Latest Updates from

RPN Educators

Wed, 01/12/2022 - 13:09

Rural Prosperity Nebraska has 72 educators in all regions of the state. And they’re ready to help you and your community.

No matter the plan you want to develop, the grant you want to apply for, the idea you want to execute, the project you want to complete, the downtown you want to revitalize, the business you want to bring in, or even the advice you want to hear, our educators have the expertise and experience to bring prosperity and vitality to your community.

Emery Named Director of Rural Prosperity Nebraska

Wed, 12/15/2021 - 10:08

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources has named Mary Emery as the inaugural director of Rural Prosperity Nebraska. She will begin her appointment Feb. 15.

Rural Fellowship Program Announces Funding, Scholarships

Tue, 12/07/2021 - 10:47

Nebraska communities that participate in Rural Prosperity Nebraska’s 2022 Rural Fellows program will be eligible for financial support. In total, $100,000 will be available to communities that host students to work on projects as part of the Rural Fellows summer internship program.

In addition, 10 $1,000 scholarships to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources will be awarded to high school students who are selected to serve for 10 hours a week for 10 weeks in their hometowns.

SourceLink Nebraska Helps Entrepreneurs and Business Owners Find “the Right Resources at the Right Time”

Tue, 11/09/2021 - 11:17
Rural Prosperity Nebraska, a division of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, has partnered with the Nebraska Business Development Center at the University of Nebraska–Omaha to launch SourceLink Nebraska on Nov. 16. At launch, the online platform will offer over 870 resources from approximately 500 organizations across the state to help entrepreneurs and business owners create and expand their businesses.

3 Internship Programs Help Rural Nebraska Thrive

Wed, 11/03/2021 - 12:25
Of the 531 communities in Nebraska, 427 are considered rural. Each year, fellows and interns live in a number of these towns to help with community improvement projects, thanks in large part to three collaborative programs: the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Rural Fellowship, Lead for America’s Lead for Nebraska and the Nebraska Community Foundation’s Hometown Interns.

The Rural Fellowship program has existed for eight years; Hometown Interns, three; and Lead for Nebraska, one. In 2021, 57 fellows and interns served in 36 communities across the state.

IANR Names Finalists for Rural Prosperity Nebraska Director, Program Leader

Mon, 11/01/2021 - 10:02
The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources has selected four finalists in its search for director, and one finalist for program leader, of Rural Prosperity Nebraska. The candidates will visit Nebraska and participate in public seminars in Lincoln Nov. 4 to 30.

Nebraska Youth Participate in Q&A with Astronauts

Mon, 10/18/2021 - 16:41

Nebraska youth have a rare opportunity to connect with astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Hosted by Nebraska 4-H, the Launching Nebraska-nauts into the 4-C’able Future program will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 13 at Raising Nebraska in Grand Island. The video-feed Q&A session with three astronauts will take place from 11:40 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Satellite sites are available across the state for those who cannot attend in person.

Applications Open for Communities to Host Rural Fellows in Summer 2022

Mon, 10/18/2021 - 16:30
Each summer, college students from around the Midwest live and work in rural Nebraska communities as part of the Rural Fellows program. During the 10-week program, students work with local leaders and business owners to meet locally identified goals for community improvement. Applications are now open for communities to host Rural Fellows for summer 2022.

LB396 Creates new Opportunities for Farm-to-School Meals

Thu, 09/23/2021 - 12:32

Lincoln, Nebraska, Sept. 22, 2021—On any given weekend in Nebraska, one can visit 100-plus farmers markets and purchase dozens of varieties of locally grown fruits and vegetables. Or stop by one of hundreds of roadside stands or dozens of you-pick operations. Nebraska grows a lot more than cattle and corn. But most of what Nebraska students eat doesn’t come from the state.

Legal Questions to Ask When Forming Cooperatives

Thu, 09/16/2021 - 15:39

The decision to form a cooperative has been made. While the Nebraska Cooperative Development Center encourages the engagement of legal counsel to guide this process, the steering team and future board of directors should know which questions to ask to ensure that the cooperative is legally structured, and that legal procedures are followed as the cooperative begins operations and policy decisions are made.

What are the legal documents required in Nebraska to establish your cooperative?

Readiness for Change

Thu, 09/16/2021 - 10:20

One community is innovative in addressing long-term issues and situations related to quality of life, economic impact, and demographic renewal.  Another community is not. What is the difference? What can communities do to be ready for change?  What role can Extension play in helping a community address complex situations such as identifying new leaders, being competitive in a digital economy, creating healthy communities, or attracting new populations and retaining exciting community members? One key to success is assessing community readiness for change.

Rural Prosperity Nebraska Offers $50,000 in Grants to Boost Communities

Fri, 09/03/2021 - 10:12

Rural Prosperity Nebraska is offering 10 grants, up to $5,000 each, focused on community development. By coupling University of Nebraska–Lincoln faculty with Husker students, the RPN Competitive Grants Program continues a tradition of faculty- and student-led community engagement and service-learning programming.

“Community engagement and service-learning efforts foster opportunities to establish partnerships among faculty, students and community organizations,” said Dave Varner, interim dean of Nebraska Extension.

Leading Locally Program Focuses on Community Leadership

Wed, 08/25/2021 - 09:57

For many Nebraskans, life during the pandemic slowed down. But not in Schuyler. During the past year, Schuyler residents teamed up with Rural Prosperity Nebraska educators to breathe new life into their community.


Cheryl Brandenburgh, Schuyler’s economic development director, connected with Kurt Mantonya, a Nebraska Extension educator. Mantonya runs the Leading Locally program, aimed at strengthening rural communities, and Brandenburgh felt like it was a natural fit for Schuyler.

‘Most Challenging was Most Rewarding:’ Rural Fellow Details Summer Projects

Fri, 08/20/2021 - 15:02

Tori Pedersen, a senior in Agricultural Leadership at the University of Lincoln–Nebraska, spent her summer as a Rural Fellow in Lexington—a town literally 50 times smaller than her hometown of Omaha. And she couldn’t have enjoyed it more.


What was it like moving to Dawson County?

Rural Fellows Celebrate Conclusion of Summer-long Internships

Mon, 08/09/2021 - 10:41

August 6, 2021

For the past 10 weeks, 34 college students from Nebraska and Kansas have participated in an immersive internship program in 17 rural communities across Nebraska.

Known as Rural Fellows, these students worked with local leaders on improving their communities. Projects included mapping out trail systems, creating a library of small-business promotional videos, downtown revitalization efforts and movie nights in community parks.

Not Clowning Around: Plainview Thrives Under Entrepreneur Program

Mon, 08/09/2021 - 10:37

If you walked down Plainview’s Locust Street in 2018, you would’ve passed a lot of dark windows and empty storefronts. Growth had been stagnant for almost 10 years, and the community was struggling. Susan Norris was hired to change that.

“There was a real disconnect between the city and the people,” said Norris, director of Pierce County Economic Development.

Hay Helps Rural Nebraskans Explore Clean Energy Option

Mon, 08/09/2021 - 10:33

Making the switch to clean energy is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. John Hay, a Nebraska Extension educator who conducts workshops on solar energy, helps individuals make the decision that best suits their home, farm, ranch or business.

“Success isn’t always choosing to install solar,” he said. “Success is doing a good analysis of the resources to make the best decision.”

Nebraska Extension’s Barrera Helps Immigrant Business Owners

Mon, 08/09/2021 - 10:29

“Follow your passion,” says Sandra Barrera, associate extension educator with Nebraska Extension. She tells this to every new business owner she helps. And she means it, because every day she follows hers.