This Week in Serviceship 2018: Week Seven!

Alliance, Neb.

“Seeing how far we have come in this project excites me. I am very excited to show the communities of Box Butte County our end result in a few weeks!”



Mirissa and Haley’s painted tires beautify Carhenge for their volunteering project.

We can’t believe it is already the 7th week of Serviceship! Things are starting to wind down and we have been editing like crazy for our Marketing Hometown America video! We have continued to meet amazing people and have gotten to do some traveling to surrounding areas on the weekends which has been nice! The main focus of our last two weeks has been to write interview questions, visit businesses, wrap up footage content, and conduct interviews for our final product.

We also attended the Cattle Capital Rodeo this past weekend and got some pictures and video of that. On Jul. 2, we had supper with Bob and Delinda Neville and rode around the town of Alliance selling ice cream in Delinda’s ice cream truck. On Independence Day we celebrated the holiday with our lead mentor Chelsie her family and Susan Unzicker, Executive Director of the Alliance Chamber. On Jul. 6, we visited with Congressman Adrian Smith and the first week of Bands on the Bricks will take place. Bands on the Bricks will be occurring every Friday in July in Alliance and the first Friday of August in Hemingford. We are also excited to experience our first Heritage Days celebration soon!

“It has been really great having Haley and Mirissa here,” said Box Butte General Hospital Promotions Specialist Shae Brennan. “Coming from the eastern part of the state to the western side gives it a different vibe. They are bringing out the best in the video for Box Butte County. I’m really thankful for that and I want this town to grow and be better than it is. I love this community.”


We have also finished up our volunteer project at Carhenge. Our lead mentor, Chelsie Herian, gave us six tires and we power washed them and spray painted them. Then we planted flowers in the tires to help beautify Carhenge.

“We are very excited about what we have been doing and are looking forward to putting all of our work together in order to make an amazing video and attract residents to Box Butte County.”






McCook, Neb.

Within the last two weeks, we have cracked down on our museum planning! After a lot of brainstorming and sketches on paper, we have started to use SketchUp to create computerized designs and blueprints of rooms. Our intention with this is to make our creative ideas as visual as possible when we hand our designs over to someone else at the end of the summer. These designs will also be useful for the public to gain an awareness of the plan of action that will be phased in over the next few years. To spark some enthusiasm for the future change and get community members involved, we will be holding a membership drive event in the next few weeks.

“The RFI Serviceship Program has taught me that economic development is the heart and soul of rural Nebraska. It is all about creating community, doing the extraordinary and believing that small towns really do make big waves.”


In addition to the museum planning, we have been working on two projects with McCook’s Economic Development Director Andy Long. The first project is called the McCook Mastermind Alliance. The goal of this group is to bring together highly motivated people who are committed to growing personally and professionally. Promotion and connection are two of our main goals for this project. By accomplishing these two tasks, we feel we will be able help start the engine of this creative and collaborative train.

The other project we are working on is the Accelerated Interns of McCook (AIM), which is a program modeled after the RFI Serviceship unique to the McCook community. High school and college students will apply for existing or new internships in the area, and AIM managers will assist with promotion and application screening. Beyond hiring, the program will focus on creating a close-knit community for interns through bi-weekly meetings with one another and local professionals, as well as social gatherings. Interns will also complete 10 volunteer service hours throughout the summer.

Emily took this photo of Sage while snapping photos for the Southwest Nebraska Tourism Coalition.

Sage and Emily present their museum planning designs to the High Plains Museum Board.

“RFI Serviceship has taught me to appreciate rural communities in a way I never have before. Each community is so unique in some way—its rich history, an invested and diverse group of thinkers and all of those who are continuously looking forward to the future of the community.”


We are creating marketing materials and applications for both projects while also planning a kickoff event. The theme for the kickoff is a Fiery Fiesta because we are hoping to light a new fire for these projects focused on leadership and community development, and who doesn’t love tacos? We are especially thankful for Andy Long getting us involved in these two projects, as they combine aspects of entrepreneurship and serviceship for rural communities—something we both share a passion for!

On top of all of the work we have been doing on these projects, we have also been having a little fun behind the camera. Last Saturday we hopped in the car to Trenton, Neb., to take some pictures for the Southwest Nebraska Tourism Coalition website. We snapped some pictures of the colorful farmers market corner, the local boutique and the most unique massage therapy business—who would have thought? If you’re looking for hidden gems in Nebraska, Trenton is definitely one to explore!




McCook THETA Camps

“The students of THETA have kept me excited each day by showing an interest in the material that we are supplying them. This is a very rewarding experience to see a student develop an understanding of a topic I’m passionate about.”


