2021 student fellows
A new community center. Youth entrepreneurial classes. A county-wide geocaching game. These are just a few of the projects Rural Fellows have completed during their summer-long immersive internships. Since 2013 the Rural Fellowship program has connected college students with rural Nebraska communities as part of a collaborative service-learning experience.

Rural Fellows spend their summers living in Nebraska towns, working on locally-designed projects that support local business, and make progress toward strategic and specific goals to help communities thrive. Rural Fellows commonly create an impact in the following areas:

  • Business development
  • Community marketing & communications
  • Community, workforce & economic development
  • Early childhood education
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Inclusive leadership development
  • Mental health services
  • Population health
  • Tourism
  • Social determinants of health
  • Sustainability, environment & energy
  • And more!

HOW TO APPLY

Communities

Rural Prosperity Nebraska selects communities through an application and interview process. In 2020, Nebraska communities that hosted Rural Fellows saw an average economic impact of $15,000. As part of the application process, communities must identify (1) projects the Fellows can work on, (2) support staff to manage the projects and Fellows, and (3) funding for the 10-week period (approximately $12,000—$5,000 per student and $2,000 for housing).

If you have questions, please contact a team member below.
 

Community Interest Application for 2022

Community Application for 2022

Details About Being a Host Community

Kim Beger

Amber Ross
2021 Ravenna Community Fellow

"The biggest benefit of hosting Rural Fellows is their new perspectives. They help us think outside the box, and look at challenges and projects in a new light. They challenge us to think differently. I would definitely recommend this experience to other communities."

Student Fellows

Rural Prosperity Nebraska selects student Fellows through a competitive application and interview process. Applicants may be enrolled in any college, study any major, and are required to have a minimum GPA of 2.5/4.0. Selected students earn $5,000 for the 10-week (400-hour) work experience in a placement community. Pairs of fellows live in their placement community to work on community-defined projects and serve their host communities.

If you have questions, please contact a  team member below.
 

Student Application for 2022

magan tofflemire

Allison Metschke
2021 Wahoo Student Fellow

"The hands-on and shadowing experiences I had from the Rural Fellows program were far more enriching than merely hearing about them in a class."

Through their projects, Rural Fellows help communities solve problems, address pressing issues, and build on each town’s unique assets. The work pays off—recent economic analysis indicates that, on average, participating communities realized an economic impact of over $15,000 by hosting Fellows. In addition, student and community Fellows gain valuable diversity experience, develop inclusive leadership skills, and build connections throughout the state.

 To better prepare students and communities for the Rural Fellowship program, all selected student and community Fellows receive a three-week training hosted by Dr. Helen Fagan, RPN’s diversity and inclusion researcher and consultant, and her team. The interactive and transformational training focuses on inclusive leadership, team building, and community development.

 Additionally, students and community Fellows receive the following:

  • Individualized coaching by qualified coaches throughout the summer
  • Guidance and a community visit from RPN staff
  • Numerous connections to experts across the NU system
By working closely with research faculty from across the NU system, students connect the university’s intellectual capital with communities in every corner of the state.

the impact of THE rural fellowsHIP PROGRAM

Our Fellows make life better in your communities.

In 2020, after a condensed eight-week program due to COVID-19, participating communities saw an average economic impact of $15,000. Click the reports below to learn more:

Want to know more?

View the videos below to hear from 2021 Rural and Community Fellows about their projects and impact.
Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What does the timeline look like for this process?

  • Aug. 1–Dec. 31, 2021: Community recruitment
  • Oct. 1, 2021–Jan. 31, 2022: Student recruitment
  • Feb. 1–Mar. 31, 2022: Interviews and selection of student Fellows
  • May 2-20, 2022: Pre-Academy Training—this is a virtual, asynchronous, self-paced training to prepare student and community Fellows for their experience. It typically takes 8-10 hours to complete.
  • May 24-26, 2022: Academy Training—This is 2.5 days of team bonding and activities to prepare teams for their time in their communities.
  • May 31–Aug. 5, 2022: Experience—Approximately 10 weeks of living and working in a placement rural community.
  • Aug. 5, 2022: Final Presentations—This is a 1-2 hour ceremony where we recognize and celebrate our participants' accomplishments. 

Q: Can you give me examples of some previous projects?

Communities offer a variety of different projects each year. Some examples include researching LB840 and developing an implementation plan, establishing a community marketing and social media presence, developing a website to share mental health resources, or analyzing a community’s strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities to develop an action plan and begin working on it. Oftentimes, communities also focus on more tourism-friendly projects, such as organizing community activities and events, gaining community support for local attractions, or designing and enacting a community beautification plan. You can hear more about previous projects through the videos above.

Q: Can you explain how you match students to communities?

The primary basis for matching students to communities depends on the project(s) that a community is trying to accomplish. Certain projects require certain skills, abilities or interests, so we strive to match communities with students who have those skills to successfully accomplish the work. Additionally, we work to match student pairs and community leaders that we believe would work well together based on their leadership styles and work preferences. The information guiding this matching comes from the applications and interviews with both students and communities.

Q: Is housing provided for students within the placement communities? What does that housing look like? How do communities find that housing?

Communities provide housing for the students. The type of housing depends on what the community has available. In previous years, communities have identified apartments, rental houses, homestays, hotels, or local college dorms.

Q: Are students on their own for meals?

Yes, students are responsible for providing their own meals.

Q: What is the typical dress code for this experience?

Dress code depends on the workplace expectations in each community. It is common for students to wear business casual and occasionally wear business professional for formal presentations or events.

Q: What if I have a planned family obligation this summer?

In the past, students and community leaders have been able to take time off the program for vacation or other short-term obligations. Students will need to request for this time off from their community supervisor.

Q: Do students have the opportunity to earn course credit through this experience?

Yes. There are a couple ways to do so. Students can enroll in ALEC 422: Facilitation and Project Planning for either the winter or summer sessions to partake in a course related to this experience. Please email Helen Fagan (below) for information on how to enroll. Students can also earn internship/capstone credit through their department.

Our Team

Staff

helen fagan

Dr. Helen Fagan
program coordinator

helen.fagan@unl.edu

amardeep kaur

Amardeep Kaur
research lead

akaur3@huskers.unl.edu

jennifer okoliko

Jennifer Okoliko
program lead

jokoliko2@huskers.unl.edu

kim peterson

Jordan Rasmussen
community lead

jordan.rasmussen@unl.edu

Faculty Fellows

gina matkin

Dr. Gina Matkin
Faculty Fellow

gmatkin1@unl.edu

ferial pearson

Dr. Ferial Pearson
Faculty Fellow

fpearson@unomaha.edu