Message from the Chair & President
Aksarben began over 125 years ago as a leadership convener, addressing the most pressing needs of Nebraska. We have come a long way in the many years since, but our one “true north” has always been the love we have for our state and for the hardworking people who make the heartland a great place to live, work and raise a family.
This past year reminded us of the many aspects of life we take for granted. None of us would have dreamed we’d experience a pandemic impacting our daily lives, gatherings and celebrations. As we watched history unfold, we felt newfound pride in all that Nebraska has to offer. From our first responders and farmers keeping the nation safe, healthy and fed to our manufacturers shifting operations to create hand sanitizer and our transportation and trucking industries moving supplies across the country, Nebraska led the way. We are honored to be able to come together again and celebrate Nebraska ingenuity, volunteerism and service at our Aksarben Ball. This event recognizes heartland individuals and families who go above and beyond for Nebraska while raising funds for the Aksarben Scholarship program.
Within these pages you’ll learn about the many Aksarben legacy initiatives with which you’ve been familiar for decades. You will also find information about the work we’re doing to address our state’s greatest challenge – a workforce shortage that was only exacerbated during the pandemic. Our workforce initiatives, the Nebraska Tech Collaborative, Central Nebraska Initiative and Northeast Nebraska Growing Together, are examples of what can happen when business and industry leaders come together to address the talent shortage and skills gap.
Our young talent is our most precious resource and our greatest opportunity. Each year we graduate 25,000 students from our Nebraska high schools, and each year nearly 10,000 of these students fall into a category we call “disenfranchised graduates,” meaning they will not go on to higher education or enroll in workforce training programs. Next year there will be 10,000 more. Who these students are and how we can connect with and support them are questions we need to address. Among our most important work is to engage these students before it’s too late and work to achieve a diverse, talented and sufficiently sized pipeline of workers to meet Nebraska’s growing demand. The challenge before us is daunting, but solutions are possible if we all work together.
To read the full issue of the 2021 Spirit of Aksarben magazine, CLICK HERE.