THETA continues to keep trucking along as we’ve completed 5 modules of our camp already. It’s crazy to see how fast this summer is passing. It feels as if just last week we were all in Lincoln completing our serviceship training.

At THETA, we are continuing to make impressive advancements as we have expanded our reaches from physical activity and nutrition into technology now as well. It has been a very good mix of speed for both RFI interns as well as our students. The kids continue to stay excited about the material that we are presenting them.

The students specifically loved being able to cross physical activity and technology together and apply both their uses. One way we’ve been able to do this is by assigning IHT monitors, which similar to Fitbits, to each student in order to study their heart rates and physical activity levels for various activities. This is an excellent activity be students get to actually see how much work their body is doing for simple movements compared to complex activities.

“I’ve been excited about the kids’ eagerness to learn and seeing them be able apply the information we teach them directly to their own lives.”



An activity utilizing the internet of things allowed students to be creative by trying to connect various objects to the internet and solve a problem that they face whether it be at home or in their school. It has been awesome seeing kids take such an interest in these activities and also be able to continue to develop their problem-solving skills.

We have also had a few volunteer opportunities show up that we were more than eager to help out with. We helped the community set up some very heavy pool equipment for a swim meet as well as doing various things within the YMCA. We feel that the community is very thankful with anything that we get to help out with and that makes it that much easier to lend a hand where ever it is needed.

THETA camp was scheduled for a break during the week of Independence Day as it is difficult to keep our numbers up with the various activities going on. We are eager to return to camp and hope the kids are too!

“The kids have shown tremendous growth in their application of what we are teaching. They’re taking the time to really dive in and try to understand what we are teaching them.”





Neligh, Neb.

In these last two weeks, we have finished the Neligh mapping report and finished collecting data for the northeast mapping report. The Neligh mapping report was formatted and sent as a confidential file to the strategic planning committee. The northeast mapping report just needs several more hours of formatting work and it will be finished as well.

We have also been out in the community and were busy with business visits and talking to community members. On Jun. 29, we delivered root-beer floats with State Farm to businesses around town.  We also helped register floats for the Independence Day parade. We also have been spending time recording, editing and scheduling videos.

We went out to Theile Dairy in Clearwater, Neb., to show support for the community as Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts paid a visit to a local dairy. We got a tour of the farm and met farmers from the Clearwater area.

Michayla and Rhiannon pose with Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts during his Ag Adventure in Clearwater, Neb.

Rhiannon and Michayla drive around Neligh on Independence Day to record videos and take photos of the community.

Michayla has been working on entrepreneurship curriculum that will be used during the school year as a class that meets once bi-weekly. I attended an executive meeting to get ideas and input on the outline. Rhiannon has taken charge of a large service project for us. Community members want the cemetery to be inventoried, and they want the records to be condensed. We are going to then do a map and color coding system to help families find open plots and their loved ones.

On the Jul. 25, the RFI team paid us a visit, and it was great to talk with them. We always learn so much from their wisdom and perspective. It meant a lot to us that our coordinators cared enough to visit and then to stay for an extended period of time.

We also had a strategic planning committee meeting. It is composed of chamber members, city council members and community representatives. We had introductions and then collectively did a SWOT analysis to go through best and worst-case scenario of what Neligh would look like in ten years.

“It still amazes me that even when there are other things going on, people care so much for each other and want what is best for their community.”





Seward, Neb.

The past few weeks were filled with a good amount of progress pertaining to our projects. Our newcomer ice cream social event is to take place on Jul. 15, and we are excited for it. We have partnered with the Kiwanis Club of Seward and Lee’s Refrigeration to help us sustain this project and make it a year-to-year event.

We are still in the planning stages of the other two events that we have in mind. We do have an idea as to what we want those events to be like and who we are trying to partner with, but because everyone is so busy we have been planning at a slower pace. Our second and third events are tentatively planned to take place in October 2018 and April 2019. It is also a blessing in disguise that we have organizations and civic groups that are happy and willing to work with us on a professional capacity. They are very much looking forward to what we come up with and are not hesitant to help sustain the events towards the future for the betterment of the community and the county as a whole.

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.

Vintage sign hangs in Bee, Neb., a village in Seward County that Raghav and Maddie visited this week.

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.

Overall, we have helped enable the community to utilize better, easier and convenient channels for receiving information about the community and the events that take place within it. We have also gone around to each community in the county and gathered information of businesses, utilities, trash services, school and organizations. The goal here is to help people out to get to know their community better and create channels of communication within communities that did not exist before.