RFI Grant Highlight: Rural Community Serviceship Program

RFI Grant Highlight: Rural Community Serviceship Program

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There’s something exciting, something very cool happening in rural America. These students are being sent out to do different projects within their
respective communities, but the common denominator among all their experiences is that they’re experiences is that they are being sent out to build community. When we found out about the Rural Futures Intern Program, we really wanted to jump at the chance
to get interns that would be able to market Neligh to their age group. And we knew that we had
a concept that we wanted to do but we just didn’t know how we could do it. Growing up in a rural community of my own, I decided that I wanted to experience a community somewhere throughout the same Nebraska that was different than where I grew up. I grew up on a family farm west of Alliance, Nebraska. So I come from an agricultural background in a rural community. That was one of the reasons I was really excited about doing this internship program. Jessica and I were working on two main projects this summer. and one of them is just beginning research and surveys to apply for a grant to improve Neligh infrastructure. And the other is “This is MY NELIGH” marketing campaign, to showcase the high quality of life that is here in Neligh, Nebraska. I am working on a project that is
developing the Valley County Home and Ag Expo. So I get to use my agriculture background, but also help the rural community. We talk to everyone about the projects that they want to focus on or a theme that they want to focus on. What does this community need and what can we do to make that happen. We’ve really given our interns authority to take on these projects and really make them their own. Our interns have been making amazing
connections with new groups of people and new organizations in our community. And I know that community members and
other community leaders have been impressed with their work and excited about the progress that they are making with these projects. The internship program is only 8 weeks long, which is almost enough time to get something started, let alone finish a whole marketing project so we had to hit the ground running. Alyssa and I starting going out and meeting people the very first day we were here. One of the greatest things that I value about this internship is we’re actually getting to do hands-on things and taking ownership of these own projects instead of running coffee or doing paperwork and office work. These young people bring a new perspective. They help a community see themselves differently, oftentimes better and oftentimes with a lot more hope than perhaps they saw themselves previously. I think I’m the biggest thing
that hit home for me was this whole idea of giving students an opportunity to make a
difference. And through internship where they’re not a cog in the wheel but rather they are an intern for a community and they’re there for the
purpose of developing community. They have the most unique opportunity to make a difference. One the biggest impact this project has
had on me is realizing that rural American is not the limit. And meeting people in Ord, and realizing that they can do business outside of the area has really kind of taught me that there is opportunity outside of the area you live. After I leave Valley County, I think the biggest take away I am going to have is the rural community way of business and way of working that everyone has relationships and utilizing
resources to make a community work. This experience wouldn’t be the same if we weren’t doing a homestay because we’re not only working here, but we’re living here and interacting with people. The people I might meet at work are people who I see at church, at farmer’s market. They’re just people, everyday people. And realizing that you’re apart of their lives for the summer. It’s just a little bit different than
other internships because you are a part of the community. I feel that I have learned just as much from in their knowledge in their
perspectives about our community and about rural Nebraska as they have about their experience here in our community. I would 100% recommend this
internship program to any communities looking at doing a project. We wanted to get the intern’s perspective on marketing and we’ve gotten that ten times over. I found that the students have a passion
for making a difference no matter what they’re doing whether they become
doctors, lawyers, non-profit, CEO’s, whatever. They don’t need to go back to their
hometown to exercise that passion for making a difference. And what they have hopefully gained from this internship experience is that no matter where you go, your job is to build community.

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