Dr. Kyle Ryan joins inaugural class of Rural Future Institute Fellows

Dr. Kyle Ryan joins inaugural class of Rural Future Institute Fellows

Media Contact
Katelyn Ideus
Director of Communications & PR
Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska
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LINCOLN, Neb. – March 6, 2017 – Innovation is most likely to occur where disciplines intersect and when a diverse and inclusive group of stakeholders is working hard on an issue or opportunity. The Rural Futures Institute (RFI) at the University of Nebraska has employed this fundamental principle to launch a distinctive fellows program dedicated to research, teaching and application with and in rural communities in Nebraska and beyond.

“Rural communities and their leaders face a complex, interwoven universe of factors that cannot be neatly split apart for observation and lone actions,” said RFI Executive Director Chuck Schroeder. “RFI Fellows already understand this and have been working diligently throughout their careers to create solutions and opportunities for rural people and places.

“By bringing various disciplines of researchers together with community leaders in this purposeful way, we not only intend to help rural residents thrive, but to also give rural America a significant and consistent voice, and position it as vital to the future our country.”

Fifteen faculty researchers from NU and other institutions as well as 10 community practitioners from across Nebraska have assembled to think strategically about opportunities in rural business, health care, education, technology and more. Dr. Kyle Ryan, associate professor at Peru State College, is part of the inaugural class.

“Every time I interact with RFI I come away feeling more energized and more positive about what’s happening in the rural environment,” Ryan said. “Being named a Rural Futures Fellow is truly an honor.”

Through their work, RFI Fellows will connect with partners from across the NU system, scholars from other academic institutions and experts in the public and private sectors to strengthen their capacity for research and application. They will foster student experiences in concert with communities, strengthening the community-by-community presence of RFI throughout Nebraska, the Great Plains and the world.

Ryan’s research interests include:

  • Rural pediatric obesity prevention and intervention
  • Rural community mobilization
  • Implementing high-impact practices into higher education through mentoring

More of Ryan’s interview with RFI can be found at https://youtu.be/HIi9PvIQABk and

A strong advocate and forerunner in the practice of service-learning and public scholarship, Ryan has been the recipient of the 2016 Excellence in Community-Based Teaching and Scholarship from Nebraska Campus Compact, the 2015 Teaching Excellence Award from Peru State College, a Year Nine Great Plains Public Health Leadership Institute Scholar, the 2013 Outstanding Community and Campus Collaboration Award from Heartland Campus Compact, and the 2012 Professional Health Educator Award from the Nebraska Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. Dr. Ryan is also a proud member of the Kimmel Foundation Board of Directors and active in Nebraska City Rotary.

Dr. Kyle Ryan in front of T.J. Majors

Dr. Kyle Ryan.

2017 RFI Faculty Fellows

RFI Faculty Fellows are professors and researchers who have contributed significantly to rural communities and people through research, teaching and outreach and intend to continue to strengthen the statewide, national and international knowledge resource of rural.

  • Todd Bartee, Professor, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Kinesiology and Sports Sciences
  • Robert Blair, Professor, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Public Administration, Public Affairs, and Community Service
  • Cheryl Burkhart-Kriesel, Extension Professor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Panhandle Research and Extension Center
  • Randy Cantrell, Rural Sociologist, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Jim Cavaye, Professor, Institute for Resilient Regions, University of Queensland, Australia
  • Bree Dority, Associate Professor, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Economics
  • Gregory Karst, Executive Associate Dean, University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Allied Health Professionals
  • Peter Longo, Professor, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Political Science
  • Bradley Lubben, Extension Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Agricultural Economics
  • Athena Ramos, Community Health Program Manager/Instructor, University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Public Health, Center for Reducing Health Disparities
  • Kyle Ryan, Associate Professor, Peru State College, Exercise Science
  • Jessica Shoemaker, Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, College of Law
  • Eric Thompson, Associate Professor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, College of Business Administration, Economics
  • Kim Wilson, Professor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, College of Architecture
  • Amanda Witte, Project Manager, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools

2017 RFI Community Innovation Fellows

RFI Community Innovation Fellows are community leaders, alumni and professionals from both the private and non-profit sectors working to advance rural people and places. This group represents rural places that have creatively partnered with RFI to inform outreach and programming efforts while connecting research and resources directly to communities and leaders. They are innovators in their industries and the communities they represent.

  • Tiffany Crouse, Director, Hastings Downtown Center Association, Hastings, Neb.
  • Marty Fattig, CEO, Nemaha County Hospital, Auburn, Neb.
  • Melissa Garcia, Community Affairs Manager, Black Hills Energy, Broken Bow, Neb.
  • Rachel Herpel, Assistant Director, Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Neb.
  • Don Macke, Co-Founder, Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, Lincoln, Neb.
  • Greg Ptacek, Director, Economic Development, City of Neligh, Neligh, Neb.
  • Reshell Ray, Assistant Director of Student Involvement, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Neb.
  • Robert Stowell, J.D., Stowell & Geweke, P.C., L.L.O., Ord, Neb.
  • Milan Wall, Co-Director, Heartland Center for Leadership Development, Lincoln, Neb.
  • Jeff Yost, President and CEO, Nebraska Community Foundation, Lincoln, Neb.

Extended details and video introductions of each of the fellows are available at ruralfutures.nebraska.edu/fellows.



The Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska (NU) leverages the talents and research-based expertise from across the NU system on behalf of rural communities in Nebraska, the U.S. and around the world. Through a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, the Rural Futures Institute encourages bold and futuristic approaches to address rural issues and opportunities. It works collaboratively with education, business, community, non-profit, government and foundation partners to empower rural communities and their leaders.


Jason Hogue with Peru State College contributed to this release.