A new crop of rural youths will get training in the homebuilding trades thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Renaissance Nebraska Project.

The gift will help expand the Omaha-based “Builders of the Future” training program — which is now offered in several urban schools — into some of the state's rural high schools.

Spokesman Tim Kenny said the mission of the Nebraska Rural Renaissance group, started more than 15 years ago by a group of bird-hunter friends, is to promote and strengthen small towns in  Nebraska. Members are hitting retirement age and wanted to pass what was left in their coffers to a nonprofit. Their funds are donated or raised through events, and include no taxpayer dollars, Kenny said.

The Renaissance group chose Builders of the Future, which committed to extending training into nonmetro high schools.

Professionals in the construction field serve as mentors to the program’s budding builders, who get hands-on experience by building playhouses, high-tech chicken coops and other structures. The program also has a “Train the Trainers” arm that prepares instructors.

Kenny, also director of the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority, said the Renaissance group sees housing as a way to help grow communities, and homebuilding as a career that could keep young people in rural areas.


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