Episode 0: Intro! Intersecting technology, leadership and rural-urban collaboration




Through the Rural Futures podcast, host Dr. Connie Reimers-Hild, associate executive director and chief futurist at the Rural Futures Institute (RFI) at the University of Nebraska, and producer Katelyn Ideus, RFI director of communications, connect achievers, mavericks and doers in both rural and urban communities, organizations and companies to bring forward a thriving high-touch, high-tech combined future.

In this introductory episode they share their educational, career and personal backgrounds as well as their goals for the show. Throughout season 1, listeners can expect to hear from researchers, entrepreneurs and innovators from healthcare, agriculture, education, technology and from communities around the country.

The calls to action for this episode — let us know what questions and ideas you have to make this a valuable experience for you and subscribe where you listen, so you don’t miss a weekly episode!


Connie Reimers-Hild, Associate Director, Rural Futures Institute
“A lot of leadership theory developed in a different era. What we really want do is focus on the mavericks, those doers who are doing cool things already, really leading themselves but, at the same time, leading communities of change and purpose.”
Dr. Connie Reimers-Hild
Host & Futurist

More from Dr. Connie




More from Katelyn



Show Notes

Hi, I’m Dr. Connie Reimers-Hild, host of the Rural Futures podcast, and today we’re introducing episode zero.  We’d really like you to subscribe. Right now I’d like to introduce our executive producer, Katelyn Ideus.

Hi, Connie! Yes, I’m so excited. I’m Katelyn, this is episode zero of Rural Futures. We’ve been planning this for such a long time. So, Connie, why don’t you tell everyone a little bit about your professional background and your personal life.

Absolutely. I’m kind of an odd hard/social science mix,  which is great to be a futurist, right?

Absolutely, it fits perfectly. Yeah, so, I mean that’s kind of where the futurist lens I think comes in to, to kind of bring that all together. But I have a bachelor’s degree in natural resources, a master’s degree in entomology, which is the study of insects for anybody not familiar with that concept. My PhD is in human sciences and leadership studies and my goal with those degrees was to blend the hard and social sciences together in an effort to help people become more entrepreneurial and create innovation for a more positive future. On the personal side, I’m married, I’m a mom, I’m a wiener dog lover. I think anyone that’s ever had a class with me or associated with me knows that. But I very much am focused on family and value quality of life as well as technology and some of the cool things we see emerging. I have a keen interest in how the planet sort of will continue to evolve over time with all the exponential change we’re seeking now. Alright, so that’s probably enough about me. People will get to know me more as the podcast moves forward but what about you Katelyn?

Alright, thanks, Connie. I am a communicator, I’ve been a communicator my whole career. I was a journalism undergrad and then I have a master’s degree in PR and marketing. Really what I kind of tell people is I’m a storyteller. The journalism, news ed, and broadcast background, I always thought I would be a newspaper writer and then newspapers have really changed, right? So I have really embraced kind of the digital side of storytelling and this frequent content, right? Even as a communications professional and an organization, you’re a publisher these days. So it’s really, really fun. And then from the kind of rural perspective, I did not grow up in a rural community. A lot of times people are surprised by that, being the communications director for the Rural Futures Institute. But I actually grew up in several large cities, and so I think it’s kind of a cool, I bring kind of a cool perspective. I do live in the country now. I did marry a part-time farmer, so that kind of comes with the territory. Absolutely.

And I think that background has really helped position the Rural Futures Institute in a different way and is really one of the reasons for the podcast, right? Is to get these stories out and create global conversations around, you know, what we’ve seen happening in terms of, not just rural, but rural and urban, and bringing those two worlds together in a thoughtful way that benefits everyone. And I think your unique perspective really helps us be able to do that in a very proactive but also positive way that’s translational for the listeners in terms of those takeaways that we want to make sure they have.

And what are you, I mean, who are the types of people, I mean obviously we’ve had this conversation a lot of times of who are our listeners and I’ve always, yes, they’re leaders, but I think we have, we’ve talked about being careful, right? With that term leader, too, because it’s like, you know, a lot of people don’t self-identify as a leader but if you’re an achiever, if you’re a doer, if you’re kind of a gritty person in your rural community, or in a start up business, whether that’s rural or urban, I think it’s all of these different types of leaders. Talk more about that.

