Strengthening State's Future Starts with Connecting Young Nebraskans

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It might look like just another conference, but leaders of Connecting Young Nebraskans (CYN) say their annual summit is special because it gathers people from all kinds of work who have one common goal.

"It's a way for us to connect, to learn more about the issues going on in our state, and to voice what we see as future opportunities for us to make the state even better," says CYN committee member Penny Parker.

Parker says that by networking and sharing ideas, people are more likely to stay in the state. People like 18-year-old Tanner O'Dell who grew up in Lincoln, but goes to culinary school in Texas. Also a motivational speaker, O'Dell says he hopes to return to Nebraska one day.

"At a conference like this you have so many people that you're going to be able to meet and so many people that you can tell your story to and so many people that you can help and that can help you," says O'Dell.

Officials say another way to strengthen Nebraska's future is tying the whole state together, and they say having this year's summit in North Platte helps bridge the gap between east and west.

"It's so evident when you start to listen to these young professionals talk is that they're all so proud of their area," says Ginger Ady of the North Platte/Lincoln County Convention and Visitors Bureau. "They want people to be able to come out to their area and people to stay and see what they see."

"If we travel around we can see what's valuable about other people's part of the state and we can kind of get to know the resources available and connect people that way though their future endeavors," says Parker.

CYN leaders say they know building a strong network will take time, but in their three years they already have over 300 members.