Hometown Interns celebrate their experiences

Originally published on 10/11’s Pure Nebraska Program

For the fifth consecutive year, Nebraska Community Foundation Hometown Interns have served 15 different Nebraska communities. They say the experience has reinforced a desire to return home.

UNL College student Sam Otte is a Nebraska Community Foundation hometown intern. He’s enjoyed serving the community of Exeter, and working with the Exeter Area Community Foundation Fund. “A lot of people have a lot to give,” Otte said. “Sometimes they don’t know where they can give, or how they can give. We are a tool to where they can help benefit the whole town.” Meeting with people on main street, and identifying ways to make improvements has been a big part of Sam’s job. “I’m a big ideas guy,” Otte said. “I love hearing from other people, bouncing ideas off of them, and figuring out what projects we can do that will benefit everyone.”

Takaylynn Hergott is also a summer intern. She spent this summer working for her hometown of Hebron. Hergott has enjoyed getting the chance to understand the bigger picture of how her community operates. “So far this summer I worked on Bike Ride Across Nebraska, where 300 cyclists drove all across the state of Nebraska, and visited Hebron in June,” Hergott said. “Ever since the BRAN event, I’ve worked to make Hebron a creative arts district.” It’s been a busy time, and a productive one for her. “Working at the city office, I’ve seen the financial side, and what it costs to run a community,” Hergott said. “But, I’m also on the volunteer side, and I’ve been involved with making sure the appearance of Hebron looks good. It was good to see the back side of things, because not everyone sees what goes on behind the scenes.”

A number of hometown interns connected recently on a zoom call to thank their communities in which they served. The zoom allowed interns to read letters to their communities, and highlighted what the interns learned about themselves and their towns. Here are some of their comments: “Before this internship, I knew very little about how to keep small town Nebraska thriving,” Jillian Grovijohn with the Howells Community Fund said. “Now I can confidently say that I will never be able to look at a small town without trying to figure out what its hidden treasures or their assets are.” Cassidy Hoffman, who had an internship with the Leigh Legacy Fund shared her thoughts about the summer. “I am so proud to say that I am from Leigh, and I am grateful to have completed this internship to see our community through a new lens,” Hoffman said. Jadyn Schultis said she had an incredible time serving as an intern for the Diller Community Foundation Fund. “Thank you for an incredible two summers,” Schultis said on the zoom call. “My time as an intern for the Diller Community Foundation Fund has impacted who I am as an individual, and who I will be in the future.” And, Gracie Wenzel shared her letter to Arthur, after her internship the Arthur Area Community Foundation Fund. ” Dear Arthur, as I’ve looked upon you through the eyes of those that haven’t grown up roaming your streets, or running them as a makeshift track facility, I have been able to really see what we all mean by “it’s pretty special.” There’s something about the type of people who do things just because they need to be done. Those are the type of people that make up your community,” Wenzel said.

During our visit to Hebron, Chole Hintz discussed her summer internship in the town. She says it reinforced her plans to put down roots in Greater Nebraska. “I was very involved in my community in high school,” Hintz said. “But really having the opportunity to come back and be involved by myself, and do this for myself, was something that motived me even more to come back to my hometown of Hebron.” Interns like Sam Otte and Takaylynn Hergott also plan to return to the places they love. and continue to give back. “A lot of the stuff I learned is, it’s not about the here and now. It’s about the future,” Otte said.

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