Civic Nebraska Expanding Youth Engagement and Leadership Programs to Rural Nebraska

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By Kelsey Arends, Civic Health Program Manager

Nebraska is home to many vibrant rural communities. Starting this academic year, Civic Nebraska is partnering with the Agriculture Leadership, Education and Communication department at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and the Rural Futures Institute to create the Rural Civic Action Program. Civic Nebraska has established substantive youth engagement programs in Lincoln and Omaha classrooms, and we’re excited about expanding similar programming to rural communities.

The Rural Civic Action Program is designed to engage rural high school students in critical thinking about community strengthens and areas of improvement, and then take action through a service learning project to address needs in their community. Undergraduates enrolled in a course on leadership and service learning at UNL will collaborate as peer mentors, facilitating the high school students in identifying community needs and crafting substantive projects to address those needs. Civic Nebraska connects the undergraduates to our growing network of rural-area teachers, and will ensure that the projects fulfill service learning and state education standards.

Partnership with the University of Nebraska – Lincoln also provides interesting opportunities to research community engagement among students in rural communities. The project will provide insight on student perceptions of efficacy, of the accessibility of higher education, and investment in rural communities.

For more information on the Rural Civic Action Program, contact Kelsey Arends – kelsey.arends@civicnebraska.org | 402.904.9151

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