RFI Fellows

Meet Our 2020 Fellows!

2021 Community Application

Rural Futures Institute Student, Community Innovation and Faculty Fellows are the inspirational and action-oriented mechanism by which RFI strives toward its mission.

RFI Fellows create meaningful, tangible impact for rural people and places in the areas of:

But it is also more than this.

RFI Fellows is a transformational experience for everyone involved, focusing on developing inclusive leadership capacity.

Through a RFI fellows experience, communities are connected to college students and faculty and students and faculty are connected to rural community mavericks.

A hybrid between service learning and traditional internships, RFI Fellows experiences provide communities with tangible results on important self-defined projects while giving students resume-building work and insight into the career and life opportunities in rural places. In this unique experience, student pairs directly support community efforts as a whole, often serving as the link between many entities.

Community host teams include subject-matter experts and leadership mentors that assist with students’ major projects, connect them with volunteering opportunities, invite them to participate in community events and activities and provide diverse perspectives. RFI trains students and provides support and guidance throughout this experience. All participants learn and share on behalf of rural community growth.

Seventy-four University of Nebraska students have worked and served in 38 Nebraska communities through the previous “serviceship” experience from 2013 to 2018. RFI Student Serviceship was originally developed from a 2013 RFI-funded teaching and engagement project led by Dr. Tom Field, Dr. Lindsay Hastings and Reshell Ray of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.







“This program truly makes a dent in attracting and retaining young talent. Thank you for making a difference for Nebraska!”
Kara Asmus
Workforce Development Coordinator, Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, Columbus, Neb.

An Impactful Experience for Communities & Students

Nebraska Communities

RFI Trains & Places

RFI selects communities and interns through a competitive application and interview process. With RFI facilitation, selected community host teams build out their projects, locate 10-week housing for interns and identify funding to support projects and the interns’ stipends (approximately $12,000 per student pair).

Out-of-State Communities

RFI Trains, You Place

Lead entity identifies community, host team, project, 10-week housing for interns and funding to support projects and the interns’ stipends (approximately $12,000 per student pair). Lead entity may select interns to be trained by RFI or have RFI select stellar University of Nebraska students.


Selected interns complete a one-week leadership and community development course at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in Lincoln, Neb. Pairs of interns work, serve and participate in their host communities for 10 weeks.

Nebraska Extension Course Login