Gena McPherson

Gena McPherson

Ravenna Chamber of Commerce

Executive Director

Ravenna, Neb.

Graduate of the Central Community College-Hastings, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and College of St. Mary

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2020 Experience

Focus: Community and Economic Development, Community Marketing

Ravenna has a long list of projects the students will focus on, including organizing and running a Big Idea competition, research planning and fundraising for a bike and hike trail, and increasing civic engagement by encouraging residents to subscribe to a community texting notification service to receive community updates via text messaging. In addition, students will use existing and new photographs and video to create marketing materials for the community.

Students: Connor McFayden, Kori SiebertAndromede Uwase, Ethan Weiche
Peer: Amber Ross

Sponsored By: Ravenna Chamber of Commerce, Ravenna Economic Development Corporation

Gena’s Nebraska Story

I grew up on a farm just outside of Ravenna, NE. I went off to college at Hastings CCC, then to Lincoln to UNL, as well as College of St. Mary as I worked at Allstate. I met my husband, Cedric, at this time. We moved to Kearney while he finished his education at UNK following a long tour to Iraq. We then moved back to Ravenna as I became a full time caretaker for both of my parents that had cancer. My parents have now passed, we have two amazing children we have adopted through foster care, and I am now the Chamber Director and my husband works from home for a company called Farmers Edge (Farming App).

What do you hope to gain from this experience?

We hope to gain some much needed assistance with several projects that have been sitting on the back burner. We are also hoping that working with a younger, more energized generation will help bring new perspective and ideas to the table for our town.

We are more specifically hoping to gain potential assistance with the following projects: The following is a crazy long list! I am attempting to just lay out all that we could use assistance on as these are all projects that we are trying to tackle on any given day. In no way do we expect to accomplish it all, rather, allow for students to go through this and see where their strengths are and see what they gravitate towards.

If the City or any organization has projects that they would like to have the interns work on we can definitely add those projects to this list.

Why do you think it important community leaders have this type of experience in terms of inclusive leadership development?

I think most small towns are struggling right now with communication, transparency, and leadership. If we were able to be more inclusive among our current organizations as well as more inclusive with community members, we would be accomplishing much more and be more efficient at it.

Why is this contribution of students from NU significant to you and your community?

First of all, it is a relief to know we will have some help for a change! We are also excited to brainstorm and incorporate fresh ideas and perspectives. As of right now, we have several organizations coming together to fund this project as they believe in it and are vested in it for the sake of the community and the opportunities it brings to the table.

Why is rural important?

Many people think rural means agriculture, and that is a large and very important part of rural, however it is much more than that. Rural is often the base for innovation through making the space many need to be creative in and to live a secure/fulfilling life. Even though we tend to be more spaced out in rural communities and areas, it is amazing how closely everyone works together. For these reasons, rural is extremely important and will truly always be the driving force of what makes everything work.