Amber Ross has had four separate experiences with the Rural Fellows program, which allowed her to bring new ideas to rural Nebraska communities.
Ross, who is currently the director of the Ravenna Economic Development Corporation, was a community lead in Custer County in 2019 and Ravenna in 2020. She previously served as a student fellow in the program in 2017 in West Point and 2018 in Columbus.
“I always am amazed by how excited and passionate these students are,” said Ross.
Ross said that because she’s been on both ends of the Rural Fellows experience, she understands the importance of this program for rural communities across Nebraska.
“It allows [the communities] to have somebody new come in and offer completely new perspectives and really, in some instances, push the community out of their comfort zone and do something different than what they’ve always been doing.”
The Rural Fellows program was designed in 2013 to place college students in rural communities across Nebraska. For the 2021 program, IANR is seeking 100 communities to host 200 students.
College students are placed in communities for 10 weeks during the summer to work on projects for the community. In previous years, students have worked on tourism initiatives, workforce development, childhood education, entrepreneurship and more.
This year, IANR is also offering up to $100,000 in grant funding to communities. Communities that apply for the 2021 program will be eligible to receive up to $2,000 per student fellow. Students typically work in pairs, meaning that communities would be eligible to receive up to $4,000 in support.
Applications are currently open for both students and communities.
Details are available at ruralprosperityne.unl.edu/rural-fellows.