Stick Creek Kids attend state early childhood conference

Several members of the Stick Creek Kids leadership team were among more than 400 civic, business, and education leaders from 92 Nebraska communities attending the 2019 Thriving Children, Families and Communities Conference on September 16-17 in Kearney. Participants learned more about how providing high-quality early childhood education can support a town’s children, its families and its economy.

Early childhood programs play a key role in community economic development—both because working families seek reliable, quality care in choosing where to live and because research shows that children who have benefited from high-quality early childhood programs become better students, better employees, and more productive citizens. The conference is held in response to statewide calls to better understand how communities can provide high-quality early childhood education. It offers opportunities for attendees to share success stories and challenges, learn from each other, and develop action plans for implementing high-quality care and education from birth through third grade. With the progress made so far in Wood River and Stick Creek Kids campaign, Wood River was invited to lead in some of the panels including Elizabeth Troyer-Miller in Cities in Action: Building Early Learning Communities and Sara Arnett in Capital Projects: Tools for Funding Your Center.

Following the first day, those participating in Communities for Kids were invited for a second day of more extensive planning and progress meetings, including Stick Creek Kids leadership team. That evening, Wood River hosted Nancy Lim of the National League of Cities. Wood River is one of six communities in Nebraska and the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation participating in a National League of Cities initiative, City Leadership for Building an Early Learning Nation.

This year’s event was sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Education, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, First Five Nebraska, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, Nebraska Community Foundation, Nebraska Extension, Buffett Early Childhood Fund, and the Buffett Early Childhood Institute.

Partnering organizations are the Nebraska Association for the Education of Young Children, Nebraska Association of School Boards, Nebraska Business Development Center, Nebraska Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Nebraska Council of School Administrators, Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative, Nebraska ESU Coordinating Council, Nebraska Head Start Association, Nebraska Hospital Association, Nebraska State Education Association, Panhandle Partnership, Inc., and the Rural Futures Institute.

Stick Creek Kids celebrates at Wood River Fun Fest

Fun Fest Weekend in Wood River is always a great time and Stick Creek Kids was excited to have a part! This year, Stick Creek Kids hosted the first annual Kids Fun Run at Wood River High School. Over 50 runners participated divided into age groups. All kids received a free t-shirt and medals were given out for first, second and third place, thanks to sponsorship by CropMetrics. Following the Fun Run, Stick Creek Kids walked in the Fun Fest parade as part of the Wood River Centennial Community Foundation.

NTV: New childcare center to buy old Wood River nursing home

WOOD RIVER, Neb. — The group behind an effort to bring a new childcare center to Wood River said they have plans to buy a recently-closed nursing home.

Wood River Vision 20/20 and Stick Creek Kids Child Development Centerannounced Wednesday that they will be purchasing the former Good Samaritan Society-Wood River building for a reduced market rate of $100,000 on the building with a $1.4 million tax assessed value.

“While closing Good Samaritan Society – Wood River was a difficult decision, we are excited and grateful that the building will continue to serve the community in such an important way,” Good Samaritan Society Regional Vice President Nate Schema said. “We’re looking forward to seeing how Stick Creek Kids uses the space for its own mission.”

“We were all disheartened to hear the news that Good Samaritan Society – Wood River was closing and there was nothing we could do to change their mind. Once that was known, we did consider that this may be a good fit for our project,” Sara Arnett explained. “There were several moving pieces and we’re fortunate that things fell into place on this transaction. We look forward to closing on July 12 and begin working on plans for remodeling.”

Chelsie Doane added, “We’re very appreciative of Good Samaritan’s support of our vision to keep Wood River growing while helping families find reliable, quality early childhood education for their children. Because this property is considerably larger than our original plans, we’re excited to be looking into possible partnerships that would be a good fit for the community.”

Those behind the project say it's been driven by Wood River Vision in response to a critical shortage of child care in central Nebraska.

They said the Stick Creek Kids capital campaign currently stands at roughly $1.4 million with a goal of nearly $2,000,000 to remodel and furnish the new non-profit child care center to serve children ages 6 weeks to 12 years. Any excess funds will be held in a fund to help provide long-term financial sustainability and provide scholarships for low income children to attend the center.

KSNB: Stick Creek Kids Development Center to open new daycare at Wood River's old Good Sam

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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Wood River's old Good Samaritan Senior Living Center will be getting new tenants. The Stick Creek Kids Development Center announced they've purchased the building for a new day care.

The group had been fundraising for a new daycare in Wood River. When they heard the building was being sold, they saw a great opportunity for the area. They said what they have now is not keeping up with the demand.

"We have a lot of kids and families who need regular and reliable childcare," Elizabeth Troyer-Miller, with the Stick Creek Kids Vision Board said. "We really tried to illicit and support the growth of in home daycare and just weren't getting a lot of people to come on board. So we decided to build and now here we are."

The group says they're sad about Good Sam closing, but are happy to be able to keep the building alive.

First Five Nebraska: Governor signs proclamation focused on community economic growth

Governor Ricketts signed a proclamation declaring this Community Development Week to celebrate Nebraskans who are working every day to build their communities and grow this beautiful state. 

“Community Development Week is an opportunity to celebrate the hard work by people across our state to create a great quality of life in their communities and grow Nebraska,” said Governor Ricketts. “It’s also a week when we acknowledge the federal, state and local resources, as well as the partnerships and local support, that make community and economic development achievements possible.”

