Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Connecting to our communities

Henry Ford said it best, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

I had the opportunity to attend and help lead an early morning coffee shop discussion during the first-ever summit of the Connecting Young Nebraskans (CYN) group in Grand Island a couple of weeks ago. CYN is a network of citizens under the age of 40 who live in rural Nebraska. The purpose of the network, through the University of Nebraska Rural Initiative, is to provide a forward looking organization for younger people to shape the future by sharing their knowledge, insights and desires while learning more about topics related to their personal, professional and civic growth.

The coffee shop discussion, that I helped lead with Alyssa Smola of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts and Jessica Kelling of ReTree Nebraska, was about natural resources. Much of the discussion, not surprisingly, centered on water issues in the state of Nebraska. There were people from all corners of the state taking part in the discussion and they all had a great appreciation of water and understood what a precious resource it is.

Many of the questions they had and statements they made centered on what they can do to help – they weren’t just talking about problems that were out there in their communities. They want to help! It is important these young Nebraskans receive the assistance and tools they will need to face issues in their communities and that’s where environmental groups can be there to help. That is what made it great to be around such a group as CYN as there was a sense of working together to help create a bridge to the future.

The breakout sessions then centered around personal, professional and civic development from managing stress to coordinating volunteers, tips and tools for running for office to managing professional connections online. They all led to potential for growth in each individual.

But like Henry Ford’s quote, coming together is just the beginning and the end result is how you make it sustainable. That is the challenge for CYN but I believe that they are up to it in regards to all issues facing Nebraska including water and specifically groundwater. From the local Natural Resource Districts to the University of Nebraska to The Groundwater Foundation, we can all work together for the future of all Nebraska communities.

-- Brian Reetz

For more information on the group visit:

For more information on what individuals and communities can do to protect groundwater visit:

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