DES MOINES, Iowa — Most college students spend their summers back at home with their families, hanging out with old high school friends or working summer jobs.
But Seth Varner and Austin Schneider decided to take their summers to another level by visiting 939 Iowa towns in just one summer.
The pair are students at the University of Nebraska. During the summer of 2020, the Nebraska natives wanted to see more of their own state. The COVID-19 pandemic gave them the "perfect opportunity" to start Visit531.
The goal was to visit all 531 unincorporated towns in Nebraska, and they achieved their goal with ease.
"People always joked around with us and said that we should go do another state," Schneider said. "And we always just pushed it on the side, like, 'OK, funny,' you know? That's a big task."
But then Varner and Schneider went to Oklahoma City over spring break, passing through small Kansas towns along the way.
"And we just started talking and thought, you know, how fun it would actually be to go out and do a whole other state and see all these new towns that like we've never been to before," Schneider said.
Grabbing a map from Walmart, the dynamic duo mapped out their trip and launched Visit939Iowa, their Facebook page that serves as their own online scrapbook of trip memories.
Varner said they pick an area for a day with about 20 towns they want to see. They then head to those towns, take pictures and post to Facebook to find out where they should head to next.
"Our followers hop on there and they're like, 'Oh, yeah, you should check out this attraction, eat at this place. And if you want to meet somebody in this town, reach out to me,'" Varner said. "And that's basically how the trips are planned— is whatever people want us to do. We usually try to do as much as possible, because no one knows the area's better than the locals."
Their Facebook page currently has more than 25,000 followers, and they're "not even close to being done" with their trip, Varner said.
The college students don't necessarily have a lot of their own cash to spend on their trip, so they set up a GoFundMe account to help with expenses.
If you'd like to donate, you can find their GoFundMe page by clicking/tapping here.
Varner and Schneider are also working on a book to document their trip through Iowa, complete with fun facts about each town and their photos featuring a stuffed Energizer Bunny.