Leaders in rural Nebraska don’t have a crystal ball, but are doing their best to visualize what the future might hold for residents who don’t live in the metropolitan areas of the state.
The Nebraska Rural Futures Conference might have been held in Lincoln recently, but talk of the conference turn decidedly away from Lincoln and Omaha to the rest of the state.
One of the big challenges, according to those attending the conference, is making rural communities more attractive to young people. Conference participant Caleb Pollard of Ord is the executive director of the Ord Area Chamber of Commerce and the Valley County Economic Development Board.
“I think first and foremost what young people are looking for today is belief that there’s going to be a future,” Pollard says. “And most I would say, including my hometown, rural Nebraska, I would say the evidence isn’t there that they believe that they have a future.”
Pollard believes one of the keys is getting young people more involved in determining the future of the community.
“We’re having the conversation and saying, ‘What kind of community are we going to be, what kind of space are we going to occupy in the 21st Century?’ according to Pollard. “Nostalgia is great. We’re not going back to 1950 and we’re not going to have the same kind of Saturday market we had in the 1950s. So, how are we going to be competitive in the 21st Century and we’re unleashing young people to solve those problems in our community.”
The Rural Futures Conference was hosted by the University of Nebraska, which is in the process of establishing a Rural Futures Institute.
By Ken Anderson, Brownfiled Ag News for America
AUDIO: Ken Anderson reports [1 min.]