September 20, 2016

Rural Futures Institute holds statewide community forums

University of Nebraska regents, leaders and faculty will join the Rural Futures Institute and community members at three Rural Regional Forums throughout the state.

  • Sept. 22, West Point: Regent Robert Whitehouse and President Hank Bounds

  • Sept. 27, North Platte: Regent Bob Phares and Interim Vice President and IANR Vice Chancellor Ron Yoder

  • Sept. 28, Chadron: Chadron State President Randy Rhine and Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture Dean Ron Rosati

RFI worked closely with steering committees from each community to create day-long programs highlighting the successes of each community and region and address critical challenges rural communities are facing. Common issues identified among the three regions include housing, business development, leadership transition and recruitment of residents and professionals.

Faculty and staff of the university are encouraged to attend and spread the word of these important events. Agendas and registration are available here. The cost is $25.

“The forums are an opportunity to get many different people in the same room with the focus being—how can we all work together to get rural communities in Nebraska where they want to go?” said Chuck Schroeder, founding executive director of the Rural Futures Institute. “RFI is here to facilitate those discussions, offer options and ideas and learn from these communities on behalf of other rural communities in Nebraska and beyond.”

Each forum will include:

  • Faculty overviews of RFI-funded “Competitive Awards” projects that were piloted in Nebraska communities including “Marketing Hometown America” and “RCAP-Rural Community Action Program”

  • Tours of the communities that highlight innovative entrepreneurship successes

  • Youth “community visioning” conceptual model presentations

  • Panel discussions with leaders from business, education and health care

  • Group work that aims to address issues each region is facing

Overviews of RFI’s Competitive Awards projects will allow faculty to discuss the collaborative efforts of their work and the resulting benefits for the Nebraska region, state and rural communities as a whole.

In total, 41 projects have and are being funded by RFI, including those that address entrepreneurship, workforce development, rural leadership, diversity, health, nutrition and the arts. For more information, click here.

Lindsay Hastings, assistant professor in Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication will present the Rural Community Serviceship Program at the West Point Forum. Since 2013, this program has placed 30 student interns in 16 rural Nebraska communities, allowing the students to engage in projects ranging from developing community marketing plans to facilitating historic preservation.

“I love that the Rural Futures Institute Forums allows us as faculty to be out in the communities to share and learn about rural impact where it is actually happening,” Hastings said. “I’m always inspired by local talent and passion.”

For continued updates about the forums, follow RFI on Twitter @rural_futures; #RFIforums and Facebook.