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Our members know their states! Read why Nebraska might not be for everyone, but may be for you, from our humorous Nebraska member, Tom Rauner.

Name: Thomas Rauner

City, State: Lincoln, Nebraska

Organization: Nebraska Office of Rural Health

How long have you lived in Nebraska? Why do you choose to live there? I’ve lived in Nebraska all of my life on the same farm as my great grandparents (4th generation). I grew up just outside Gilead, Nebraska (Population 38); we call it a farm and city folks call it the suburbs.

How is 3RNet impacting Nebraska? We find that many of our health care providers are home grown and 3RNet provides a connecting point for those who train outside the state or may be looking to return home.

What are the best cultural events that happen in Nebraska? For a bird lover like myself it is the great migration of Sandhill Cranes, over 500,000 make their pilgrimage each year as they have for 10,000 plus years and stay for about a month in the middle of the state along the Platte River. For the sports fans, the Nebraska Husker Football team is the biggest attraction, as the stadium which seats 90,000 becomes the third largest city in the state and has a sold out record since 1962.

Why should a health professional choose Nebraska over surrounding states? It is a state with a vast expanse where one can get away and enjoy the great outdoors as well as having a world class zoo in our major metropolitan city of Omaha. The Sandhills of Nebraska is a unique area covering a third of the state in central Nebraska. There are more miles of rivers in Nebraska than any other state.

What loan repayment programs does Nebraska have? Anything that makes those programs unique? Nebraska utilizes three primary loan repayment programs: Nebraska State Loan Repayment, the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) State Loan Repayment Program, and the NHSC Loan Repayment Program. What makes Nebraska unique is that they have their own state shortage areas which use separate criteria from the NHSC. These programs are very competitive and have a significant impact for rural areas and underserved populations in urban areas.

How is the J-1 Visa Waiver program utilized in Nebraska? Through the J-1 Visa Waiver program our office receives around 15 requests per year and they vary by specialty and location which you may find on our website's most recent report.

Are healthcare professionals valued in Nebraska? Do you have any examples? We are very fortunate for a state with a population of just under two million to have two medical schools and two dental schools. We treasure our health care professionals and have coordinated our training efforts to target and encourage students and faculty through the Area Health Education Centers.  We have focused major efforts at growing our own and providing loan repayment incentives to help them follow their dreams of serving their family and friends.

Why do people travel to Nebraska? I used to think it was only because of the interstate. Being part of the 'fly over' part of the country isn’t something that really any of us feel insulted about, as we just get to enjoy it for ourselves. Maybe you have seen some of the self-deprecating humor in our recent tourism advertisements: "Nebraska 'Honestly, it’s not for everyone.'"

What sports teams does Nebraska have? For the sports fans, the Nebraska Husker Football team is the biggest attraction, as the stadium which seats 90,000 becomes the third largest city in the state and has a sold out record since 1962. There are other great sports as well but none take up as much of the sports section nearly year around.

What is your favorite local food? There are too many to name! We have the basic hearty Midwest comfort food, and of course we are one of the top beef and pork producing states in the country. Beyond that we actually have a number of various ethnic restaurants due to the various refugee settlements and being part of the great melting pot.

What is Nebraska best known for? Nebraska was once called "The Great American Desert". In 1927, Edwin E. Perkins of Hastings invented the powered soft drink Kool-Aid. J. Sterling Morton founded Arbor Day in Nebraska City in 1872. The state nickname used to be the "Tree Planter's State", but was changed in 1945 to the "Cornhusker State".

What is the biggest misconception about Nebraska? Lewis and Clark noted that the Sandhills was “The Great American Desert”, but it also has below it the world’s largest underground lake which, if filled, would cover the state with 40 feet of water. There are some pretty impressive landscapes--it’s not just what one sees driving along Interstate 80--including the expansive Sandhills area with rolling hills, the Bluffs, Toadstoll Geologic Park, and of course places like Chimney Rock which the wagon trails noted as they moved across the State of Nebraska.

What are the biggest industries in Nebraska? Despite a long agricultural heritage, Nebraska's modern economy is well diversified beyond corn and beef. Some of the major industries in Nebraska include military, financial services, transportation, and, of course, agriculture.

How is the weather/climate in Nebraska? The western half has a semi-arid climate. The entire state experiences wide seasonal variations in both temperature and precipitation. Average temperatures are fairly uniform across Nebraska, with hot summers and generally cold winters. You definitely get all four seasons!

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