Hometown Intern – Gracy Utecht

Name: Gracy Utecht
Hometown: Blue Hill, NE
Affiliated Fund: Red Cloud Community Fund
School: University of Nebraska at Kearney

What’s it like to return to your community after being away for a while?
It has been really special and comforting. My eyes have been opened to all the amazing assets in my community that I was often overlooking while living here. I now know that I need to cherish my time in this community and remember to slow down each day to embrace the amazing things around me.

What are some of your hometown’s greatest assets?
I am from Blue Hill, but am doing this internship through The Valley Child Development Center in Red Cloud. My favorite asset in Blue Hill would have to be their Fourth of July celebration. Each year, community members can enjoy playing/watching many games as well as other activities held throughout the day. At night, the town puts on an amazing firework show. My favorite asset of Red Cloud would have to be the Opera House. The past three years that I have worked in Red Cloud, I have had the privilege to help my daycare kids create and put on a play with the help of the BLIXT team.

What about the NCF Internship experience stands out to you so far? Why?
When on the two-day retreat to Ogallala, I was quickly able to notice that the NCF team is all about having a positive mindset and informing each intern that they can make a difference, big or small. Coming from a small town, I have always figured that my ideas would not be taken seriously, because everyone knew me when I was in elementary/high school. After the retreat, I know that I can make a change, in fact, I may be the push that the community needs to make a change. Even though I am just starting this internship, I know that what I will do this summer will make an impact on the community in some way.

Everyone has gifts and talents to share. What do you hope to share with your hometown this summer?
This summer I hope to spread fun and creativity throughout my community. I am hoping to make it apparent that each generation has something great they can contribute to this town, no matter how big or small.

What should older adults know about your generation of Nebraskans?
I believe that it is important for the older adults to know that my generation is full of ideas and is ready to make these ideas come to life. Change may be scary at first, but with a strong community and team to back an idea up, it can end up benefitting the town/community so much. The people of my generation are willing to work to better our communities and make them as strong as they can be.

What makes you feel most attached to your hometown?
I feel most attached to my hometown because I have spent many of my childhood years here. I went to school at the elementary school five miles away, I was involved in athletics, and much of my family lives around this area. I would not be the person I am today if I would not have grown up in Blue Hill. Growing up in a small town has its perks and downsides, but I would do it all over again if I had the chance.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future of your community?
My hopes and dreams for the future of my community are to see it thrive and be a place where families want to raise their children. I am hopeful that the members of my community will continue to grow and set new goals for the betterment of the town.

What are you looking for in a place to call home?
I am hoping that the place I call home in the future is just as inviting as Blue Hill and Red Cloud have been. I want to continue my journey in a place where I feel comfortable to share my ideas and help as much as possible. I am hoping to return to a rural town, with dreams of my future children getting to experience their younger years how I did. Whatever place I do end up calling home in the future, I hope the people are willing to work towards their goals and make the town a great place to live.

If you were designing a future for yourself in Greater Nebraska, what would that look like?
In the future, I plan on working in a rural school near my hometown as a fifth- or sixth-grade English teacher. I hope to get married decently young, get another cat and maybe a dog, and eventually start a family of my own. In the community, I am planning on becoming as involved as I can whether that be by coaching youth sports, volunteering, or in the church family.

What’s a piece of advice you have for older generations of Nebraskans?
A piece of advice that I have for older generations of Nebraskans is to stay open to new experiences. Every generation has its own strengths and weaknesses and learning how to work with them all can be difficult at first, but the stronger and more willing the people are to work together towards an overall goal, the stronger the community will be in the end.

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