Forums to spotlight local success stories, Rural Futures Institute projects
The University of Nebraska’s Rural Futures Institute will host a series of regional forums this fall aimed at showcasing success stories in Nebraska communities and sharing outcomes of RFI-funded projects that are serving the people of the state.
Registration is now open for the forums, which will take place on Sept. 30 at the Steinhart Lodge at the Lied Lodge and Conference Center in Nebraska City; Oct. 9 at the Convention Center at the Cobblestone Hotel and Suites in Broken Bow; and Oct. 14 at the Hampton Inn and Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Scottsbluff.
The day-long forums begin at 10:30 a.m. and conclude at 7 p.m. Registration is $25, which covers all activities, lunch and evening appetizers. The forums are open to the public, and attendees are encouraged to come prepared to discuss their goals for their regions of the state and ideas on how the Rural Futures Institute can partner with communities to achieve those goals.
“The Rural Futures Institute exists for the benefit of the state. Our goal is to help ensure a strong economy and high quality of life in rural communities across Nebraska and beyond,” said Chuck Schroeder, founding executive director of the Rural Futures Institute. “If we’re to be successful, we need to continually communicate with our most important stakeholders – Nebraska citizens whose energy, creativity and leadership is vital to our state’s future. These regional forums are a way to continue our dialogue with Nebraskans about how we can work together to ensure a strong future for all citizens. I can’t wait to hear their input and ideas.”
The regional forums will focus on growing economies, energized leadership and vibrant communities. At each forum, attendees will have the opportunity to hear from local leaders about what they are doing to enhance business growth and downtown redevelopment, expand educational opportunities, and increase the quality of life for all generations, including youth and young adults. Forums will conclude with a town hall dialogue about what participants want to see for the future of their regions and explore collaborative opportunities to reach those desired futures.
Schroeder noted that the forums will provide valuable direction on future programming and funding opportunities within the Rural Futures Institute.
The forums also will spotlight some of the grant-funded projects supported by the Rural Futures Institute. Over the past two years, faculty from across the University of Nebraska, together with partners around the state and across state lines, have been pursuing about two dozen projects funded by the RFI focusing on topics critical to rural people and communities, including the shortage of mental health providers in rural areas, workforce development in rural communities, rural leadership and engagement, and health and nutrition.
The Rural Futures Institute was approved by the Board of Regents in 2012. A conference the following year attracted more than 500 attendees who helped shape the institute’s goals, and in December, Schroeder, a Nebraska native, began his tenure as founding executive director following a national search. Another national Rural Futures Conference is planned for fall 2015.
Director of Communications University of Nebraska