Rural Development: A Team Sport

Nebraskans love their football. Go Huskers! And it's not just college ball - hometown high school teams receive outstanding support, as well.
But then, most rural towns understand the importance of supporting school students and activities. How many times has the sentiment been passed from one rural resident to another, once the school is gone, so goes the town?

But a healthy community is bigger than just the student body, and rural economies are best served by diversity of enterprise.

How successful would community development efforts be if all the townspeople held the same enthusiasm for rural revitalization as they have for football? What if, through a combination of strategic planning, visioning and relationship building, everyone had a voice in the future of their community?

The Center for Rural Affairs has a team sport that accomplishes this.

As a community development tool, a series of listening sessions are held, posing three key questions regarding the community's challenges, assets and ideal long-term objectives as they relate to a variety of issues such as agriculture, education, business, etc. From the answers, priorities are identified which serve as the beginning point for strategic planning, and action teams are formed to carry out the objectives. This process has had great success in Wyoming and is now just beginning in Nebraska.

Once revitalizing rural communities becomes a shared goal by real team players, everyone wins.

To learn more please contact Stephanie Fritz, stephanief@cfra.org or 402-358-3432, or Kathie Starkweather, kathies@cfra.org or 402-617-7946.

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