About the Center for Rural Affairs News

A lifetime of what Paul Olson loves

Paul Olson suffered a massive heart attack at age 31 and lived.

“I thought, heck, I’ve got a lifetime ahead of me,” said Paul, now 87 and living in Lincoln, Nebraska. “This is all gravy. This is all a gift. I can do what I believe in. And, I did.”

Entrepreneurs find a friendly face in Burt County

A long-time fan of the Center for Rural Affairs’ work, Patty Plugge has been an enthusiastic voice in rural matters well before actually partnering with the organization.

And, because of her commitment to helping others in her position as Burt County economic development director, the Center has chosen Patty to receive its 2019 Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) Friend Award.

Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce contributes to Latino community

For more than a decade, the Center for Rural Affairs’ Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) and the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, in Columbus, Nebraska, have enjoyed a productive partnership.

Various staff members have taken the reins on projects throughout the Latino community. Most recently, Chamber officers Jeanne Schieffer, president, and Sandie Fischer, events planner and entrepreneur/membership developer, have worked diligently to make sure these projects and events have encouraged Latino entrepreneurs to start and expand their businesses in Columbus.

Tina goes the extra mile for local entrepreneurs

For the past 14 years, Tina Biteghe Bi Ndong has witnessed the work the Center for Rural Affairs has done with the West Point, Nebraska, community. As the executive director of the West Point Chamber of Commerce, she has seen the relationship between the two organizations blossom over the years and become an integral part of that partnership.

Tina has supported entrepreneurs and given back to her community to such an extent that the Center has chosen her as the recipient of its 2019 Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) Extra Mile Award.

Staff spotlight: Shelby spreads Center’s message through social media

Northeast Nebraska and nonprofit organizations—Shelby Ostrand is a fan of both, and a stranger to neither.

Recently hired as the Center for Rural Affairs’ marketing and communications associate, Shelby grew up in northeast Nebraska, and her family has lived in the area as long as she can remember.

She describes herself as “a multi-generational farmer’s daughter,” and has seen her family go from raising cattle, hogs, and crops to just focusing on crops.


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