Rural Fellowship

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.

For questions or comments, contact ruralprosperityne@unl.edu

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!

Host Community

We select communities through an application and interview process. 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
  3. funding for the seven-week period
Learn About Becoming 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. I would definitely recommend this experience to other communities."

Student Fellows

We select student Fellows through an 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 seven-week work experience. Pairs of fellows live in their placement community, work on community-defined projects and serve their host communities.

Learn About Becoming a Student Fellow
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."

2022 Rural Fellows Final Presentations
Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What does the timeline look like for the 2023 season?

  • Oct. 1, 2022: Applications for students and communities open.
  • Nov. 27, 2022: Applications for students close.
  • Nov. 30, 2022: Applications for communities close.
  • Oct. 15-Dec. 15, 2022: Interviews with communities and selection of Student Fellows.
  • Jan. 3-6, 2023: Student and community matching.
  • Jan. 9, 2023: Notifications sent.
  • Jan 20, 2023: Acceptance deadline.
  • Jan. 23-27, 2023: Student and community fellow announcements made.
  • May 22-30, 2023: 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. (Note: For students, an alternative 1-credit course is available during the spring semester that will satisfy the requirements for pre-academy.)
  • May 31, 2023: Student dinner with host communities
  • June 1-2, 2023: Academy—These two days of team-bonding activities prepare teams for their time working together in their communities.
  • June 5–July 21, 2023: Experience—Approximately 7 weeks of living and working in a placement rural community.
  • July 28, 2023: Final Presentation—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

Headshot of Helen Fagan.

Dr. Helen Fagan
program coordinator

helen.fagan@unl.edu

Headshot of Darrell King.

Darrell King
Experiential Learning and
Community Engagement Coordinator

dking14@unl.edu

Headshot of Fidadu Alemayehu.

Fikadu Alemayehu
Gradudate Assistant/
Community Contact

falemayehu3@huskers.unl.edu

Headshot of Jennifer Okoliko

Jennifer Okoliko
GRaduate Assistant/
Student Contact

jokoliko2@huskers.unl.edu

Headshot of Kim Peterson

Jordan Rasmussen
RPN Extension Educator

jordan.rasmussen@unl.edu

Headshot of Amanda Kowalewski

Amanda TULLER
RPN Extension Educator

akowalewski2@unl.edu

Headshot of Russell Shaffer.

Russell Shaffer
Storyteller

rshaffer11@unl.edu