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Current Projects

Reinventing Pilger, Nebraska

Our work in Pilger was completed with a town hall meeting at the new temporary fire hall in April. This town hall, the first one to be held in Pilger since the twin tornadoes in 2014, was a celebration of the continued success in various projects completed by Pilger residents with the assistance of the Heartland Center. Milan was present at the “Grand Reopening” of Pilger on June 18, when numerous open houses were held for new and established businesses.

Rural Futures Service Learning Project

The Rural Futures Serviceship project is off to a good start. Milan and Kurt taught several intercession classes on community development, Appreciative Inquiry, Clues and other topics to help prepare the interns for their field experience. Interns are located in Nebraska City, Friend, Cozad, Curtis and McCook working on locally identified betterment projects. This nine-week serviceship ended on July 29, and interns are preparing presentations on their experiences for a September showcase.

RCDI Grant

We have submitted a USDA RCDI grant application for a project entitled “Enhancing Rural Prosperity in Central Nebraska.” The purpose of this grant is to help the Central Nebraska Economic Development District develop capacity and improve its skill base to undertake projects related to community and economic development, with an Appreciative Inquiry emphasis. CNEDD is a 14-county service area that serves 28 small communities in the north central portion of Nebraska.

ECAP Guidebook

Milan continues working with a team in UNL Extension to develop a guidebook for communities that are interested in implementing the project known as ECAP, or Entrepreneurial Communities Activation Process, which is also funded by a Rural Futures Institute grant. Kurt and Milan served as evaluators of the field test of this project in seven communities across Nebraska. The guidebook will be a digital product available for download from an Extension website.

Helping Small Towns Succeed

Planning continues for Helping Small Towns Succeed, which will be held from October 11-13, 2016 at the Snow King Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

NCRCRD Project

The Heartland Center continues its collaborative effort on a grant from the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development for a study entitled “Successful Disaster Recovery Using the Community Capitals Framework.” Partners include North Dakota State University, South Dakota State University, the National Drought Mitigation Center, University of Nebraska-Extension, Kansas State University and Oklahoma State University.

RFI Regional Rural Forums

Planning for NU’s Rural Futures Institute Regional Forums is underway. The Heartland Center will help with planning, designing and facilitating three regional forums throughout Nebraska in the fall of 2016. Forums will be held in West Point, Chadron and North Platte.

Measuring the Impact of Youth Leadership Development

Milan is working on this RFI-funded project at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Lindsay Hastings is a co-PI. The project examines youth leadership development for its predictive value in influencing community outcomes.