Business owners hunt for knowledge, find it through REAP training

Small Business

More than a bed and breakfast, more than a hunting lodge—Whitetail River Lodge, outside of Niobrara, Nebraska, is a home away from home for its guests.

The lodge offers deer and turkey hunting on 6,000 acres of leased ground. Accommodations include lodging and meals for up to 18 people, as well as a dining area that can be used for small meetings or events.

Owners Valorie and Terry Zach have been running this business for 12 years, and acknowledge that more than a decade of success takes hard work, patience, and the ability and willingness to change with the times. For that reason, Valorie has taken part in training events and one-on-one business counseling through the Center for Rural Affairs’ Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP).

“We try to constantly evaluate where we are and what we are doing, and knew that we needed help in the social media realm, and knew it was time to stretch,” Valorie said.

So, when Knox County Development Agency partnered with the Center to provide a social media training course, Valorie jumped at the opportunity to fine-tune skills that would benefit her business.

“That was the first Center for Rural Affairs training event I attended, and I hope to partake in other educational courses when the opportunities arise,” she said. “The training was spot on for the things that business owners need to know to navigate the digital world.”

After completing the training, Valorie created a new professional Facebook business page and updated her business website. The course covered how to track user data on social media and best practices.

“The training added guidance and a freshness to what we were trying to do on our own regarding social media,” Valorie said.

Through the Center, she also received one-on-one assistance on online marketing, as well as a loan for working capital for her business.

Lori Schrader, Northeast Nebraska loan specialist with the Center, has been working with Valorie.

“Valorie took a deep dive into target marketing, identifying how to best use social media to the advantage of her business and analytics of her pages,” Lori said. “She also gained some knowledge in website development through the training.”

The lodge owner feels there is always room to learn and grow more for herself and her business.

“I’d love to learn more about how to network with other businesses in the area to bring us all forward,” said Valorie. “REAP offers great courses on staying up to date with social media and gaining more experience managing finances. Those are essential to any business owner.”

At a glance

Whitetail River Lodge
Highway 12/14 Junction at Niobrara​
89140 Highway 14, Niobrara, Nebraska