Savannah Gerlach

Agricultural Economics
International Agriculture
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

2020 Community: Wahoo

Focus: Community Development, Community Marketing

Focus: Civic Engagement, Communications

The students will work to identify and develop a comprehensive communications plan that focuses on city, healthcare and civic outreach and engagement. Students will identify and engage diverse emerging leaders in civic and healthcare related efforts. In addition, students will assist with final prep and execution of the 150th Sesquicentennial Celebration that will be held June 26-28 in Wahoo. Assistance with community engagement efforts will be pursued by creating surveys, conducting focus groups, etc.

Students: Amanda MostOscaline Usanase
Innovators: Theresa KleinMelissa Harrell

Sponsored By: Wahoo Chamber and Economic Development, Saunders Medical Center, City of Wahoo

Why did you choose the Fellowship Program?

I chose this experience because I believe in the potential in rural communities. While getting to serve a community, I’ll grow while helping the community to grow as well.

What do you hope to gain?

I hope to gain a whole new perspective on inclusive leadership while stepping outside my comfort zone and learning what it means to be a part of rural development. I hope to gain new friendships and connections across the state, and I also look forward to gaining insight on how I have the power to help make a difference in a rural community.

Why is it important that students develop inclusive leadership development?

I think it is important students have this type of experience with inclusive leadership because it provides hands-on learning and interaction within communities, solving problems and innovating in a way we never have before. It’s first-hand learning where we’re actually doing the work — we’ll get to learn inclusive leadership, so we can apply it today and in the future.

Why should students work in rural communities?

I think it’s important for students to have this type of experience in a rural community because this type of exposure to small communities can send positive messages about the opportunities that small communities have and can encourage them to come back home to small towns. My rural community undoubtedly provided me with numerous opportunities for me to learn about leadership and service.

Why is it important students give back to Nebraska?

It is important students give back because, just as much as anywhere else, Nebraska has a story to tell and a perspective that can be valuable to anyone. It has built us up to be the people we are today and has taught me that a sense of community and hard work can be state-wide and that no matter how far you wander, you can always find a place back home.

What new opportunities exist today to help move rural communities forward? What are your ideas?

With this experience through the Rural Futures Institute, we have a tremendous opportunity to move communities forward because with the students we have to serve the communities, we’re adding fresh eyes and a unique perspective that can add value to these communities in ways they never thought of. I think that our tech-savvy generation can add to these communities by helping innovate and rethink the most efficient and creative ways they can expand the exposure of their community.