Fellows Week 4: Custer County

Hailey and Megan are both loving their experience in Custer County so far! They are working on a variety of projects over the course of their time in Custer County. Although they are staying in Broken Bow, they aren’t just working on projects there. The two of them will be working on projects in Arnold and Callaway as well.

Megan’s first project that she is focusing on is an “Intern Connection” project that will bring all of the interns within Broken Bow closer together to help them have a sense of belonging to the community. The first event that will bring all of the interns together will be June 20th. This event will be taking place along with the “Third Thursday on the Square” in Broken Bow that has live music, food, games, and fun for all ages.

Additionally, she is working on creating a Custer County passport. The purpose of this passport is to bring awareness to the hidden gemstones that each community in Custer County has to offer. She has spent her time touring Custer County’s communities to see what each community has that makes it unique and special compared to the communities within the county.

The final project that she is focusing on for Broken Bow is “The Barn.” The Barn is the visitor center for Broken Bow and is apart of the Sandhills Scenic Byway. Her goal is to increase awareness, create more events, generate revenue and drive more traffic to The Barn.

Hailey is working individually on two projects, the first is taking new pictures to market the community. The pictures of many of the buildings and events throughout Custer County are outdated. Hailey will be taking pictures of many of the main areas and attracts in Custer County.

For Hailey’s second project, she is working with a local nonprofit called Capable.

Capable runs a year-long program called Youth Leadership in Custer County (YLCC) for high school students throughout Custer County. Hailey is helping to rework the structure of the program to shift to a design thinking and entrepreneurship perspective.

Together the two of them are working side by side in Callaway and Arnold. In Callaway, they are currently interviewing business owners as well as community members to assess their needs. After collecting their data, they will evaluate it and move forward with what is the

greatest need in the community. In Arnold, they are working on business and housing improvement/development. They are assisting in evaluating the current state of houses/business in order to qualify for federal assistance from the government to improve the community.

Some events that they have gotten to experience in their few weeks in Custer County include Market on the Square, various ribbon cuttings, and the Muddy Creek Festival in Ansley. The Market on the Square takes place every Thursday from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm. The ribbon cuttings served as a great opportunity for the two individuals to meet key stakeholders in the community and the county. By attending the ribbon cuttings, they got the opportunity to get connected with the journalist at the Custer County Chief where she interviewed the two of them.

As Hailey and Megan have interacted with numerous community members over the past few weeks, there was one quote in particular that stood out to both of them, “Be open to what we don’t know.” After hearing that quote it put life into a different perspective for the two RFI fellows. The first time Megan and Hailey went through each community, they had the opportunity to meet community members and business owners. Nearly every person they met told them how happy they were for two to be in community, and couldn’t wait to see the work they did. This was a very eye-opening experience for the two, they got to see they weren’t just impacting the community, but also the people in it.