Why Rural? Why Now?

What is “rural”?

of the U.S. population (46.2 million people)

of the nation’s land mass

According to the US Census Bureau, “rural” is defined as counties with a population less than 50,000 residents.



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Diversity & Inclusion

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Population Decline

Health Care Access

Broadband Access

Resources from the University of Nebraska

Through the Rural Futures Institute and other initiatives, the University of Nebraska works to create a thriving rural future for the state. This means providing access to education that encourages leadership and entrepreneurial development and focusing on recruitment and retention efforts by creating economic development opportunities, health care access, technology connectivity and more.

Video features: Charles Bicak, University of Nebraska at Kearney Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs; B.J. Reed, University of Nebraska at Omaha Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs; Dele Davies, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs; Michael Boehm, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Vice Chancellor for Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN)
Recruits & educates students in behavioral health fields and trains & retains professionals already in the workforce.

Buffett Early Childhood Institute
Transforming the lives of young children by improving their learning and development.

Center for Great Plains Studies
Fosters the study of the people and the environment of Great Plains, while operating the Great Plains Art Museum and the Plains Humanities Alliance.

Center for Entrepreneurship and Rural Development
Focuses on innovation, outreach, collaboration, research and education in rural communities.

Community Vitality Initiative
Making the good life great.

Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program
Builds enterprises that contribute value to agriculture and communities by nurturing, challenging and equipping entrepreneurial talent.

National Center for Research on Rural Education
Works to improve rural educational access and establish an infrastructure for conducting research and leadership related to rural education.

Nebraska Bureau of Business Research
Applied economic and business research entity of the College of Business at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Nebraska Business Development Center
Helps strengthen Nebraska businesses for a healthy economy and prosperous communities.

Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools
Conducts research through grant-funded projects, provide comprehensive grant support, and share research findings across audiences and platforms.

Nebraska Rural Poll
Annual survey that gathers the aggregated voice of rural Nebraskans and relays its findings to state lawmakers, ensuring the rural voice is heard.

Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute
Combines the best of the University’s expertise in water and food to address the challenges of improving the use and management of water in agriculture.

Center for Public Affairs Research
The University of Nebraska at Omaha College of Public Affairs and Community Service, CPAR seeks to provide and support the collection and wide dissemination of public affairs knowledge locally and nationally to directly improve the quality of lives of residents of Nebraska or support the capacity of other agencies to do so. 

Rural Health Programs
The University of Nebraska Medical Center addresses the special needs of rural Nebraska by encouraging rural residents to pursue health care careers.

Rural Health Opportunities Program
Addresses the special needs of rural Nebraska by encouraging rural residents to pursue a career in the health care fields.

Rural Law Opportunities Program
Aims to ensure all Nebraskans have access to legal representation by encouraging the practice of law in the state’s rural communities.

University of Nebraska SourceLink Resource Navigator
Links entrepreneurs and community leaders to solutions and opportunities from the University of Nebraska via one online platform.

Additional Resources


If you would like to submit a response to the “Why Rural? Why Now?” questions or additional resources, please do so by emailing us at ruralfutures@nebraska.edu. Submissions will be reviewed on a monthly basis by the RFI team and incorporated as appropriate. Thank you!