Rural Futures fellows to serve in Nebraska communities

· 4 min read

Rural Futures fellows to serve in Nebraska communities
8 Huskers selected for summer service program

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln has hired three new rural recruitment coordinators to strengthen service to students from across the Cornhusker State.
Craig Chandler | University Communication
The Nebraska Rural Futures Institute's Student Serviceship program will allow 12 University of Nebraska students to guide community service projects in Grand Island, Chadron, Custer County and Garden County this summer. The fellows include eight Huskers.

Desire for a summer challenge has led Husker Courtney Albrecht to address early childhood education and daycare issues in the Nebraska panhandle.

The senior agricultural leadership and communications major is one of eight University of Nebraska–Lincoln students to assist with community improvement projects through the Rural Futures Institute’s Student Serviceship program. The annual summer mentorship program connects student pairs with community mentors to complete strategic, future-focused projects.

“The RFI Fellows program allows you to use your creativity, grow in cultural intelligence and collaborate with other leaders wanting to make an impact as well,” Albrecht said. “In order to become an inclusive leader, I think having a fully immersive experience like this is crucial.”

Albrecht will work in Oshkosh with Garden County Public Schools to develop a prototype for community investment in early childhood education. She will also assist community leaders in addressing daycare shortages for the purpose of economic development.

Programs developed by Albrecht for Garden County will also be made available to all schools in Nebraska’s panhandle.

Developing Inclusive Leaders | Introducing the New RFI Fellows
Video: 2019 RFI fellows

Through the annual fellowship program, students are embedded in Nebraska communities, assisting with community service projects for 10 weeks. Project selection is guided by community leaders and students are paired to intentionally connect complementary skill sets to match project goals.

Huskers selected to serve as 2019 RFI fellows and their community assignments include: Albrecht, Garden County; Angela Beltran, Grand Island; Sydney Burdick, RFI communications; Megan Coan, Custer County; Alyssa Ehler, Grand Island; Rin Le, RFI communications; Tristan Powell, RFI communications; and Hailey Walmsley, Custer County. Learn more about the fellows and their projects.

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Huskers serving as Rural Futures Institute fellows across Nebraska this summer are (above, from left) Courtney Albrecht, Angela Beltran, Sydney Burdick, Megan Coan, (below, from left) Alyssa Ehler, Rin Le, Tristan Powell and Hailey Walmsley.

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The eight Husker fellows will work in Grand Island, Garden County and Custer County. Their projects will benefit public schools, community health organizations, economic development programs and small businesses.

The 2019 RFI program is also expanding to include community leaders as fellows. The RFI Community Innovation Fellows will work with the students and others on the summer projects. They will also continue to use lessons learned to support community improvement projects in the future.

All RFI fellows will earn Inclusive Leadership Development Certificates through individual coaching sessions with Helen Fagan, assistant professor of practice in agricultural leadership, education and communication.

“We need to help our communities and our students prepare, so we can all lead together in a way that fosters innovation,” Fagan said. “That means astute intercultural awareness and the ability to create and lead diverse teams. By elevating Community Innovation Fellows, we are helping create leadership capacity that is essential for the future of our state.”

Overall, 12 students from the entire University of Nebraska system and seven community leaders have been named 2019 fellows. The program also includes service efforts in Chadron. Learn more about the students and community leaders selected to participate.

Rural Futures Institute’s 2019 Student Serviceships

Garden County
  • Students: Courtney Albrecht
  • Partners: Garden County Schools, Volunteers of America-Western Nebraska
  • Project focus: Early childhood education, daycares, economic development
  • Summary: Develop a prototype for community investment in early childhood education and address daycare shortage to create greater economic opportunities for rural communities. Program will also be available for all schools in the Nebraska panhandle.
Custer County
  • Students: Megan Coan, Hailey Walmsley
  • Partner: Custer Economic Development Corporation
  • Project focus: economic and workforce development, entrepreneurship, marketing
  • Summary: Develop diverse community marketing and workforce development projects. Create connecting points for groups throughout the county.
Grand Island
  • Students: Angela Beltran, Alyssa Ehler
  • Partners: Nebraska Extension Community Vitality Initiative Latino Small Business Program
  • Project focus: Latino small businesses, entrepreneurship, marketing
  • Summary: Assist with the first Latino Business Conference, while also creating a Latino business map and directory for Grand Island. Plan and implement a campaign to raise awareness for Latino Street. Creating marketing materials for the Latino small business program, other small businesses in Grand Island and local entrepreneurs.
RFI communications
  • Students: Sydney Burdick, Rin Le, Tristan Powell
  • Partners: Rural Futures Institute
  • Project focus: Provide education on critical rural challenges and opportunities
  • Summary: Serve as strategic storytellers to educate Rural Future Institute audiences about the focus areas of the community projects.