Ethan Weiche



University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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Focus: Workforce Development and Job Training

The students will focus on conducting a feasibility study to develop a job training program in partnership with the Fairbury Public School District and private sector employers to address labor shortages within Jefferson County. The goal is to graduate more high school seniors into career-ready or near career-ready positions in fields that have labor shortages throughout Nebraska. Projects will also address local housing gaps for high risk populations and clearly defined segments of housing shortages.

Students: Connor McFaydenEthan Weiche
Innovators: Crystal DeweyTwilya L’Ecuyer

Sponsored By: Fairbury Housing Authority

Why did you choose the Fellowship Program?

I chose this experience because it provides a great opportunity to bring about positive change in the world. Moreover, I am looking forward to developing as a leader and someone capable of helping others.

What do you hope to gain?

As someone who has spent the majority of their life in large cities, I am, more than anything, excited to catch a glimpse of how life is in rural America, however brief the experience. That is to say, I am eager to gain another perspective on life.

Why is it important that students develop inclusive leadership development?

The ability to show empathy for others and ensure every voice is heard is a valuable skill. Not only does the future of the world require that we consider others, but so do the problems we face on a day to day basis. Inclusive leadership is one way of actively seeking out the concerns of people who have historically been underrepresented, and therefore vital to our success as a nation in the years to come.

Why should students work in rural communities?

The situation of rural communities should be one of particular emphasis; not only do they possess the majority of land and natural resources, but they are, more importantly, citizens. As such, I believe we owe a certain level of respect and concern for their situation. Furthermore, living in a rural community gives the student a valuable new perspective on life, which is how we develop empathy for others.

Why is it important students give back to Nebraska?

I think students have been afforded a great opportunity to come and study in the state of Nebraska. For four years, the highest priority of students is to learn and immerse themselves in their chosen field. This is all done in the hopes that they may somehow use their particular knowledge in the future. Therefore, for students in Nebraska, having lived and learned in the state for several years, to help the state and give back to the people only seems right and just.

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

There are a number of important problems related to the entire country and oftentimes densely populated areas attract more resources and attention despite a similar or lesser level of need. As a result, rural communities are more likely to be disproportionately affected when negative events do transpire. I believe that now is a great opportunity simply because there is a significant amount of time and energy required to help rural communities, and everyday that nothing is done we fall further behind. As for ideas, I take myself to be primarily concerned with health and well-being. I am curious how rural communities would receive and alter programs based around physical activity, nutrition, and mental health to better fit their culture and existing attitudes.