Pure Nebraska: New class of Hometown Interns embarks on adventure

Originally published on 10/11’s Pure Nebraska program

Twenty-two college students from across Nebraska returned to their hometowns this May as members of Nebraska Community Foundation’s (NCF) 2024 Hometown Interns cohort.

A Hometown Intern is a current college student who has completed at least one year of schooling or other learning experience and lives at home for the summer. They are compensated for their work through a generous gift from an anonymous donor to NCF.

This year’s interns will serve NCF affiliated funds in Arnold, Bertrand, Deshler, Diller, Dorchester, Friend, Hebron, Holt County, Howells, Keith County, Leigh, Perkins County, Red Cloud, Rock County, Shickley, Sidney and Valley County. Three previous Hometown Interns will serve as Youth Engagement Interns focused on helping the other interns reach their goals.

Hometown Interns began the summer at a retreat in Keith County where they connected with their peers and learned about Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), an approach to development that focuses on identifying and leveraging the strengths and assets within a community. Over the course of the summer, they will work alongside their supervisors and other members of their local affiliated fund on a mission to discover and unleash the assets in their community. Together, they will mobilize local wonders to help their hometown accomplish its goals and dreams.

“This internship isn’t just about gaining experience,” said NCF Community and Cultural Impact Specialist Becky Boesen. “It’s designed to be a journey of self-discovery and shared growth. Together, we’ll explore roads less taken, lift-up hidden assets, celebrate the uniqueness of our places, and co-create an experience alongside local affiliated funds that will add value to the future of both students and their communities.”

While the specific tasks and projects will vary from one internship to another, NCF will provide numerous opportunities for interns to connect throughout the summer to give them space to learn from each other, share ideas and foster appreciation for their hometowns while contributing to community development efforts at the local and statewide level.

Past Hometown Interns have worked on wide variety of projects, including:

  • Documenting local history and storytelling
  • Creating unique learning experiences for local youth
  • Facilitating local arts and cultural activities
  • Interviewing local entrepreneurs and highlighting their innovations
  • Developing branding, graphic design or web-building projects
  • Leading community planning conversations

After five years of internships, the endeavor is showing inroads to ongoing people attraction efforts and dozens of interns have elected to remain in Nebraska, most of them in rural communities.

“Hometown Internships offer evidence for NCF’s longstanding belief that the key to bringing young Nebraskans back to our state is an invitation,” said NCF President and CEO Jeff Yost. “By extending to these students an opportunity to play a meaningful role in community-building, we are telling them we value their contributions to our state’s future and reminding them they will always have a place in Nebraska.”

The 2024 NCF Hometown Interns are (asterisks indicate a student returning for another internship):

  • Jake Cerny, Dorchester Community Fund
  • Allie Cosgrove, Rock County Community Fund
  • Mallory Denner, Diller Community Foundation Fund
  • Vickie Ference, Valley County Community Foundation Fund
  • Blair Fiala, Howells Community Fund
  • Johanna Ford, Bertrand Area Community Fund
  • Kaegen Held, Leigh Legacy Fund
  • Takaylynn Hergott, Youth Engagement Intern*
  • Chloe Hintz, Youth Engagement Intern*
  • Bryn Kniep, Deshler Community Foundation Fund
  • Kate Kratzer, Sidney And Greater Area Fund
  • Hannah Miller, Shickley Community Foundation Fund
  • Jordan Mireles, Perkins County Community Foundation Fund
  • Caleb Most, Keith County Foundation Fund
  • Rachel Orth, Youth Engagement Intern*
  • Hallie Pulliam, Hebron Community Fund
  • Jadyn Schultis, Diller Community Foundation Fund*
  • Bailey Schwarz, Arnold Community Fund
  • Ally Sedlacek, Holt County Economic Development
  • Mariah Sliva, Shickley Community Foundation Fund*
  • Shelby Steyer, Friend Area Fund
  • Gracy Utecht, Red Cloud Community Fund

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