How about a rural location for new Rural Institute?

Friday, May 18, 2012

We enjoy living in small towns, or we wouldn't be here, but that doesn't mean we don't think they could use improvement.

In fact, it takes growth to even maintain the standard of living that makes rural life attractive.

The Lincoln Journal Star is reporting that University of Nebraska-Lincoln officials hope to help out, launching a $1.5 million annual effort called the Rural Futures Institute in September, and hoping to land a major endowment like one that launched the Daughtery Water for Food Institute in 2010.

It's a real concern. Last week, organizers were expecting 300 people to turn out for a conference on the topic; 475 from 29 states and several foreign countries came to Lincoln.

The university has hosted 550 people in 16 focus groups across the state over the past two years to come up with ideas for the institute.

We offer one more; if it's already been suggested, this can serve as an endorsement:

Locate the Rural Futures Institute in a rural town.

It's easy to conduct studies and intellectual exercises from an office in Lincoln, but the work takes on a sense of urgency when the shop down the street is closing or the town is in danger of losing mail service.

We know of several prime office locations, even right here in McCook.

Nothing could make a Rural Futures Institute more effective than giving it a vested interest in the future of rural Nebraska.

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  • That was mentioned when the UNL team visited McCook. Also no UNL Rural Institute officials live outside of Lincoln.

    -- Posted by dennis on Sat, May 19, 2012, at 12:44 PM
  • I work for the University of Nebraska and actually live in Diller which is basically on the Kansas border between Beatrice and Fairbury. I'm blessed to have a job that engages me in 'rural' and also allows me to live and work near my home so I can also help my husband farm and manage a trucking operation.

    I was lucky enough to be one of the Rural Futures Planning Team members who got to travel out to McCook and various other communities to talk about the concept of the Rural Futures Institute. It was a great experience and I met some amazing people. I'm originally from Valentine and have grown-up and lived in a rural setting my entire life, except while I went to college, and I have grown to respect the rural lifestyle and intend to raise my children in rural Jefferson county.

    I appreciate the comments above and wanted to make sure that others know that the majority of the Rural Futures Planning Team is from outside the metro area. We live in places such as Diller, Crete, Grafton and Mead where we are proud to be involved with our communities and many of us have family businesses in the area that we own or are engaged with, along with raising our families in these communities.

    This is a great effort and I'm excited to have others engage in the process.

    -- Posted by kschnuelle on Mon, May 21, 2012, at 3:05 PM
  • I too was a member of the planning committee for the Rural Futures Conference. I was born, and have lived all my life in rural Nebraska. I grew up on a a crop and livestock production family farm, and currently live in the country on the family farm in southcentral Nebraska 75 miles outside of Lincoln. Another planning member grew up on a cattle ranch in the Sandhills of Nebraska and now lives near Diller, Nebraska on a farm where she and her husband farm, raising corn and soybeans. Another member of the planning committee lives near Mead, Nebraska, where he continues to farm, raising corn and soybeans on the family farm while also working for the University. A fourth member of the five-person planning team also grew up in rural Nebraksa, although does not currently live in rural Nebraska.

    In essence, I kindly would like to point out that, in fact, nearly all of the staff at the Rural Initiative DO live in rural Nebraska and outside of Lincoln, Nebraska. I believe we all have a passion and knowledge of the issues affecting rural America because we live in and are part of rural communities.

    -- Posted by KimP on Mon, May 21, 2012, at 11:03 PM
  • Planning 6team ok. UNL officials ALL said they office in Lincoln.

    -- Posted by dennis on Tue, May 22, 2012, at 9:12 AM
  • That being said, I assure you, Eastern Rural Nebraska and Western Rural Nebraska are two different rurals. Living 75 miles away from the state capital vs 72 miles away from a town of 25000 +/- is a big difference.

    This, to be fair, can only be realized through experience. The west end of the state and panhandle tend to be the foggy part of the maps that they view from Lincoln & Omaha.

    -- Posted by Nick Mercy on Tue, May 22, 2012, at 4:37 PM
  • I would also like to add that I do realize being close to Lincoln presents a different set of challenges such as keeping business in your rural community rather that having it travel to a nearby metro area.

    -- Posted by Nick Mercy on Tue, May 22, 2012, at 5:31 PM
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