Staff spotlight: Shelby spreads Center’s message through social media

Small Towns

Northeast Nebraska and nonprofit organizations—Shelby Ostrand is a fan of both, and a stranger to neither.

Recently hired as the Center for Rural Affairs’ marketing and communications associate, Shelby grew up in northeast Nebraska, and her family has lived in the area as long as she can remember.

She describes herself as “a multi-generational farmer’s daughter,” and has seen her family go from raising cattle, hogs, and crops to just focusing on crops.

“I love living in a rural community where I know everyone and am able to thrive,” Shelby said. “I know I wouldn’t have had the same opportunities if I had been brought up in the city. Rural is my home, and I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.”

Enthusiasm for rural America brought Shelby back to her home, and her love of the nonprofit sector drew her to the Center.

Since college, Shelby had a desire to work with a nonprofit, specifically in marketing. This led to a work study role in the development department of her alma mater, Midland University, where she assisted in planning and marketing events for the university. Shelby went on to work as a social media intern for two years for the Fremont Area Young Professionals, and also ran the social media accounts for her previous job.

“Growing up in the area, the Center was the first real nonprofit I had ever known,” she said. “I always knew I wanted to help others, and after doing research, I felt I would be at home with the Center—I love their mission and drive.”

In the newly created position at the Center, Shelby assists with different aspects of marketing and communications, specifically digital and events marketing along with social media and website management.

“Bringing awareness to what we do here can help turn people’s dreams into reality,” Shelby said. “With access to our resources, many can turn their rural community into a thriving community. I want to be a part of that transformation, even if it’s just by marketing an event happening in the area.”

And, while much of Shelby’s work is local and regional, she hopes to see the Center’s brand and mission spread much farther.

“My role is to be an ambassador between our organization and the public audience,” she said. “With social media, and the internet in general, we are able to spread that message across so many different avenues and reach so many different people throughout the world.”

When she’s not working, Shelby spends time with her friends, family, and her Golden Retriever. She also enjoys traveling and being outside, preferably on a boat, and staying active by playing sports with her friends.

She is based in the Center for Rural Affairs’ home office in Lyons, Nebraska, and can be reached at 402.687.2100 or