PINKE: What's next for rural America?
WISHEK, N.D. -- According to headlines, rural America went to the polls more than they had since 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected. Rural America doesn't stump commentators and analysts very often, but we did this time. Honestly, I don't think...
WISHEK, N.D. - According to headlines, rural America went to the polls more than they had since 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected. Rural America doesn’t stump commentators and analysts very often, but we did this time. Honestly, I don’t think commentators and analysts know much about us after listening to how they lump all of rural America into one category. Now that we have their attention, let’s keep it. Let’s not remain silent and wait another four or 36 years before rural America comes out en masse to vote again.
Regardless of who you voted for, there’s a renewed momentum in rural America. We fought to be recognized and now we have to work hard to keep the momentum going. That’s one of those life lessons my dad taught me, and something I recognize in my personal and professional life now.
Momentum in rural America energizes me. I’m not going to radically change anything about everyday life, but I’m not going to let my location, profession and passions keep me from having a bold, strong voice at a local, county, state, regional, national or global level.
What you do with momentum can influence your community and those around you. I saw this unfold with my daughters, Anika and Elizabeth, ages 7 and 8, late this summer when they developed a passion for making a difference through the Wishek (N.D.) Food Pantry. They wanted to have a lemonade stand to raise money for the food pantry, and after some discussion, they decided it was best to set up the lemonade stand in town in front of our business, Pinke Lumber, by 7 a.m., so contractors and workers could stop by the lemonade stand before entering the store.
The day came to set up shop, and the girls were up and dressed at 6 a.m. When you’re passionate about a project your enthusiasm influences others and makes a positive impact. My husband, Nathan, and I helped the girls haul the lemonade, which they made the night before, and set up the stand in front of the lumberyard before we missed morning traffic along Highway 13. “Morning traffic” is an oxymoron in Wishek, but the locals head to work between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., and the girls didn’t want to miss that window of opportunity. In two hours they raised $174 for the Wishek Food Pantry.
A couple months later, on Halloween, the Wishek Student Council collected food for the food pantry through “Trick or Can.” Again, our girls helped me pack two boxes of dry goods and food for the food pantry and proudly had it waiting by the door when the student council kids came to pick it up.
This month, another school organization kicked off a drive for the elementary students to collect food for the food pantry. The girls and I went to the store and bought a cart full of canned cranberry sauce, yams, instant potatoes, stuffing mix, beef stew, soups, pancake mix and syrup in celebration of holiday meals right around the corner. Knowing the contest is based on weight, the girls added bags of flour.
We stopped to visit with someone in the grocery store who then asked about our overflowing cart. I told them about the food drive contest at school. The person questioned if the food would really help those who need it most or just go to those who abuse the system.
My girls heard the comments, which took them by surprise. I was afraid their excitement and momentum might dwindle, but it didn’t faze them for one minute. If there are hungry people in our area, our girls want a full food pantry to help them. They are young and determined. Their momentum, and the school, teachers and organizations helping build that momentum, will impact them for their lifetime.
They have a passion, even in rural North Dakota, where life has them right now.
What will you do with the momentum in rural America? It’s a season to give back and give voice to issues you care about. It’s a season to get involved and stay determined. Do your part to keep the momentum going in rural America.
Editor’s note: Pinke is the Agweek general manager and publisher. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .