Seward, Neb.

Host Team

  • Jonathan Jank (Lead)
  • Vikki Gremel
  • Gary Rolf
  • Clark Kolterman
  • Suzanne Gligorevic
  • Megan Kahler

Raghav Kidambi

Hometown: Chennai, India
Campus: University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Major: Human Resource Management

“I’ve understood that community development in greater Nebraska is by no means an easy task. I’ve seen Jonathan and his team contribute so much hard work, grit and time to help set things up in terms of economic development and community development. I was able to see what it actually takes to be in those shoes.”

Maddie Miller

Hometown: Waverly, NE
Campus: University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Major: Hospitality, Restaurant & Tourism Management

“I love serving people and putting their needs before mine and this program was a great way to do this.”

About Seward County, Neb.

About The Serviceship Experience

The Seward County Chamber and Development Partnership put together Vision 2035, which is based on these principles:

Raghav and Maddie contributed to this vision with a focus on recruitment and retention. Under the guidance of Jonathan Jank, President and CEO of the Seward County Chamber & Development Partnership, as well as the contributions of many other community leaders, they were tasked to strategize around the question: “How can we make Seward County sticky?” Essnetially, how could they create opportunities for new, current and potential residents to build meaningful relationships


Newcomer engagement project — a tool to help Seward to get stickier.

Produced the hypothesis that younger professionals and older retirees are the most disengaged with their communities. Families find ways to be engaged through their children or other family activities. Goal was to fill this engagement gap with young professionals and retirees.

Raghav and Maddie talked to 40+ stakeholders in businesses, civic organizations and more, asking question such as:

All of this data culminated in the creation of a quarterly event series to bring newcomers and current residents together. The first event was an ice cream social held in July 2018.

For the event, the pair recruited 20 active community members to be on the “Meet and Greet Group,” training them to purposefully network with current residents and newcomers.

After the event, they surveyed the “Meet and Greet Group” to learn what could be done better in the future. The results of the survey confirmed their hypothesis that there was as need for more purposeful engagement with young professionals and retirees. All meet and greeters engaged with someone they didn’t know, and all said they were highly likely to attend another newcomer event.

Created a newcomer events guide.

The guidebook houses all of the sponsor information, contacts, suggestions, sustainability plan and more from Raghav and Maddie’s plan. It has been presented to the Seward County First Impressions Committee to use for the next year of planned events and ongoing.

Creation of Seward County newcomer landing page.

To make it easier and more efficient for newcomers to set up their lives in Seward County, Raghav and Maddie created



Final Presentations

Weekly Updates

July 20, 2018

We have spent the past couple of weeks trying to finish our projects. We have been working on planning our next two events and trying to come up with a club to take them over.

Additionally, the Newcomer & Resident Ice Cream Social was quite the success. It was held over the weekend, on the Jul. 15, 2018. We, along with Jonathan, were also interviewed by Karina from RFI before the ice cream social began.

The meet and greet group that we helped put together were present. Members of the meet and greet group made use of the opportunity to network with newcomers and residents.

It was fun to see people getting together and having a pompous community time. We were also able to distribute a survey to those who were part of the meet and greet group, to get feedback on changes that could improve the next events that will be taking place in the future.

All Week Nine Updates

July 6, 2018

Another one of our projects in updating the Seward County website. We are taking this information from each of the communities and adding to the website. This will then help newcomers and visitors to get new information about the town they are visiting.

After we finish updating the website, we hope to receive a grant from the Seward Visitor’s Committee to make Seward County magnets. These magnets would have the website’s URL on them and we would pass them out to each community to hand out. We are hoping to hear from the committee about the grant later this month.

All Week Seven Updates

June 22, 2018

Overall, we would say that it has been quite an exhilarating five weeks. The first two weeks were full of nervousness about what event we were going to help create, as we were given the freedom to create anything we wanted with the condition that it stayed sustainable and manageable for folks after we depart Seward County in August. We knew it had to be something informal and approachable, since that is probably the best way to attract as many newcomers and residents as we can. After many thought trial and errors, we decided that it had to be an event that emphasized the epitome of summer—ice cream. We hope that our event goes as planned and that we get feedback that can help us improve the other two installments of this newcomer event extravaganza.

There has been a lot that we have done in the past five weeks. We met with dozens of leaders in the community and have been able to solidify our ideas for our Seward County newcomer event. We also had Seward’s very first Cultural Festival on Jun. 8. Also on this day is when the Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska (BRAN) came through and stayed in Seward. It was a perfect day to host them, but also host the festival.

All Week Five Updates

June 8, 2018

Our time at the Seward County Chamber has been reasonably productive so far. We met with many community stakeholders over the past week and a half, which has been extremely insightful to make meaningful progress towards achieving our primary project goals of creating a sustainable engagement initiative for Seward County. Meeting these stakeholders and community members one-on-one gave us the knowledge of the various opinions that community members have. This then lead to the filtering of opinions which enabled us to come up with tangible output plans.

We hope to be able to collaborate with community members, stakeholders and local businesses to be able to pull off the event that we are in the process of creating. We are very excited to, and yet a tad bit nervous about putting up this event. The nervousness stems from the possibility of a minimal turnout for the event, but that does not equate to having to give up on our marketing efforts. We believe that persistent and strategic marketing and coordination will help us achieve our goals.

All Week Three Updates

May 25, 2018

We are working with the Seward County Chamber & Development Partnership (SCCDP) under the mentorship of Jonathan Jank. Our primary project is to develop a sustainable Seward County Newcomers program that will engage new permanent residents and many visitors to Seward County each year. We are also teaming up with local businesses to determine how to attract new customers and to take a fresh look at Seward County to determine what first impressions newcomers have of local communities.

We have specifically started to narrow down our goals for the summer. We will be trying to reach out to newcomers and get more information on how we can make Seward County “sticky.” Some of the questions we will ask members of the community include: “What attracted you to move to Seward?” and “How was your experience moving into Seward? What went great? What could have been better?” We will also try to reach out to leaders of surrounding communities such as Milford, Utica, Bee and Cordova. We also know that the lack of housing has been a problem in Seward County. We are trying to find out the necessary information that can help retain newcomers to staying in Seward County in the long term. Conducting surveys or simply setting up meetings with new families and people to the community may solve this.



All Week One Updates