Fostering Youth Leadership and Legacy Planning: Highlights from Dreams Inspire Dreams

At the end of her lunch plenary speech, 2023 Hometown Intern Takaylynn Hergott asked any Nebraska Community Foundation Annual Fund Training attendees under the age of 25 to stand. After the applause faded and the young Nebraskans remained standing, she shared with the audience her parting words.

“Take a good look around at all of these people,” she said. “This is the future.”

This year’s Annual Celebration took special care to highlight that future, imploring affiliated fund volunteers to inspire the next generation of Nebraskans to not only dream their dreams, but pursue them with tenacity. Nebraska Community Foundation celebrated the work of youth in the network throughout the day-long training and into the evening’s celebratory banquet.

The day began with an investigation of what it means (and feels like) to be inspired, at least according to the video interviews of NCF Hometown interns and students across Nebraska. Many said inspiration feels like an internal flame, a motivating spark to aspire to greater heights brought about by the good works of others. As one student explained, it’s “just an overwhelming feeling from the heart.” In other words, dreams inspire dreams.

Through nearly three decades, one of the shared effects of the NCF network’s varied successes, of which there are far too many to count, is a tendency to spread that overwhelming inspiration. That spark travels generationally, as evidenced by children and grandchildren of volunteers taking hold of the reins to bring their own dreams to their communities. Now, with NCF recently celebrating a milestone of reinvesting $500 million into the state, the future is looking brighter than ever.

Cultivating belonging and empowerment in Greater Nebraska

In a celebration of Walthill shared during the evening banquet, attendees learned how the community at the heart of the Omaha Reservation put youth input front and center when it set about to build a skatepark. They established an NCF affiliated fund to which Omaha’s Lozier Foundation made a sizeable contribution—enough to construct the park which local students took a key role in designing. Media attention to the park quickly inspired more contributions from individuals across the country. Those are being used for future programming.

The banquet also highlighted the Diller Youth Serviceship Camp, organized and supported by the local NCF affiliated fund. The camp is pulling back the curtain for campers and showing them how a community really works and, importantly, inviting them to help co-create a place where people feel both welcomed and like they belong. A Community Asset Tour is focused on Diller’s past, present, and the future participants want to see. Not only are campers asked to think about the things that would make Diller even better, they are taking action by chipping in on various community projects and discovering what it really means to be a leader in the process.

Bridging generations for a brighter future

But today’s youth can’t build tomorrow’s success without those who walked the same path before. The day’s events also encouraged volunteers to set the stage for future generations by prioritizing estate planning, particularly through NCF’s Five to Thrive campaign. Mark Weber, an Omaha author and retired professional advisor, highlighted the importance of leaving a portion of one’s estate to their community.

“None of us do it on our own,” he said during his lunch presentation before encouraging audience members to consider leaving a portion of their estate to their communities.

Breakout sessions included many opportunities to learn about estate planning and the power of leaving a legacy in your hometown. Across the NCF network, volunteers can name individuals who left parting gifts to their communities to help those who came after continue making their places unique and meaningful. Corky Malmberg of Pender, for example, left a legacy that’s continuing her passion of science education. The evening banquet celebrated her example.

The day after Annual Fund Training, NCF hosted its second annual People Attraction Summit. The event, a collaboration with Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Chamber, convened people attraction proponents across numerous communities, professions, and industries for a day of connection, collaboration, and innovation. Attendees were required to bring at least three area students along and allow them to share their dreams for the future. Their time together was participant-led, high energy, and fully interactive.

Young Nebraskans at the annual event repeatedly expressed gratitude for those who paved the way for them to chase their own dreams. “Trust me when I say the work older generations have done does not go unnoticed,” Hergott said. “All we want is to be included and help as much as we can.”

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