CHADRON – Chadron State College has received a $100,000 wellness grant from the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN). Associate Professor of Health Physical Education and Recreation Dr. Britt Helmbrecht, author of the grant application, said she plans to use the funds during the next three years to support educational events, guest speakers, contracted services, part-time student employment, and promotional materials.

 The BHECN funds came from an allocation of American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) funds from the state legislature.

Tara Wilson told me about this opportunity after I shared with her my ideas for initiating more campus wellness events and resources,“  Helmbrecht said. “In the past, we have collaborated on events to support student wellness through her position as co-director of BHECN-Panhandle and my other roles on campus.”

On Jan. 19, Helmbrecht and Wilson presented a poster discussion at the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators' Well-being and Health Promotion Leadership Conference in Kansas City. The title of their poster was Collaborative Initiatives Focused on Addressing Student-Athlete's Mental Well-being. It detailed an event hosted by Wilson and future strategies aimed at addressing the mental well-being needs of student-athletes.

Helmbrecht named Campus Wellness Officer

CHADRON – Chadron State College Associate Professor of Health Physical Education and Recreation, Dr. Britt Helmbrecht, has been named Chadron State College’s Campus Wellness Officer (CWO).

Helmbrecht said her idea for campus wellness is not to duplicate or take over what others are doing but to highlight and promote events related to wellness.

“So many activities and resources are already available and help improve student wellness and many may not realize that wellness is not just fitness and nutrition or seeing a counselor. Wellness can also include social activities and support through peer mentoring, environmental components such as getting outside and walking instead of driving, and occupational supports like workshops hosted by the library or opportunities like internships,” Helmbrecht said.

Aside from promoting such events, Helmbrecht plans to provide additional activities based on what students need and want.

“For example, a social media poll showed students wanted to try yoga,” she said.

She accommodated that request by teaching a restorative yoga session Feb. 15. She and her student staff manage the @csc.wellness Instagram account.

“The goal of primary prevention in health and wellness promotion is to provide knowledge and resources to students before the situation is dire,” she said. “Offering stress management workshops, for example, can provide tools students can use when they need them and before it becomes a crisis. My hope is for students to learn how to cope and thrive through prevention strategies.”

She said she wrote the grant with a two-fold prevention goal: helping students and avoiding overloading the counseling center.

Helmbrecht, a faculty member since 2015, advises students and teaches Personal Health and Wellness, Fitness Activities, Group Fitness Instruction, Health Topics, and Community and Environmental Health. She teaches the Sports Reporters Capstone course and has previously taught Sports Officiating, Advanced Fitness Activities, and Team Sports. She is the first female Faculty Athletic Representative at CSC. In 2022, she participated in the American Association of State Colleges and Universities' Emerging Leaders Program in Washington D.C.

In the community, she is the president of the Northwest Nebraska Trails Association, a group involved in maintaining trails for hiking and non-motorized vehicles. She is the secretary of Bike Walk Nebraska, a member of the American College of Health Association, and a certified group fitness instructor by the American Council on Exercise. 

Those interested in contacting her about the grant may reach her at 308-432-6374 or [email protected]

Speaker: You can make a difference in children's lives

CHADRON – The emotions of children was the topic of the 33rd annual Excellence in Early Childhood Conference at Chadron State College Feb. 18. Keynote speaker Jenny Benson based her remarks on the 2015 movie Inside Out, in which the emotions of a young girl, Riley, are portrayed as a supporting cast helping her navigate life's challenges.

Benson is a Registered Circle of Security-Parenting Educator and Circle of Security-Parenting Classroom Facilitator.

Her main topics were: Responsive Relationships, Positive Experiences, and Consistent and Secure Environments.

After a brief introductory lecture about the anatomy and physiology of the brain, Benson asked attendees to create each section of the brain with a different color of molding clay. She explained that neural pathways can be like positive or negative ruts in a mud road. The more either a positive or negative experience is repeated, the more it becomes ingrained in a child’s worldview or thoughts, emotions, and reactions.

She asked participants to contrast and compare an example of a child who normally goes to the grocery store with their grandparents compared to a child who is never allowed to go outside.

“By providing activities, guest speakers, walks in nature, and a variety of books, you can make a difference. We can learn until the day we die. We can change the brain. It’s plastic. We can change it until we die,” Benson said.

Benson discussed Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and offered some techniques for reducing their negative consequences.

ACEs are common nationwide, even in Nebraska among white, middle-class households with insurance, Benson said. They can include violence, abuse or neglect, witnessing violence, losing a family member to suicide, and observing substance abuse and mental health problems.

According to Benson, ACEs result in a myriad of dangers and risks as children get older such as higher-than-usual occurrence of diseases, suicide, and others.

“The way you care for, speak to the child, and the environment you provide can all mitigate ACEs and help prevent negative outcomes,” Benson said. “Be strong, kind and committed. You matter. It’s magic. You are so important. It cannot be overstated how important you are. Be warm, caring and kind.”

She encouraged attendees to join a Circle of Security group, an organization created to benefit children through positive intentionality.

