SIDNEY — Jason L. Weigle has been appointed Extension Educator in Community Vitality for Nebraska Extension, based in Sidney.

His appointment was announced by Extension Educator Karen DeBoer, unit leader. Weigle began his duties on Oct. 1, replacing Connie Hancock, who has retired. He will serve Cheyenne, Morrill, Kimball, Banner, Scotts Bluff, Garden, Deuel, Keith and Arthur counties, providing support and leadership for regional and statewide, community vitality programs designed to develop and grow rural Nebraska businesses; engaging youth and young adults in rural communities; and creating 21st-Century communities that attract and retain young people.

He will work in collaboration with other extension personnel, as well as other Nebraska Extension experts, in addition to community leaders, businesses, entrepreneurs, and youth development organizations.

“Jason brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Panhandle region,” DeBoer said. “We are fortunate to have a person with his talents and passion for communities join our team.”

Added Jack Whittier, Director of Research and Extension for the Panhandle District: “We are delighted to have Jason join the team in Sidney.  His experience and energy will be a real asset to community development efforts in Cheyenne county and all across the Panhandle.  Jason will also work to continue programs his predecessor, Connie Handcock, developed in these areas.” 

Weigle is currently an associate extension educator at Nebraska Extension. His work, teaching, and research over the last 20 years have focused around community and the interactions which make community thrive. He brings a wide variety of work experience, ranging from inspecting and permitting landfills for the state of Alaska to working in unconventional oil and gas development in the United States and Canada to starting and running his own woodworking business.

Both his master’s and doctoral research focused on community and the challenges facing rural areas due to competing interests in natural-resource development and use. Jason’s work in extension focuses around community capacity development and asset building, with particular emphasis on entrepreneurial ecosystem development. He is a member of the Nebraska Rural Poll team and serves on the Extension Disaster Response and Recovery Team.

He said, “As a community developer, I believe in the power of people to solve their problems if given the right tools and opportunity to do so. Part of my job as an educator is to engage deeply with the residents of our communities and counties to understand barriers to personal and economic prosperity and find the right tools to address them.”

Weigle received a Ph.D. in rural sociology and human dimensions of natural resources and the environment from Penn State University; a master’s degree from PSU in community and economic development; and a bachelor’s degree from PSU in soil science with a minor in extension education.

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