Rural Futures Institute: UNK’s Tyan Boyer, Collin Fleecs running health science ed camps in McCook

KEARNEY – University of Nebraska at Kearney exercise science majors Tyan Boyer and Collin Fleecs will create and run health science education summer day camps in McCook.

Beginning this week, the students will live and work in McCook this summer through the Rural Futures Institute Student Serviceship.

During the next nine weeks, Boyer of Plainview and Fleecs of Sutherland will create and run the camps, which provide hands-on educational environments that integrate skills necessary to improve the health of rural youth and inspire future health professionals.

Each camp will focus on issues such as proper nutrition and adequate physical activity, and integrate concepts such as aquaponics, farm to table nutrition, basic business skills and technology integration in each of those areas.

“I’m very passionate about this project because it is so focused on educating the next generation – it’s about having an impact 20 years from now,” said Boyer. “I’m looking forward to working with kids and practicing my communication of my health and exercise knowledge.”

A hybrid between service learning and traditional internships, “serviceships” provide communities with tangible results on important self-defined projects while giving students resume-building work and insight into the career and life opportunities in rural places.

Community host teams include subject-matter experts and leadership mentors who assist with students’ major projects, connect them with volunteering opportunities and invite them to participate in community events and activities. RFI provides support and guidance throughout the nine-week serviceship experience, and all participants learn and share on behalf of rural community growth.

The RFI Student Serviceship is a partnership with the Heartland Center of Leadership Development.

“We have had many students go into communities through RFI Student Serviceship and make a positive, significant and ongoing impact,” said Chuck Schroeder, RFI executive director. “But, as importantly, the students themselves gain real-world experience and build a network that influences them for a lifetime.

“It is our way of giving students a new or a first experience in a rural community, so they can be storytellers, champions and leaders for rural throughout their lives. And it gives communities specific results from the University of Nebraska.”

All student interns completed a one-week leadership training course hosted by RFI the week of May 22. They got to know their partners, learned more about their communities, gained details about their projects and hosted online meetings with their community host teams. NU faculty and staff, as well as community leaders, served as guest speakers, introducing the students to personal and professional development strategies as well as community development theories and practices. The students also explored Firth and Seward to hear from local leaders and entrepreneurs.

Six University of Nebraska-Lincoln students also are serving in North Platte, West Point and York. Thirty-eight University of Nebraska students have worked and served in 19 Nebraska communities through RFI Student Serviceship since 2013.