On Wednesday I had the opportunity and privilege to meet with Iowa's Lt. Governor, Kim Reynolds, and twelve other women in agriculture for a round table discussion as part of the Lt. Governor's state-wide tour with women leaders (#kimtours99). The group talked about several issues including regulations, the importance of high speed internet for rural areas, and young farmer credits and programs.
One underlying theme of the luncheon's conversation was providing opportunities for young people to stay, work and live in rural Iowa. I am proud that I grew up in rural Iowa and continue to live, work and play in rural Iowa. But I acknowledge that not everyone is doing this, as we see school consolidations, abandoned store fronts, and fewer grocery stores. So why do I choose to live in rural America?
The main and first reason is because My Farmer and I obviously farm, but we were encouraged to come back home. I feel like a lot of high school seniors are advocated to leave their hometown and to find opportunity in the "big city". Why do people do that? We should be encouraging our youth to come back as doctors, to plumbers, to farmers.
People feel that there are limited jobs in rural America but I think because of the entrepreneurship spirit of its citizens, there are endless possibilities. Rural America is the perfect place to get inspired to start your own business. Since much of rural America has a strong agriculture sector - think of the potential businesses that are needed to help make agriculture more efficient. In fact, there are a group of young men in Iowa that just won the Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge with their ScoutPro businesses, an electronic crop scouting program. With quality internet (which is something the group talked to the Lt. Governor about) people are able to work and build their own businesses from home.
Lastly, the thing I probably like the most about rural America is the sense of community. I have family members that live in larger cities, and yes, they know at least a couple of their neighbors and will attend the neighborhood block party (if there even is one), but rural America has a huge reach. I consider people that live miles away my neighbors. We help each other out, even if we don't know each other that well. I am so proud of my community so that is why I volunteer so much. I also strive to support my local businesses. Many people in rural America see volunteerism and supporting local as high priorities, so that just adds to the feeling of community.
Do you live in rural America? What ideas do you have to support and grow rural America? What advice do you have for young people who are living or want to live in rural America? Remember to Comment for a Cause!
Be sure to check out Shannon and Katie's takes on the meeting with Iowa's Lt. Governor too.