University of Nebraska students will have a unique opportunity to connect with representatives of nearly 40 communities, companies and organizations at the first-ever Rural Opportunities Fair, to be held Oct. 21 in Lincoln as a special kickoff to the Rural Futures Conference.
The Rural Opportunities Fair will allow students to explore internship and job possibilities with community and business representatives who are looking to recruit young talent, as well as leadership, social and entrepreneurial opportunities that exist for students throughout rural Nebraska. The fair goes from noon to 2 p.m. in the Nebraska East Union on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus. It is hosted by the University of Nebraska’s Rural Futures Institute. All NU students interested in living and working in a rural community are invited to attend the fair at no cost.
“There is a huge disconnect between what youth have been told about rural Nebraska and the actual opportunities that exist,” said Greg Ptacek, economic development director of the City of Neligh, which will be represented at the fair. “Hopefully, the one-on-one conversations will spark a change in attitude toward rural as a viable life option for this next generation.”
Companies and organizations that will be represented at the fair include the Central Nebraska Economic Development District, Department of Rural Health, Intern Nebraska, Nebraska State Bar Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Fields where internship or job opportunities will be available include agribusiness, agronomy, community planning, education, engineering, entrepreneurship, accounting and finance, healthcare, information technology, marketing and communications, natural resources, veterinary and animal sciences and others.
“We hope to try and attract a younger, revitalized workforce and bring new ideas and energy to Auburn,” said Kim Beger, Auburn Development Council Treasurer. “We are pleased to be partnering with the University of Nebraska on events like these as they provide Auburn and rural Nebraska exposure and an opportunity to show our successes. Auburn’s hope is to connect with some NU students that can help fill the professional workforce needs that are becoming available by our current developing industries and the current retiring workforce.”
Kristina Foth, assistant director of Valley County Economic Development and the Chamber of Commerce, said: “The Rural Opportunities Fair will provide Valley County with an opportunity we have been searching for, allowing us to heighten our recruitment efforts and make intentional connections with potential workforce. Relationships we have cultivated with NU students in the past and new connections we hope to foster have great potential to enhance business activity and contribute to significant growth for local businesses in Valley County.”
The Rural Opportunities Fair is part of the third Rural Futures Conference, which is Oct. 21-23. Registration for the conference, which will be offered both in Lincoln and Curtis, is currently open at http://rfc.nebraska.edu. The conference drew a sold-out crowd of more than 500 when it was last held in 2013.
About the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska
The Rural Futures Institute (RFI) is one of four interdisciplinary institutes at the University of Nebraska that leverages talents and research-based expertise from across the university’s campuses. The RFI, through a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, encourages bold and futuristic approaches to collaboratively address state, national and global challenges.