Benson said the deep desire to be loved is the loudest cry of every human.

“You have the ability, every day, to have the children feel like they matter to you. Children learn to manage emotions in relationships. Even as adults, we still need co-regulation from others. The only way a child will stay regulated is if the adults around them stay self-regulated,” she said.

Benson asked attendees about the unintended negative consequences of adults wanting children to be happy all the time. Audience members offered the following suggestions: they don’t learn coping skills, they distrust themselves, they play a role or lead a double life, feelings can build into an explosion.

Using the analogy of an iceberg, Benson asked the care providers to think of causes or influences on children’s behavior that are not always visible. Attendees offered possibilities based on their experiences, including lack of sleep, lack of food, lack of vocabulary to express their feelings, underlying or undiagnosed medical conditions, lack of adequate opportunities for movement, and lack of a routine.

Benson said helping children develop emotional literacy is important.

“When you say to the child, ‘You’re angry.’ And the child corrects you and says, ‘No, I’m frustrated,’ that’s a win because you know they have an understanding of different emotions,” Benson said.

She encouraged the audience members to create book nooks in their childcare centers with books for different ages.

“Use books during outside play, meals, snack time, large groups, and small groups,” she said. “Reading a book over and over is good for the children, even if it is boring for you. Successful social emotional learning can take place in everyday routines.”

Benson asked the audience members how they build relationships with the children in their care. They offered several suggestions: cuddling, using their names, one-on-one communication, physically being down on their level, remembering their activities and following up.

CSC hosts annual Western District History Day

CHADRON – Chadron State College will host the annual Western District History Day March 3. Coordinator of the event, Project Coordinator Kate Pope, said the schools registered to participate include Chadron Middle School, Chadron High School, Crawford Elementary School, and Crawford High School.

The theme is Frontiers in History: People, Places, Ideas. Categories include performance, exhibits, websites, documentary, and research paper. The public awards ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. in the Student Center.

The top three winners in each category will advance to the state competition in Lincoln April 1, according to Pope.

Sellars Named Project Strive/TRiO Student of the Month for January 

CHADRON – Chadron State College student Juliana Sellars is the Project Strive/TRiO Student of the Month for January. Sellars, a junior from Westminster, Colorado, said she chose CSC because of its affordability and location, which she said is the perfect distance from home.

Sellars, a Rangeland Management major with minors in Equine Management and Agribusiness said she wasn’t sure what she wanted to study when she came to college.

“I was set on pre-vet when I first came here because I have always wanted to help horses, but did an internship when I was a senior in high school to become a vet and didn’t love it as much as I thought I would. So I started thinking of other ways I could help horses,” Sellars said. “That’s when I started to look into equine therapy.”

Growing up around horses, Sellars said she was familiar with equine massage and acupuncture because it was something she and her aunt both invested in to help their horses, but she always thought a veterinary license was necessary to practice it.

Sellars said her initial interest in horses began in middle school.

“I rode horses when I was little and then got into competing as I got older. I earned my first title in middle school as Jefferson County Junior Princess and my career really took off from there,” said Sellars.

She said her most notable accomplishment so far was being named the Rodeo Queen for Deer Trail, Colorado, home of the world’s first rodeo in 1869.

“I was crowned at the 150th anniversary of the rodeo, which was really cool,” Sellars said.

Sellars didn’t picture herself being a rodeo queen when she was younger but has learned to enjoy the benefits of being in the role.

“Being a rodeo queen has helped with gaining confidence in so many ways,” said Sellars. “Always being in the public eye helps me be more conscious of my actions and behaviors. It makes me want to be the best version of myself.”

After graduating from CSC, Sellars plans to earn her license for equine acupuncture and massage, a process she plans to complete through a 12-month course.

“I definitely thought about not going to college at all and just taking the courses to get my license in equine acupuncture and massage right after graduation, but was encouraged to visit some colleges and fell in love with CSC when I toured,” Sellars said.

Sellars is a Resident Advisor, a position she always knew she wanted.

“I was kind of a leader in high school, and I knew I wanted to be an RA in college,” Sellars said. “I also didn’t get any scholarships to come to college and when my grandparents volunteered to pay for my education, I wanted to do everything I could to make the bill as small as possible.”

Amanda Lewin, Retention Specialist for Project Strive/TRiO said Sellars is deserving of Student of the Month for her hard work in academics and responsibility.

“Juliana is a very optimistic and responsible person who works hard at her academics,” Lewin said. “She is very active, both in our program and on campus. She has volunteered to lead a Paint the Library program later this month, a program designed to create student artwork to decorate the King Library where she works. We are continually impressed by Juliana and grateful to have her be part of our program.”

Chadron State College’s Project Strive/TRiO program, located in the lower level of the King Library, is an academic enrichment program committed to help students succeed. Project Strive also focuses on career exploration, cultural and social enrichment, and self-awareness. To be eligible for the program, a student must be one of the following: A first-generation student where neither parent has a four-year degree, meet low-income status based on U.S. Department of Health and Human Services criteria, or have a documented disability. For more information, visit