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Current Projects

Rural Futures Service Learning Project

The University of Nebraska Rural Futures Institute (RFI) Serviceship project is beginning its fifth year.  Milan Wall and Kurt Mantonya helped to recruit host communities and have reviewed 25 student applications, a significant increase from previous years.  Kurt and Milan will continue to teach intercession class modules to help prepare the interns for their field experience this summer.  Host communities in 2017 include North Platte, West Point and York.

 CDS Conference

Kurt will be presenting “Reflecting on Clues to Rural Community Survival,” summarizing his research on how Clues is used worldwide, at the CDS annual conference in Montana in June.  This year’s event is a joint conference with the national association of Extension professionals.

Peter Kiewit Foundation Proposal

With Craig Schroeder’s help, we are working on a grant application to the Peter Kiewit Foundation in Omaha in collaboration with the Central Nebraska Economic Development District.  The project will focus on preparing youth for today’s workforce opportunities, including business transitions.  CNEDD is a 14-county service area with 28 rural communities in north central Nebraska.

Minnesota Network of Community Developers

We have completed a  curriculum for a learning academy for new community development practitioners in Minnesota.  The project is funded by the Blandin Foundation through a coalition of development agencies and the University of Minnesota.  Our collaborator is Deb Markley with the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship.

Helping Small Towns Succeed

We are working on the final details of Helping Small Towns Succeed, which will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first publication of Clues to Rural Community Survival.  The institute is tentatively planned for the week of October 16, 2017 in conjunction with the Community Capitals Framework Institute.  We are considering properties in Lincoln and in Nebraska City.

NCRCRD Project using Community Capitals

The Heartland Center is finishing up another 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.


Measuring the Impact of Youth Leadership Development

Milan is working on this RFI-funded project with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications,  Lindsay Hastings is a Co-PI.  The project examines youth leadership development for its predictive value in influencing community outcomes.


Prosperity Communities Initiative

Milan and Kurt are part of this RFI-funded project to build the capacity of a cohort of rural communities in Nebraska to effectively create the conditions that enable a more prosperous future.  The project focuses on people attraction, economic development and place-making.  Lindsay Hastings is also a team member.


Salt Creek North Watershed Master Plan

The St. Louis-based engineering firm of Intuition and Logic has sub-contracted with us to assist with an update to the Salt Creek North Watershed Master Plan in Lincoln.  We will facilitate public open houses and stakeholder meetings and produce a newsletter.


University of Nebraska-Extension Facilitation      

We are working with University of Nebraska Lincoln-Extension to develop a learning academy for Extension’s Community Vitality (CVI) Team. The initial focus will be on learning how to facilitate community engagement and related skills. Kurt just completed a survey of CVI members to help guide curriculum development.


Tourism Project with Nebraska, South Dakota and Australia

We also partnered with Extension on a proposal to the Rural Futures Institute for a project entitled “Australia and the Pine Ridge:  A New Approach to Rural Tourism.” This project will identify tourism resources in northwest Nebraska and southwest South Dakota, engage young adults in tourism-related asset mapping and help the region collaborate on tourism development and marketing.  An international collaboration and co-learning exchanges with tourism managers in Australia will be a unique project feature.