A UNL sophomore spent the summer of 2020 in Wahoo, Nebraska, as a Rural Fellows intern to gain hands-on experience in community development efforts.
Savannah Gerlach, originally from DeWitt, said she spent her summer in Wahoo with two other UNL interns working with the Wahoo Chamber of Commerce and City of Wahoo. Throughout the summer, she focused on various city projects, including designing a city communication plan, creating a website, and improving city relationships.
Although she doesn’t intend to pursue a career in economic development, Gerlach said her experience in the program was of great value, especially since she’s from a small town.
“This is my very best way to give back to a small, rural community,” said Gerlach. “I got to see how a small town is run and all the people it takes to do so.”
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.
Gerlach encourages both students and communities to apply for the program.
“There are so many college students my age out there with similar experiences who would love to give back to all of the thriving communities in Nebraska.”
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.