Cozad, Neb.

Host Team

  • Jen McKeone (Lead)
  • Susan Kloepping
  • Laura Rody
  • Kirk Riley
  • Laurie Yocum

Christy Cooper

Hometown: Waverly, NE
Campus: University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Major: Agricultural Education

Shelby Utech

Hometown: Hubbard, NE
Campus: University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Major: Agricultural Economics

About Cozad, Neb.

About The Serviceship Experience

Christy and Shelby, along with their host Jen McKeone, worked on several different projects. The Cozad Development Corporation had the team busy the entire time they were there. All of their project revolved around “placemaking”-they wanted to make Cozad the place to be.


Music Mondays

Christy and Shelby were able to activate the future town square space with a weekly event in June. There were food vendors and music performances.


As a team the girls helped run the Biz Kids Camp. This camp was to help young middle school kids start their own businesses. There were 10 businesses that were launched at the first Music Monday. CDC came up with their own version of “Shark Tank” called “Pitch it Cozad”. The girls got to help organize and run this event. They got to help award two winners!

First Impressions

Christy got to help with the First Impressions project. Cozad and Ogallala teamed up to improve the first impressions of their towns. Each community sent a group to the other town to do some research. They were “secret shoppers” and learned what was special about each town. Christy and Shelby compiled the information and shared it with the communities.


The team went out and mapped the entire community, marking which streets were paved and which ones were not. This will help the city know what steps need to be taken next.


The team got to attend several conferences throughout the summer including:


In addition to their many accomplishments, Christy and Shelby are quick to point out that they fell in love with Cozad. They enjoyed the community and work week so much that they tried to spend most of the weekends there as well. They found many folks were surprised when they told them how great their little town was, and they hoped they boosted the moral of those they came in contact. They reminded the community of the benefits of living in Cozad, and aimed to show them how great rural living can be!


Final Presentation


Weekly Updates

July 13, 2018

Most recently, Jen and Christy headed to Lincoln for the Nebraska Diplomats Banquet and the Nebraska Governor’s Economic Development Summit. The Nebraska Diplomats are a group of community leaders who use their personal and professional connections to promote the state’s quality of life for future business. Our lead mentor, Jen, was asked to speak about our Pitch It in Cozad project at the Governor’s Summit the next day. Governor Pete Ricketts applauded Cozad’s work during his final remarks. It was an incredible opportunity to network with other community leaders and hear the great work they are doing.

“It’s time to think differently about our small communities. Cozad is taking a creative approach to solving challenges,” Christy said.

All Week Eight Updates

June 15, 2018

Hustle – that’s what the last two weeks have been like for us. Between our first and second rounds of Music Monday and the Nebraska Economic Developers Association (NEDA) Conference in Gothenburg, Neb., we have been constantly on the move.

Music Mondays have had absolutely rave reviews. It is so encouraging to see a community come together for music and food – not just once, but weekly. The concerts have attracted people of all ages; everyone from young children to the residences of the assisted living facility, Meadowlark Pointe. We are very grateful for the many community members and city workers who volunteer to help us set up and tear down the temporary fencing and picnic tables. The attendance of Music Mondays has been outstanding and is continuing to increase. The first week we had 275 guests and this week we had almost 400! Music Mondays have been so successful we’ve had to book additional food trucks to accommodate everyone. The musicians we have hosted so far are Formally Three, Samantha Schutte and Lana Greene.

All Week Four Updates

June 1, 2018

In Cozad, we hit the ground running during our first couple of weeks. We’ve attending multiple meetings including, but not limited to, Cozad City Council, Rotary, and the Cozad Development Corporation Citizens Board. We’ve already gotten one project almost wrapped up and are working hard on several small tasks that have been overlooked for too long. The people in Cozad are marvelous—we can’t wait to build more connections in town!

The past two weeks, Shelby assisted with Cozad’s first Biz Kids Camp. There were ten middle school students that had four days of classroom instruction from Janita Pavelka, Entrepreneurship Educator. Shelby shared some of her entrepreneurial experiences with the students as well as helped prepare them to start their businesses. The biz kid students learned from local entrepreneurs and businesspeople, the UNL-Extension EntrepreneurShip Investigation curriculum, which led to everyone starting a new business.  Shelby will help these students launch their businesses at Music Monday in Cozad on June 4th.

All Week Two Updates