Yeah, I think you’re spot on. I mean, I think part of what we’re missing somewhat in leadership was a lot of leadership theory developed in a different era. You know, I lead this organization, I’m leading these people. What we really want to do is focus on the mavericks, those doers who are doing cool things already, really leading themselves but at the same time leading communities of change and purpose. I think sometimes we’re not focused enough on that and in an era of exponential change like we’re in right now, we’re gonna need more of that whether it’s in a university or in a community, in a private business, because things are changing so quickly we need leaders to be able to adapt but be very entrepreneurial and innovative at the same time.

Right, right. One of the things, too, that we’ve talked about that I think is interesting and even some of the guests that we’ve already started lining up are having a little trouble saying, “Okay, so what’s the connection to rural?” Right? And I think, though that’s, right there is our purpose, is we are making this connection even for some of these, I mean, kind of high-flying leaders and entrepreneurs in this space. You are connected to rural, we all are in some way. And we’re not gonna force that on anyone or anything but I think it’s great perspective.

Yeah, I mean, I think what one thing that we’ve seen happen is rural and urban have become very polarized, right? And so people either talk about rural or urban. But at the Rural Futures Institute, we’ve really thought about how do we those conversations together. We do live in a globalized society and that’s only going to increase as more people become connected and we have major companies now investing and connecting the billions of people who are not yet connected and most of them reside in rural. So everybody has a stake in this game. And as those people become connected, how does that change business, how does that change life?

Not just in those rural communities but the urban communities as well, and how do we all thrive together in this planet. I mean, I think it’s great to think about going to Mars and colonizing Mars, and all these really futurist things, but some of the questions I think we ask which are so interesting are how do we make it better here now? You know, and into the future for your kids, my kids, those next generations that, you know, we want them to be able to choose where they want to live and have the life they want to live whether they’re here or somewhere else.

Absolutely. So you talked about some of the questions we’re going to ask. So tell our listeners, give them a sneak peak of some of the questions we might be asking.

Absolutely. You know, I want to dive into leadership, of course. How do they define themselves as leaders. But I also really want to know that personal side of leadership because I think along with the technology and sort of scientific types of changes we’re also seeing changes in our social structure and our social fabric, the social norms. You know, as more people are working and dual-career couples, for example, or not having kids or, you know, balancing life in different ways or even questioning why is the work day set up the way it is? How can we change that? Why is school set up the way it is? How do we continue to change that? You know, diving into their thoughts around that and how they’re creating lives that work for them because a lot of these mavericks are doing that. They’re questioning the norms, right? But they’re also setting a new standard at the same time. And that’s causing a bit of controversy and conflict in our society, but at the same time, from that I think can create, be creative opportunities that really advance our society in positive ways if we choose to direct the future in that way. I want to know what they do for fun. I mean, really, it’s like sometimes I think we see these thought-leaders and it’s so serious and it’s like, “Oh, you know, how are you growing your business? “How are you doing this?” But they’re people. You know? And that human side I think is so important. And also what do they see as the major changes happening in their industries? You know? How do they see technology changing, but how do they also see that influencing workforce development, jobs, new opportunities in the future?

And how are they integrating different cultures together? We talked about this I think yesterday. It’s just how are, how are some people’s leadership styles just different because of how, of their experiences or their culture or how they were raised? How can we learn from that and kind of adapt to that and change? I mean, it’s just an interesting, I think they’re interesting topics. And we’re gonna ask them to tell a lot of stories, too. Right? That’s one thing, too, that I think, Connie and I listen to a lot of podcasts so we don’t want this to be very structured or, or super serious, like you said, but more storytelling and really giving some, some good value and some good takeaways that our listeners can put into action in their job or in their home or in their communities.

Yeah we want people to get something out of this. You know, if you’re gonna invest your valuable time into listening we want you to have those takeaways that matter to you but that’s where we need listeners to help guide us through that process as well. You know, we don’t want to just create something and keep going down a path. We really want to hear from people. You know, who should we have on? What are some things that people want to know? You know, we want this to be like a co-creative process, very highly interactive, so we get better and we better serve our audience. You know, it’s an experiment for us, too. Something new for both of us and so I’m excited that our team at Rural Futures and embarking on this journey and really then opening up our engagement beyond where we are physically and into this global, very virtual world so we can really crowd source this whole conversation.

Absolutely. And I think we should say here with that, it’s obviously, the Rural Futures Institute is located at the University of Nebraska in Nebraska, and we’re very passionate about Nebraska, but I think what we’re trying to do with this is, is bring Nebraska out to the world and then bring some more of the world into Nebraska. So it’s very much this kind of perspective-building that we’re looking to do.

And we can only do it with our listeners so we appreciate hearing from you.