More than a decade ago, Ogallala Commons committed itself to building a collaborative network. We are a small nonprofit organization, and our vision was impossible to achieve without other organizations, civic groups, public institutions and agencies, as well as businesses and entrepreneurs. Since then, partnerships have become the lifeblood of OC’s mission outreach, and together, we build internships, apprenticeships, Youth Engagement Days and Youth Entrepreneur Fairs, Playa and Water Festivals, Rebuilding Local Food Systems initiatives, and much more. Regardless of the size of the partner or the extent of their relationship with OC, the goal is always the same: to build together what cannot be achieved alone.
Here are some examples of Community Partners we have had the privilege of working with through the years:
Swisher County, Texas
County Judge Harold Keeter took the lead by meeting with OC staff in 2007. A few months later, OC conducted a Community Leadership Training Course for county residents, followed by a Community Forum, then finally a Youth Engagement Day–all in the same year (2008), and paid for with county funds. The county’s AgriLife Extension agent, Calley Runnels, provided the leadership for three strategic actions: she linked 4-H kids and parents into youth engagement, informed administration and teachers in the local schools about the programs, and introduced the Leadership Advisory Board (LAB) members to OC, making sure that at each quarterly meeting, more and more groups became educated and involved. As participation in OC’s vision of commonwealth grew, so did new opportunities in Swisher County. By 2009, county partners invested in their first Community Intern, Delissa Villa (an alumnus of that Community Leadership class in 2008). In the following year, there were 2 more community internships, then 3 in 2011, 4 in 2012, and 5 this past summer.
Leaders from Atwood attended a Leadership Summit that OC conducted in Burlington, Colorado in 2004. These folks soon grabbed hold of the tools of Home Town Competiveness, (HTC) a program featured at the Summit. Within a year, Atwood was investing heavily in all four HTC pillars: youth engagement, leadership development, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy. In 2005, OC assisted in the implementation by conducting a Youth Engagement Day in Atwood, fol- lowed by our first Youth Entrepreneur Fair in 2006. Atwood partnered to create its first Community Internship in 2008, and has now established a total of seven. Also in 2008, some producers in the Atwood region got behind the ideas of local food, and worked with OC and Rocky Mountain Farmers Union to launch the High Plains Food Cooperative.
With 200 residents and a school enrollment of less than 70, Campo has worked with OC to conduct an oral history project, a water education festival, 2 Youth Engagement Days, and 4 Youth Entrepreneur Fairs for Baca County since 2009. Even as a sparsely populated ranching and dry-land farming country, young people desire to come back to Southeastern Colorado, for a variety of compelling reasons. As a tool for building reliable rural futures, Campo has created 7 Community Internships in the past 5 years.
Holy Family Church (Nazareth, Texas)
As the key social organization in the village, Holy Family Catholic Church worked collaboratively with civic organizations in Nazareth, TX, creating 15 Community Internships since 2008 and investing more than $25,000. In addition, Nazareth partners have hosted 2 Youth Entrepreneur Fairs and a Youth Engagement Day.
Arnold EDC (Arnold, Nebraska)
Great partnerships achieve multiple outcomes. Arnold Economic Development Corp. has spearheaded the development of 4 Community Internships since 2010 that have enhanced community celebrations, built up the website information for the village, and created a digitally- searchable database for historic Arnold Cemetery.
First Nations Development Institute (Longmont, Colorado)
Not limited to communities—OC also seeks out institutions and agencies that create social impact in the Great Plains region. First Nations Development Institute is a policy, research, grant making, and lending institution, working to mobilize the capacity of Native Americans for controlling their own economic assets. This past summer, FNDI partnered with OC to create 3 Community Internships to help Native communities in New Mexico to strengthen their local food systems, improve health and nutrition, and build food security.
We would like to thank each of these communities and organizations for their partnership with and commitment to our organization. Note that our partnerships are not limited to communities. We also seek out institutions and agencies that create social impact in the Great Plains region.
To learn more about our partnerships, and to become involved, visit our Partners page on our website.