This school year, Civic Nebraska’s Rural Civic Action Program will return at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. The program, which pairs college students with surrounding rural high schools to implement a community project, will begin with UNK’s Spring 2020 semester.
Currently, the Rural Civic Action Program connects students at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and students at McCook Community College to regional high schools. The program teaches high-school students how to think critically while bringing positive progress within their communities.
University students work with local high schoolers to determine their communities’ challenges. Once the challenges have been decided, the college students begin to work on solutions, says Daniel Bennett, Civic Nebraska’s Rural Civic Health Program Manager. College students gain leadership and facilitation skills, while high-school students become more aware of the strengths and opportunities in their towns through the process.
The high-schoolers develop and implement the community projects themselves, while the college student ‘fellows’ facilitate the process to meet learning objectives and guide reflection. Service projects in the past have ranged from fundraising to building a new high school track, to running a coat drive for the homeless.
In Kearney, the Chancellor’s class will be working with the Rural Civic Action Program in spring 2020.
The university’s location allows the program to partner with five to seven central Nebraska schools. Many UNK students come from area rural towns, Daniel says, which gives them a desire to give back to those communities. For students from urban areas, the experience provides an opportunity to know the people, opportunities, and issues of rural Nebraska. In return, many of the high schoolers within the program will likely grow up to attend the University of Nebraska-Kearney.
The Rural Civic Action Program also expects to expand to other areas of the state in the near future, Daniel says. While the program usually works with civic engagement or government classes, the program could be applied to any type of coursework or group. The only requirement is students who are passionate about creating positive change in their communities.
We’ll see you soon, UNK!
Learn more about our Civic Health Programs here.