Nebraska State Treasurer Don Stenberg hosted a roomful of busy toddlers and their parents today at the Nebraska Governor’s Residence in a celebration bringing to a close the Nebraska NEST Birthday Baby sweepstakes of 2017.
Among those attending were Governor Pete Ricketts, who said he dropped by “just to see the babies,” and First Lady Susanne Shore, who thanked the families for serving as role models for other Nebraskans who want to invest in their children’s future.
“What we have in the NEST program is a way for you to invest in their future and to start to make all those dreams come true. I want to thank you for being here. Thank you for helping to promote the program to other Nebraskans,” she said, reminding guests that she and the governor are parents of twins, Roscoe and Margot, who are now in college, and a younger daughter, Eleanor. “They leave you,” she told the young mothers and fathers.
“For anybody who is tired of holding babies, I am right here,” the First Lady said before spending much of the time holding each NEST Birthday Baby, plus a few siblings.
The reunion of sorts brought together NEST Birthday Babies introduced throughout 2017. In all, eight of the 12 Nebraska NEST Birthday Babies and many siblings attended the reunion. Each of the 12 Birthday Babies received a $529 contribution to a Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST 529) account.
“This year-long celebration has heightened awareness of our Nebraska Educational Savings Trust and also introduced us to the strength of Nebraska – our young families scattered across our cities and towns and farms from Bartlett to Plainview, from Central City to Grand Island, Lincoln, and Omaha,” said Treasurer Stenberg.
“While we are involved in many promotions for our Nebraska Educational Savings Trust throughout the year, this one holds a special place in my heart,” he said, citing the event’s ties to Nebraska’s 150th birthday celebration and the sweepstakes idea itself, which came from Rachel Biar, director of NEST.
“At NEST, we wanted to be part of Nebraska’s 150th birthday celebration to honor our state’s past, present, and future. We were excited when the Nebraska 150 Commission designated NEST Birthday Babies as a Legacy program because of the lasting impact the NEST scholarships will have on 12 Nebraska families. Babies born in 2017 are Nebraska’s future,” Stenberg said.
In addition to the Birthday Babies and their parents, others recognized at the event included representatives of the Nebraska 150th Commission, First National Bank of Omaha, and the Nebraska Investment Council. First National is Program Manager for NEST, and the Investment Council approves investments in the college savings program.
Stenberg also thanked Nebraska hospitals for helping inform families of the Birthday Baby sweepstakes. In particular, he thanked CHI Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney, CHI Health St. Francis in Grand Island, and Faith Regional Medical Center in Norfolk for hosting news conferences related to Birthday Babies.
“From these young Birthday Baby families, we heard about the need to balance college saving with everyday expenses and their desire to see their newborns find life work that makes them happy and fulfilled. These parents told us about their own experiences starting jobs, being away from family in the military, or paying off college debts. They also told us about their reasons for living in Nebraska, whether on a farm or in a metropolitan area.” Stenberg said. “You can be sure every single one of them – like parents across Nebraska – wish the very best for their Birthday Baby. And so do we. We at NEST wish them all the very best.”
In the Nebraska NEST Birthday Baby sweepstakes, one parent or legal guardian of a Nebraska newborn was selected each month of 2017 to receive a $529 contribution to a NEST college savings account for the newborn. The parent was selected through a random drawing of entries submitted either by mail or online. If a family’s name wasn’t drawn in the month the family entered, the name stayed in the drawing throughout the year, giving families plenty of opportunities to be chosen.
The Birthday Babies receiving NEST contributions and their parents are listed below:
NEST is a tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan and provides four plans to help make saving for college simple and affordable: NEST Direct College Savings Plan, the NEST Advisor College Savings Plan, the TD Ameritrade 529 College Savings Plan, and the State Farm College Savings Plan. The Nebraska State Treasurer serves as Program Trustee. First National Bank of Omaha serves as Program Manager, and all investments are approved by the Nebraska Investment Council. Families nationwide are saving for college using Nebraska’s 529 College Savings Plans, which have more than 254,000 accounts, including 79,000 in Nebraska. Visit NEST529.com and treasurer.nebraska.gov for more information.
About First National Bank of Omaha
First National Bank is a subsidiary of First National of Nebraska. First National of Nebraska is the largest privately owned banking company in the United States. First National and its affiliates have more than $21 billion in assets and 5,000 employee associates. Primary banking offices are located in Nebraska, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota and Texas.