Rural folks understand and appreciate community life. Not only does it take a village to raise a child, it takes a village to sustain people and families. A village contributes to a high quality of life. People pitch in to give support and leadership in order for vital community functions to continue to exist.
The importance of community with its institutions, celebrations and traditions helps define who people are and what they stand for. They cherish a common history and look forward with hope to a future together. They understand and support community events and traditions that make a community a community.
Rural leaders. I stand in awe of community-minded local leaders who are unselfish, visionary, inclusive and skillful at organizing themselves. They have a gift of social and political skills to balance the interests of those who depend on each other over a lifetime.
They trust each other. They cooperate. They put in long hours behind the scenes. Their example of civic responsibility inspires subsequent generations of leaders who know how to work together for the good of the whole.
Rural leaders cut through obstacles and red tape with a “can do” attitude. In the process, they enjoy light-hearted fun, friendships and camaraderie. They do it because it needs to be done and their hands are needed. They are the glue, the vision and the life-blood for the community.
Why do they do it? Why do they give of themselves so freely and unselfishly? People get a sense of significance when they see the how their contributions directly affect others. They can and do make a difference. They understand and take responsibility for how their actions affect others.
Entrepreneurship. Whether it is family farms and ranches, agribusiness, main street merchants, local professions, educators or service providers, the towns and countryside are full of entrepreneurs.
I’ve seen multiple examples of ingenious entrepreneurs who see needs and produce quality products and service. They serve their customers so well that their businesses grow and become sources of employment and livelihood for other community members.
I admire the staying power of merchants, teachers, public servants, technicians, health care professionals, business owners and others who choose to make their living in small communities despite economic pressures. Many reach the leading edge of their professions and prove that occupational success isn’t limited by location and is, in many cases, enhanced by it.
Family farming and ranching. I can’t say enough about families who choose to make their living through agriculture. The hours are long, the pressures great, the markets uncertain, and weather is a huge factor in success or failure. Only persistence and optimism see people through the challenges they face.
I admire the work ethic, knowledge base, skills, financial know-how and dedication that is needed to be a farmer. I admire the partnerships between husband and wife as they work together as a family for common dreams and a family life second to none.
I see children being reared with wholesome values, the work ethic and a huge dose of family fun thrown in.
I admire the relationship and management skills that go into families farming together in multi-family farms. Considerable sacrifices are made as the dream of passing on the farm from one generation to another takes place. These sacrifices are not only in conserving an asset base but also in selflessly sharing management in order to groom the next generation of leaders.
The people. Rural people enjoy true life-long friendships and genuine affection with their extended families, neighbors, friends and associates. I see the amount of fun, light-heartedness and teasing in social occasions. They enjoy each other in unhurried conversations and sharing of activities such as hunting, fishing and other hobbies.
I see the power of the extended family in the commitment and relationships grandparents have with grandchildren, aunts and uncles have with nieces and nephews and cousins have with each other. I see the effort in getting together to celebrate life through family events, holidays, community gatherings, baptisms, graduations, confirmations, weddings and other special occasions. I appreciate the down-to earth, common sense, religious values, service and perspective on life that keep rural people grounded in sound living and happiness. Local wisdom keeps people from getting carried away by fads, popular culture, materialism or personal pride.
I admire the genuine caring and help that is given to families facing tragedy and disaster. I have felt the warmth of hospitality and graciousness of rural people to each other and to strangers who are off the road or have any kind of problem. I respect the tolerance and acceptance rural people show to those with disabilities, the amount of loving care and value given to the aged and a huge commitment to the young. They are all included and made to feel a part of the community. I see children in the limelight. Children are valued and supported in their activities whether it be in drama, music, athletics, church groups, 4-H, FFA or other extra-curricular activities.
Rural people share the excitement and cheer at activities and sporting events for their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews and other people’s children they have come to love as dearly as their own. Children have meaningful interactions with adults of all ages and walks of life. They feel like they belong when they sense that the community is proud of them and cares about them.