Greg Brown, Todd Bartee receive RFI grants for rural health, wellness projects

KEARNEY – University of Nebraska at Kearney faculty Gregory Brown and Todd Bartee have received Rural Futures Institute grants for projects addressing challenges and opportunities facing rural populations in areas of family health, wellness and health science education.

They are among nine award recipients receiving almost $400,000 in grants, which engage faculty and students from across the four University of Nebraska campuses as well as Kansas University, Purdue University, Peru State College and Wayne State College.

At least 32 Nebraska communities, nonprofit and business partners will be involved, and nearly all projects will include participation from K-12 students across the state. Rural mental and physical health care access, entrepreneurship and technology are among the critical topics.

Greg Brown
Greg Brown
Todd Bartee
Todd Bartee

Brown, professor of Kinesiology and Sport Sciences, was awarded a $20,000 grant for his teaching and engagement project “Teaching Health, Exercise, Technology and Aquaponics Day Camps to Grow Future Health Professionals.”

Developed by a team of seven faculty members at UNK, this project focuses on inspiring and motivating rural middle school students to pursue careers in health science.

Students will participate in a series of science education camps and learn about various careers associated with health science topics through physical activity, nutrition and food growing programs. UNK undergraduate students with career goals in health science will lead the camps.

Bartee, professor of Kinesiology and Sport Sciences, was awarded a $72,450 grant for his research and engagement project “Building Capacity for Developing, Implementing and Evaluating the Family Health and Wellness Coalition’s Community Health Improvement Plan.”

The Family Health and Wellness Coalition formed in 2015 with the focus of reducing chronic disease risk among Nebraska residents of Boone, Colfax, Nance and Platte counties.

This emerging coalition is motivated yet hampered by challenges to participation, resources and other core capabilities such as planning, implementing and evaluating their work. Through this project, partners will produce a systematic community change process that can be replicated in other rural areas.

“For America to thrive, our rural residents must thrive. The challenges and opportunities facing rural communities in Nebraska and across the country require action-oriented collaboration and commitment,” said RFI Founding Executive Director Chuck Schroeder. “The University of Nebraska, together with partners, is rigorously seeking and developing solutions that will help our rural people and places. Even more exciting, what we learn here can be scaled broadly, so Nebraska becomes a national model for building vibrant rural communities of the future.”

Extended project descriptions and lists of all current contributors and partners are available at


Media Contact: Katelyn Ideus, Director of Communications and Public Relations, Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska, 402-659-5886,