PCDC Works To Engage Next Generation

3 Oct 2017

A recent workshop about engaging young leaders in the community gave PCDC staff some new insight and reinforced that current initiatives are on the right track.

PCDC’s new Director of Business Services Carley Bruning and Director of Administrative Services Stacy Pafford attended the “How to Get Your 20-30 Somethings Engaged in the Community” workshop organized by the South Platte United Chambers of Commerce in late August.

Six panelists, including Black Hills Energy Supervisor Brandon Malleck of Holdrege, shared their stories about why they chose to live and work in central Nebraska.

“We thought we could glean something that would help us when we are trying to recruit people to the community and then how to engage them once they are here,” Stacy said of the workshop.

Carley said the event allowed PCDC to share some of its successful initiatives, such as the Holdrege Young Professionals Group and the High-Demand Jobs Scholarships, and also gave them new insight on what more could be done.

Growing up in rural Nebraska, Carley said she was encouraged to leave her community to find success.

“We were always told to spread your wings and fly,” she said. “Because our generation was raised that way, we are struggling to get people to come back and plant their roots.”

She said it’s important to start young and change that view of success.

“What if we changed the success story?” she said. “What if going off to someplace else to be successful isn’t the story for all of youth?”

That’s why she likes PCDC’s high-demand jobs scholarships that encourage youth to return to the community. She said a high percentage of students return to a community because of family, but they often stay because of the opportunity to make an impact.

At the workshop, Carley said she learned that many younger generation workers want to make an impact and then move on, and that’s OK. The focus doesn’t always have to be on long-term retention.

 “We may not have them here their entire career, so maybe we need to refocus and use their talents the best we can while we have them,” she said. “If we have them for five years, we need to utilize them and not pressure them to stay.”

Carley said purpose-driven groups and activities are important to encourage community engagement.

“By having more things for the younger generations to be engaged in, hopefully that helps them show up for work, want to live in our communities and help find their purpose here,” Carley said.

The Holdrege Young Professional Group that PCDC helped launch last year is an example of a successful initiative designed to engage young employees. Although some employees might not think of themselves as “professionals,” Carley said she wants all people who are working in our community to be involved.

“We want everyone in the work force to know they are welcome,” she said. “And, age is state of mind. There’s no age cut-off.”

The HYP group plans monthly activities that may involve socializing, service or learning. Recent activities includes a Cinco de Mayo party and downtown building tour, BD & Beers and Allmand & Ales events at local manufacturing facilities and a workshop to learn about civic involvement. Upcoming activities include a Trunk-or-Treat booth and a New Year’s Eve bash. For more information or to stay updated about upcoming HYP activities, connect with Holdrege Young Professionals on Facebook or contact Carley at carley@phelpscountyne.com.