At First Five Nebraska, we strongly believe that a quality early childhood infrastructure is a necessary pillar for economic development and community growth, alongside affordable housing, transportation, internet connectivity and other needs that help communities thrive. We know positive early learning environments lay the foundation for marketable skills that prepare young people to adapt to the demands of emerging businesses and industries. We also know strong child care options are a powerful attractor and anchor for the new and returning talent our state so desperately needs. 

As part of Community Development Week, we’d like to highlight several communities that are incorporating early childhood into their own strategies for economic growth. Gothenburg, Columbus, Wood River, Albion and Pender have all developed public/private partnerships to build or enhance existing early childhood infrastructure. These and other communities are finding innovative ways to address the needs of employers and working parents.

First Five Nebraska applauds Governor Ricketts’s decision to proclaim this Community Development Week. As our state continues to grow, First Five Nebraska will continue to work with communities to help them address their early childhood needs. 

Elizabeth Lopez Everett
Policy Associate
First Five Nebraska

HuskersOnline: Frost receives hometown welcome in Wood River

WOOD RIVER, Neb. – The native son of Wood River finally came home on Tuesday.

For the first time since becoming Nebraska’s head football coach, Scott Frost made his first public appearance in his home town in front of over 500 people in Babel’s Barn in Wood River.

“It’s crazy everywhere I go I’m the head coach of Nebraska, but I feel like when I come back around here, I’m just Scott,” Frost said as the crowd applauded.

The event was a fundraiser for the Stick Creek Kids Child Development Center, which is in the process of being built in Wood River. They have raised nearly $1.3 million of the $2 million they need to build a state-of-the-art childcare and preschool facility to help attract more families to Wood River.

Frost was accompanied at the dinner by both his parents and former Wood River football coaches Larry and Carol Frost.

Scott Frost reiterated to the crowd how great it was to be back home in Nebraska after living in so many different places the last several years.

“I’ve lived in 13 different states now chasing this crazy game around,” Frost said. “Sometimes that gives you perspective that the grass isn’t always greener somewhere else. I’ve lived in California and didn’t like that. I’ve lived in Wyoming, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, New York, Kansas, Iowa and Oregon. After you go through that sometimes you realize that maybe the people that stayed home were the smart ones.”

As for on the field, Frost knows his team has their work cut out for them, but things are well on their way after a successful spring.

“We are working our ass off to make you guys proud,” Frost said. “Just being honest with you, when we got to Lincoln there was a lot to fix. To put it nicely, it was more broken than any of us even expected. When we walked in the door there was a lot of things to fix internally and there was a lot of things to fix with the team.

“We needed better talent, we needed better attitudes and we needed to get bigger, faster and stronger than we were. Year ones are tough. Year one at (UCF) was tough. We lost every close game we played. We were discouraged. We wanted to win more than we did. We made a real big turnaround in year two. Down there we kind of expected it would be year three when the big turnaround would happen, and everything just kind of came together and it happened in year two.

“I can tell you we are probably further ahead at this point in the progression than we were in Florida. Not saying we are going to have that kind of season like we had in year two of Florida, but I can promise you things are coming, and we are moving in a really good direction.”

Odds and ends 

***Frost told the crowd becoming father has been the best thing in his life.

“Listen I’m an old dad,” Frost said. “I waited a long time to get started, but it’s the greatest thing I’ve done in my life.”

***Frost also spoke at Riverside Golf Club in Grand Island at their Chamber Luncheon Tuesday.

***A painted portrait of Frost went for $1200 in a live auction. Two tickets to the Indiana game, complete with sideline and corporate tailgate passes, went for $2400.

KLKN: Coach Frost returns to Wood River for first time since being named head football coach

Early childhood education is what Stick Creek Kids and Wood River Vision 20/20 is hoping to fix.


Scott Frost made his first official trip "home" since being named head coach of the Husker football team.

Coach Frost finally made it back to Wood River and spoke with attendees at the Welcome Home Tailgate to help raise money for early childhood education.

Organizers said that it's much needed in their community.

"I'm a working mom but I work part-time and it's pretty comfortable but it's also a little more difficult to find childcare. You are always maxed out on childcare options and we only have just a handful of in-home providers," said a Stick Creek Kids Committee member Elizabeth Troyer-Miller.

Early childhood education is what Stick Creek Kids and Wood River Vision 20/20 is hoping to fix.

With two surveys, they found 65 households that said they would consider using childcare if it was available in town.

"There need was there for childcare as we have ladies here in town who have been doing childcare for years who are retiring and want to slow down so the need has really amplified here lately. These people are getting together and we are trying to get this going so it will be really good for the town to have this childcare around," said Wood River city council member Eric Nielsen.

"We want this to be a place where kids are stimulated, where their social-emotional developmental is being monitored and encouraged, where they are learning in a way that helps their brain development because we really see that as a way of encouraging not only the health of our families but also our communities and the future communities that those children move onto," said Troyer-Miller.

Organizers said they've already raise 60 percent of their just shy of $2 million goal for the center, and with the tailgate they said they've raised over $1.3 million.

Coach Scott Frost of course helped that.

"Wood River is doing some really good things and some of my friends are some of the people leading it to try to help the youth of this town. That's important. We all have a role in making sure that the next generation has every advantage that we had and more, and I think they're doing a really good job of it here," said Husker head football coach Scott Frost.

The Stick Creek Kids committee said they're hoping to break ground by the end of the year.