Rural Prosperity Nebraska welcomes newest Extension educator

Rural Prosperity Nebraska welcomes newest Extension educator
May 7, 2024
Ben Dutton joins Rural Prosperity Nebraska as the newest member of the community development arm of Nebraska Extension. While Dutton has lived throughout the Midwest and Intermountain West, he graduated high school in Wakefield and has lived in McCook for the last eight years. So Nebraska is home. Dutton will serve the west central portion of the state, including Arthur, Keith, Lincoln, Logan, McPherson and Perkins counties. Read below to learn more about him.
Tell us a little about your family life.

Janet and I have been married for 25 years, and we have four children. Two of them are in Lincoln—Bryce is studying computer engineering, and Emma is at the UNMC College of Nursing. Sienna is 17 and currently living in Spain as a foreign exchange student for her senior year of high school. Isaac is in seventh grade.

What drew you to Rural Prosperity Nebraska?

What could be better than working with communities and individuals to support them in improving their lives? I was thinking the other day that being an RPN Extension educator is like being an entrepreneur with a guaranteed paycheck—I get to develop a thriving Extension business within the job description with excellent support.

What aspect of working with community development are you looking forward to most?

I’m excited to work in local food systems and entrepreneurship, primarily. I think these are critical issues and will continue to be critical issues. Community development in rural Nebraska is a high need with the potential to be high impact.

At what point would you say your work in a community has been “successful”?

For me, it’s all about individuals improving their quality of life. It’s fun to say that a program had this impact or that impact for a community or group of people, but the reward is the one individual or family that is truly living a better life because of the support or education I provide.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Professionally, I would point to some of the leadership opportunities I have had in both K-12 and Extension organizations. I have served as a high school principal in a couple different school systems and superintendent for five years. I’ve also had the privilege of recently serving as the Engagement Zone Coordinator in Southwest Nebraska for about five years. In those responsibilities, I have been able to build up faculty and staff, and hopefully make their work more fulfilling and enjoyable. Personally, I would say my relationship with Jesus and my family are my greatest achievements.

What is something that most people don't know about you?

Many don’t know that I played Rugby during my undergraduate years at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

What is your life like outside of work?

Janet and I flip and manage residential properties. I’m an avid investor, and I love to learn and research all things personal finance. I love to travel, camp and hike with my family.