#RFIFellows in Action: Ravenna

Ravenna Community Foundation honors the RFI interns through donating money towards their projects in Ravenna.

By Ethan WeicheConnor McFaydenKori Siebert and Andromede “Andy” Uwase

It’s been three weeks since our last update and we have been busier than ever! Since then we have wrapped up old projects, started new ones, and done more than our fair share of downward dogs (special thanks to Jacquie at Rural Roots Yoga!).

Seeing some of our work start to pay off in the community has been very rewarding. The scavenger hunt night was extremely successful, and we are anticipating a similar outcome for the upcoming community concert. We all agree that being able to see and experience tangible results such as these are a major perk of the job. However, these successes don’t come without their challenges. Every day presents us with new problems to solve, which only makes the process that much more rewarding.

“The fellows have brought enthusiasm and passion into Ravenna and renewed the community’s excitement. Overall they face every challenge with grit and every project with determination.” – Amber Ross, Community Innovation Fellow

Kori & Andy

We have been in full force trying to get as much accomplished before we have to leave. A lot of our time has been put towards marketing and social media to create a stronger online presence. Last Friday we sent out our first monthly newsletter that will go out to all businesses, and we are currently batch working more for the future!

“I never want this experience to end. Ravenna has become my home away from home, and I can’t imagine leaving here at the end of July to go back to school. I have gained so much hands on experience, and I’m just so thankful for everything and everyone that has made this fellowship incredibly life changing!”

Kori Siebert

A program called Sentext has also been a priority during our time here. The idea behind this program is to keep community members up to date and in the loop with everything happening in town. Our business highlights are a constant everyday occurrence, and we just uploaded many of the videos to our “Ravenna Chamber of Commerce” YouTube channel.

“This experience showed me how rural Nebraska communities are essential in the development of the state. I met hardworking people, committed and amazing leaders, and inspiring business owners. I’ve enjoyed hearing their stories and seeing them at events, as well as getting to share my culture and experiences with them. I am grateful for all the skills, people, and challenges Ravenna has offered me this summer.”

Andromede “Andy” Uwase

Small Business Saturday has also become an essential social media tool as we’ve started to bring more awareness to the unique businesses in Ravenna. On top of all our projects, we have been working on finalizing the small details of our upcoming FREE concert at the Ravenna golf course on Saturday at 8 p.m. 

Connor & Ethan

Since our last update we have continued to push for putting plants in the median, put together a first draft of a brochure for the hike/bike trail and pulled off a popular scavenger hunt and cruise night. In order to accomplish this work, we have had to pitch the idea to put plants in the medians of main street at a recent City Council Meeting. While we intended to only propose our idea for the plants, we also got a unique glimpse of how a rural town operates at the local government level. It was nice to see and engage with community members about both our specific project and what they wanted to see done in general. While we were nervous, it was a wonderful experience and reaffirmed our belief in the power of rural towns and their resilience when coming together.

“This program has shown me just how much passion exists in rural communities. You get to meet so many wonderful, hardworking people that are willing to step up to make their hometown a better place. It’s inspiring to see them in action, and gratifying to know that we could help them in a big way.”

Connor McFayden 

Amidst all the meetings, clue-writing sessions and fights with Adobe software, we have also found the time for some smaller projects, too, including: writing grants for the local EMS team and Historical Society, tracking down blurbs for a Ravenna brochure and setting up an Amazon SMILE account for a local non-profit.