Fellows Week 3: Grand Island

Written by Angela Beltran & Alyssa Ehler

Wow what a busy few weeks it has been! Grand Island has proven to be a dynamic, fun, and diverse community, and we hit the ground running from day 1!

We started off by getting to know what our Community Lead Mentors Sandra and Griselda due with Nebraska Extension Community Vitality Initiative and REAP (Rural Enterprise Assistance Program) respectively. Also, during out first week, we were invited to attend a mental health training program specifically targeted to help youth. After the floods in Nebraska and the immigration raids in O’Neil awareness of the importance of mental health has been growing and the week after we were able to attend a workshop focused on adults. 

In our first weeks here, we participated in a few of the programs that the Latino Small Business program hosts for the community, a marketing workshop, a women’s conference, and a cleaning academy. We also sat in on meetings with several entrepreneurs and were able to see how this program assists from start to finish with the start up process. 

We also got to visit the All of Us truck. All of Us is a research program that has been touring across the United States to create a database of information from underrepresented groups and to educate people of the many influences that impact health to create a future of precision medicine that is inclusive to all.

Our most recent meeting was with Mayor Roger Steele, who came to Nebraska Extension to visit with the Grand Island Latino Network. We were able learn from Mayor Steele about the current efforts to ensure Grand Island is inclusive and accessible to all and share our insight of how Grand Island can continue to progress. 

We have also started working on a variety of projects. One of our main projects this summer is analyzing the training topics covered by the Latino Small Business Program and areas of community need. We have already started to develop 4 workshops including Facebook for Business and a multi week mental health program. For the mental health workshops, we were able to partner with a graduate student from UNO who returned to Grand Island for his internship and is working at the Friendship Home. We are so excited to bring accessible mental health training in Spanish to the citizens of Grand Island. 

The Latino Small Business Program helps many entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams. To share these stories with all of Nebraska, we are filming videos of some of the business owners that have been helped by Nebraska Extension and REAP. 

Our biggest project is to help promote 4th Street, which is the center of Latino entrepreneurship in Grand Island. We are working to ensure that these business owners are equipped with the tools and leadership training needed to make 4th Street a welcoming, diverse, attraction in Grand Island and to create a united business district downtown. 

We are excited to continue working with people from all parts of the community in Grand Island!

We were able to sit in on the Grand Island Latino Network’s meeting with Mayor Steele (Grey Suit on the left) it was an awesome opportunity to share with community leaders what we’ve been working on and learn about Grand Island. 

Who doesn’t love smoothies and tea?! We stopped by Big Red Nutrition one of the businesses UNL Extension helped start in Hastings!

Alyssa is pointing out an interesting fact that she noticed when we visited the All of Us truck. 
We all learned something new, such as all blue eyed people relate back to one person!