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Rural Fellows interns ‘planted really critical seeds’ for education, recruitment in Seward County

Rural Fellows interns ‘planted really critical seeds’ for education, recruitment in Seward County

For me, a program like this is absolutely critical for what I’ll call ‘talent pipeline development’ in our state.

- Jonathan Jank | Seward County Chamber & Development Partnership

The Seward County Chamber & Development Partnership has hosted two sets of Rural Fellows interns who moved the needle forward for current and future county residents.

Jonathan Jank, president and CEO of the partnership, said the interns in 2013 created an entrepreneurial program for high school students that was implemented in Seward County school districts.

In 2018, Jank said the interns focused on recruitment and retention, addressing the question ‘How can we make Seward sticky?’.

He said each community-identified project helped Seward County think differently about education, entrepreneurship and community development. In addition, he said the student interns ‘planted some really critical seeds’ for bringing young leaders to local communities.

“For me, a program like this is absolutely critical for what I’ll call ‘talent pipeline development’ in our state,” said Jank.

The Rural Fellows program was designed in 2013 to place college students in rural communities across Nebraska. For the 2021 program, IANR is seeking 100 communities to host 200 students.

College students are placed in communities for 10 weeks during the summer to work on projects for the community. In previous years, students have worked on tourism initiatives, workforce development, childhood education, entrepreneurship and more.

This year, IANR is also offering up to $100,000 in grant funding to communities. Communities that apply for the 2021 program will be eligible to receive up to $2,000 per student fellow. Students typically work in pairs, meaning that communities would be eligible to receive up to $4,000 in support.

Applications are currently open for both students and communities.

Details are available at ruralprosperityne.unl.edu/rural-fellows.

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