable Rural Communities, An Australian Perspective


We would like to thank everyone who attended our presentation of “Fostering Capable Rural Communities” with Dr. Jim Cavaye. If you were unable to attend, but are interested in seeing the view from down under, we invite you to enjoy a recording of today’s webinar here.

With a similar land mass area as the U.S., but only 10% of the population in comparison, Australia is definitely rural. Australia’s rural communities face many of the same challenges as their U.S. counterparts.

This seminar will cover the challenges and opportunities in fostering rural communities, highlighting many of the parallels between the Midwest and Australia. Dr. Cavaye will discuss agricultural viability, the provision of services and maintaining volunteering in communities. He will describe innovative local economic development initiatives, the effects of mining and coal seam gas development, a growing women’s movement as well as other principles of community vitality.

Attend in person or online:

Monday, July 13, 1:00 p.m. CST
University of Nebraska–Lincoln East Campus Union
Cottonwood Room

Download Calendar Event

Tuesday, July 14, 10:30 a.m. CST
Live Adobe Connect Presentation

Download Calendar Event

These events are free and open to the public. Pre-registration is not required.

The Presenter: Dr. Jim Cavaye, Associate Professor, The University of Queensland, Australia

Dr. Jim Cavaye, Associate Professor, The University of Queensland, Australia

Dr. Cavaye is an accomplished practitioner, educator and researcher in community development with 30 years’ experience working with rural and regional communities. He has assisted over 120 local communities across Australia and internationally with community appraisals, community engagement processes, community planning and economic development strategies.

‘Hope Inspires Vision’ theme of 3rd Rural Futures Conference

“Hope Inspires Vision” is the theme of the third national Rural Futures Conference, scheduled for Oct. 21-23 in multiple Nebraska locations. Registration for the conference, which drew a sold-out crowd of more than 500 when it was last held in 2013, opens today at The conference is hosted by the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska.

Attendees will be able to participate in this year’s conference from either the Nebraska Innovation Campus conference center in Lincoln or the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis. Registration is $200 for the Lincoln location ($40 for high school and college students) or $100 for the Curtis location ($20 for students).

Conference sessions will encourage attendees to work together to build hope and develop a vision for invigorating rural communities. The conference kicks off on the evening of Oct. 21 with a lecture from 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. The Buffetts’ lecture, “Finding Hope: Pioneering Your 40 Chances,” is free and open to the public and is jointly sponsored with the Heuermann Lectures at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Other keynote speakers at the conference 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. 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. We’re excited to again bring together stakeholders from Nebraska and beyond to share our best ideas.”

Pre-conference events 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. Other sessions throughout the conference will focus on entrepreneurship, broadband development, civic engagement, transdisciplinary education, eco-education, innovation, youth leadership and other topics. 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.

Complete conference details, including a full agenda, registration information, speaker biographies, poster session guidelines and more, are available at 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.

Rural Futures Institute to Host Opportunities Fair


The Rural Futures Institute invites community leaders to come together for the Rural Opportunities Fair on October 21 in Lincoln. This pilot event, in conjunction with the Rural Futures Conference, aims to connect rural communities with university students interested in living and working in rural communities.

Similar to a college or career fair, community representatives will be on campus at the University of Nebraska East Campus Union talking with students about internship and career opportunities. Students will be able to ask questions and learn more about communities in the region. More information is available at:

The Rural Futures Institute (RFI) recognizes the importance of retaining and attracting talented youth to rural communities. Early successes from RFI programs has shown that providing students with positive experiences in rural communities can be of mutual benefit and lead to new opportunities.

Participants at the Rural Opportunities Fair are also invited to register for the Rural Futures Conference at a reduced rate. The conference kicks off following the Rural Opportunities Fair and runs through October 23. The conference is a gathering of faculty, staff, students, and community partners which aims to forge partnerships, encourage bold ideas, and foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship that builds hope and invigorates the rural landscape.

For more information about the Rural Opportunities Fair and the Rural Futures Conference please visit For the latest information follow Rural Futures on Twitter at or Facebook at

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

Rural Futures Institute names new Associate Director

Connie-Reimers-HildThe Rural Futures Institute (RFI) at the University of Nebraska is proud to announce and welcome Dr. Connie Reimers-Hild as the Associate Director. Connie will work closely with the RFI core team to enhance the work of the Institute and to develop strong relationships with NU faculty and external partners.

Connie joins the team from her previous role as Unit Leader and Community Vitality Educator at the Kimmel Education and Research Center in Nebraska City, Nebraska. Kimmel is the first University of Nebraska Extension office in Nebraska funded through a public-private partnership and her role was to blend outreach education with administrative leadership.

Connie has a rich history of co-creating collaborative relationships around leadership, innovation and strategic planning with rural community partners, businesses, stakeholders and educational institutions. She has a working knowledge of rural areas which will provide valuable insight when working with the RFI team to create programs and to provide feedback on the RFI’s competitive grants program.

“We are very excited to welcome Connie to the RFI team. Her background in research and teaching, as well as her work directly in rural communities, are an ideal fit for the Rural Futures Institute” said Chuck Schroeder Executive Director of the Rural Futures Institute. “Not only will she bring a wealth of leadership and strategic planning experience but she will also be a great catalyst in creating hope for rural people and places,” said Schroeder.

Reimers-Hild began the new position on May 1. The joint appointment is a 75% administrative assignment with the Rural Futures Institute (RFI) and a 25% appointment with University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Extension.

New Community Brand Ideas On Agenda at Next Pilger Town Hall Meeting

The fourth in a series of Reinvent Pilger community town hall meetings is scheduled for Thursday, April 16, at the Wisner City Auditorium. The meeting will begin with a BBQ supper at 5:30 p.m. and adjourn by 9 p.m. Since these meetings began in September, they have attracted an average of 130 participants who are interested in contributing innovative ideas and extra efforts to rebuilding the Pilger community after last summer’s devastating storms.

Among community task forces providing updates at the meeting will be one that has been working on possible new brands for the community, to replace “The Town Too Tough to Die.” While that motto has reflected the town’s tenacity and commitment to survive, the task force has been brainstorming ideas that forecast where the community is headed into a new future.

Task Forces that have been working on other community priorities will also be asked to provide progress reports on their activities over the past several months. Among those will be updates on a new community center, as well as plans to replace the convenience store and the restaurant that were destroyed.

Updates will also be provided on plans to revamp the city’s comprehensive plan with help of the Nebraska chapter of the American Planning Association and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Architecture. A special committee that is working on a celebration that will commemorate the first anniversary of the tornadoes will provide a preview of its plans, as well.

Information also will be shared on how the Village of Pilger is working with federal and state agencies to secure financial assistance to replace city-owned infrastructure that was severely damaged or destroyed by last summer’s storms.

Anyone who is interested in the rebuilding of Pilger—city and rural—is invited to attend the Town Hall meeting and to join one of the Task Force teams to contribute to the redevelopment process.

For More Information Contact:
Kim Neiman, Village of Pilger, 402-396-3563
Gene Willers, Midwest Bank, 402-396-3431