First-of-its-kind partnership leads journalism students to document youth serviceship and post-flood repairs

LINCOLN, Neb., May 29, 2019 –  


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Students from the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, in partnership with Nebraska Extension, began recording stories of serviceship taking part statewide in late May.  

After historic flooding hit the region in March, the University of Nebraska established a system-wide team to coordinate flood response efforts together with regional specialists, led by dean and director of UNL Extension, Chuck Hibberd. The collaboration with Extension and the journalism department will result in dedicated student-produced news coverage of youth serviceship projects this summer.  

“The exciting partnership between Nebraska Extension and the College of Journalism and Mass Communications is just one example of how those within the University of Nebraska system have come together to support our state in the aftermath of the flood,” Dean Hibberd said. “In this case, students will get hands-on experience while providing an outlet for families, producers, communities and businesses to share how the flood has affected the region.” 

On May 23, students from the combined Meridian-Tobias Future Farmers of America chapter arrived in Columbus, Nebraska to assist in the recovery effort and those impacted by the historic storms. Journalism students, Cody Frederick, Nick McConnell and Shelby Roschewski, captured content from the event as multimedia journalists. 

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“We are thrilled to have students and faculty from the College of Journalism and Mass Communications engaged in service to our state’s recovery work,” said CoJMC Interim Dean and Professor, Amy Struthers. “They bring strong skills to the field to tell the stories of our communities impacted by the storm. We are grateful to Dean Hibberd for this opportunity to provide hands-on experiences for our students.” 

Working with Nebraska Extension Educator, Randy Pryor, a regional expert in innovative Cropping and Water Systems, the FFA students removed debris, cleared land and repaired fence posts and barbed wire near the Loup River in Columbus. The day’s effort included “82 Volunteers, 3 states, 7 crews in fields & pasture, 22 Volunteers feeding everyone and 376 volunteer hours logged,” according to Jill Goedeken, 4-H and Youth Development Extension Educator with Nebraska Extension in Platte County.  

“Visiting the Columbus area and working on this project was an awesome opportunity, and I’m excited to see what the rest of the summer has in store for us,” McConnell, a sophomore majoring in journalism, said. “This story is important to tell, and I think the finished project will be incredibly impactful.”  

“Watching high school students help repair fencing and clean up a farm that wasn’t even in their community gave me hope for the future. These students didn’t hold back when they were covered up to their necks in mud, and I think that’s a quality others can look to for inspiration,” Roschewski, a sophomore majoring in advertising and public relations, said. “I’m extremely excited to be involved in this serviceship project and to really show what being a Nebraskan means to so many people and discover the multitude of ways this flood has affected communities.” 

“Seeing how something so devastating as the flood of March 2019 can create good valuable experiences for high school students is really amazing,” Frederick, a sophomore majoring in sports media and communications, said. “The students showed what young people can accomplish when they are passionate. I’m looking forward to documenting all of the work being done, because it will show what caring and giving people the state of Nebraska has.” 

Dozens of University of Nebraska students will spend their summer taking part in flood recovery serviceships statewide.  

Keep up with all of the latest student-produced news and content over the summer at, as well as on Twitter and YouTube. Please subscribe to the mailing list to receive the latest updates from the project.  

Submit news, events and story ideas to: [email protected]


About the Flood Recovery Serviceship Program: 

The flood serviceship program is being coordinated by the university-team of experts working together to facilitate volunteer opportunities and pursue partnerships where NU expertise is needed. Based on the successful model at the Rural Futures Institute, these Serviceships will provide up to 50 NU students in communities across Nebraska the opportunity to help respond to the devastating floods, gain experience in public service and learn about how communities deal with natural disasters. The program is funded by a $250,000 investment from the University of Nebraska. Students or other interested parties are invited to contact Chuck Hibberd, director of Nebraska Extension, [email protected] or 402-472-3919. 


Jennifer Sheppard 

Assistant Professor of Practice – College of Journalism and Mass Communications 


[email protected] 

Subscribe to the Flood Serviceship Program mailing list, here. 



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