Local young historian and Main Street Nevada Director Henry Corbin, 22, is looking forward to shedding light on a town that he has loved since childhood. The Iowa State University graduate and seventh-generation Nevada resident was named as the Director for Main Street Nevada during a community session hosted by Main Street Iowa last week, and will begin his new duties on Oct. 21.


It was a goal for Corbin to work in Nevada, but unlikely, he said, as jobs related to his agricultural studies major were not commonly found in the area. To remain close, Corbin took up residency in Nevada and began work in Ames.


“I’m really proud of the community,” Corbin said. “It feels like home — I think for me it’s a town that is on the verge of greatness; (Nevada) just has a fun energy and feels like it’s on the edge of something great, and for me that’s exciting just because I want to see what that next chapter is.”


Since the announcement, Corbin said he’s been surprised by all of the support he’s received.


“I’ve just been floored by people coming up to me and saying, ‘Congratulations, you’re a great candidate,” Corbin said. “It just kind of amazes me a little bit; it’s really nice because coming into a position that is pretty much brand new knowing that there are those that have that faith in you really helps to kind of get your footing.”


When the director position opened this year, Corbin hesitated to apply, he said, as he was already serving as a board member on Main Street Nevada. If he did apply, Corbin knew he would voluntarily step away from the board to avoid conflict of interest during the application process.


“The challenge of the unknown territory appealed to me more and more,” Corbin said. “It’s a great group of people on the board and I just couldn’t think of a better place to want to be.”


Hiring a director for Main Street Nevada was the first task the board needed to complete, according to Main Street Nevada President Steve Skaggs. The director position – which oversees Main Street Nevada’s four committees: Design, Organization, Promotion and Economic Vitality, and works to promote the organization– was to be established by Nov. 1, Skaggs said, and was met with over 30 applicants.


Although candidates varied in work experience, most generally fit into two categories, Skaggs said: young professionals looking to make a career for themselves or those with years of experience in the workforce looking to start fresh in a new area. The ideal candidate was someone knowledgeable, personable, and whom also possessed rapport, Skaggs said.


“We had some great people apply to this,” Skaggs said. “Henry just did a great job; he’s really able to communicate [his passions] very clearly and his interest in this position.”


Corbin’s easygoing, non-confrontational manner, as well as his interest in local history made him an ideal candidate for the position, Skaggs said.


“He’s a very popular guy around town,” Skaggs said. “He’s been heavily involved in the historical [side of] things with the community and he just kind of checked all of the boxes for personality.”


Although Corbin is a young, he believes his age brings curiosity and energy to the director’s position.


“I love the challenge and I love having to learn new things,” Corbin said. “I think something that gives me a bit of an advantage is just the fact that I’m willing to learn and that challenge, that hunger of wanting to get out there and make a visible difference.”


“With it being my community too, there’s a little more of that instilled, too.”


Researching Nevada’s downtown and educating community members has been a passion of Corbin’s for years. Corbin has assisted in the historical information section of the application where he collected historical photos of Nevada’s downtown and later spoke about Nevada’s history during the city’s presentation to become part of Main Street Iowa.


Corbin’s history lesson didn’t stop there. Each week, Corbin pours over county records, newspaper archives, and a Nevada history book to pull out information for “History with Henry,” a weekly Facebook post on “Main Street Nevada, IA” that brings a piece of history back to life.


“It’s been fun having to dig for those stories,” Corbin said.


In his new position, Corbin hopes to continue to write history for Nevada’s downtown district, as well as invite those in the community into his office.


“With our big streetscape project coming up, I really want to make sure our business owners know that they’re not on their own,” Corbin said. “We want to support them and help them as much as we can; ultimately we want everyone to make it through the project and we want to have this great space that we’re all dreaming and hoping for.”


Although the job holds an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule, Corbin plans to spend time downtown with businesses owners and staying around the community.


“It’s definitely not a sit-at-your-desk only job,” Corbin said. “Our type of community responds better if you’re out there in the community and I think that’s what our district is hungry for and our town is hungry for, and it’s honestly what I’m better at.”