UNK Talks event highlights student civic engagement projects

American Democracy Project UNK Talks
Lacey Johnson, left, and Tiffany Hoffman participate in Wednesday’s UNK Talks event. Their presentation “Campus Kitchen Project” highlighted the kitchen’s role of providing more than 7,000 meals to individuals in need since 2006.

UNK Communications

KEARNEY – University of Nebraska at Kearney students presented their civic engagement projects during UNK Talks Wednesday.

Organized by the UNK American Democracy Project, UNK Talks were inspired by TED Talks, the popular series of influential videos from expert speakers on education, business, science, tech and creativity.

Five students presented their projects for 8 to 12 minutes in front of a panel of judges.

“The goal of the American Democracy Project is to promote civic engagement on campus, and you learn the most by doing. The more you’re sharing your scholarly work or service work that you’re doing or plan on doing, the more effective you’ll be at communicating your mission and ultimately getting something done,” said Shawn Kaskie, American Democracy Project coordinator and director for the Center for Rural Research and Development.

Each participant received $100. Presentations were judged by American Democracy Project members.

The winner, Aaron McCauley of North Platte, won an additional $100. McCauley’s presentation was titled “Break a Difference: Alternative Spring Breaks and Their Importance to Developing Leaders.”

Others presenting, listed by hometown, included:
Hastings – Lacey Johnson and Tiffany Hoffman, “Campus Kitchen Project.”
Kearney – Colten Hartman, “To Teach a Mind to Fish: The Meaning and Purpose of Being Educated.”
Kearney – Jonathan Vasquez, “Career Development.”
Omaha – Robert Foresman, “Liberty Trees: Living Memorials of World War I and II and Buffalo County, Nebraska.”

“We want students to be stewards of place, meaning helping people in their community or people in need, using sound research principles and practices and collaborating with other organizations,” Kaskie said.


Aaron McCauley of North Platte won the UNK Talks event for his presentation “Break a Difference: Alternative Spring Breaks and Their Importance to Developing Leaders.” Photo by Amanda Andresen/UNK Communications