An Omaha transplant from Colorado, Nic Nealy arrived in Nebraska for his post-secondary education to study environmental biology at Creighton University. After graduation, he decided to stay in Omaha to become part of the change he was beginning to witness.
Nic’s decision to become an AmeriCorps member was rooted in his value of national service, military or otherwise. “I think national service is a good thing for young people to do in order to gain perspective before joining the workforce,” he said. “It seemed to fit perfectly when I saw an AmeriCorps opportunity in a field that I am passionate about.” For Nic, becoming an AmeriCorps member with NCEF’s Common Ground Program was an excellent way to use his academic background in environmental biology before heading to graduate school in the future.
Nic organizes environmental education events through Common Ground in the northeast region of Nebraska, including the communities of Omaha, Norfolk, Columbus, Fremont, South Sioux City, and Wayne. He believes that environmental change is going to happen at the local level, through education and involvement in the community. “Education can be a slow, long process, but I think it’s a healthy way of convincing people to care – by reminding them what they care about.” To Nic, Common Ground works with communities on finding better conservation practices that benefit individuals.
Issues like a lack of recycling resources, loss of natural habitat, polluted waters, unhealthy food systems, and dirty energy use are all prominent concerns in Nic’s Common Ground communities. “Our communities value family and lifestyle,” said Nic. “Appealing to family is important, and these environmental issues are problematic when they threaten families’ way of life.” Nic has found that many of these issues are associated with climate change, which affects everyone in some way.
In his free time, Nic enjoys spending time outdoors, specifically by riding bikes. “Western Nebraska and the sandhills are very beautiful and I would like to do a bike tour through them someday.” Thank you for your service, Nic!