Tait and Kate: Go on — but don't forget to come back!
"Congratulations! Today is your day. You're off to Great Places! You're off and away!" With these words from Dr. Seuss' "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" and the familiar chords of "Pomp and Circumstance," we spent this past weekend sending kids off on...
"Congratulations! Today is your day. You're off to Great Places! You're off and away!"
With these words from Dr. Seuss' "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" and the familiar chords of "Pomp and Circumstance," we spent this past weekend sending kids off on their journeys into adulthood.
It's an exciting time for our high schoolers and college kids. It's their turn to venture out into the great big world to follow their hopes and dreams - to see how they fit and if there's anything else out there they want to try on for size.
And while they're out exploring new places and new experiences, what are we doing to bring them back home? To ensure a new generation plants roots in our local soil, to keep our small towns and rural areas healthy and growing?
Gaining experiences from living, working, and traveling in places different from those we grew up in is a wonderful opportunity. It gives people - young and old - new perspectives, new ideas and new insight into how things work, how people get along and how we can work together.
It helps us realize how we can use what we have in different ways to achieve new and better results. And, with today's technology, how we can do things in rural areas that used to be impossible.
Remember when agriculture was pretty basic crops and livestock? And the folks who got them to market?
Look at the industry now: scientists, technologists, soil conservationists, engineers, educators, analysts, marketing specialists - you name it, it's probably on the list. Kids with roots in agriculture can branch out into almost any specialty that interests them.
And a lot of those careers can be based wherever a person wants them to be. Especially for those that spend time in the field, who need to be near where their customers are.
I know we're pretty darn lucky to have some of the folks we have in our home areas. These young families add more value to our towns than just what they do in their work lives. They volunteer for our local fire department and ambulance services; they organize Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and 4-H clubs; they put together youth and adult sports competitions and events, and they're at the root of major events like fairs, annual celebrations, and community fundraisers. They're the lifeblood of our local areas.
Right now they're strong; they're in their prime. But someday, they'll need the same transfusion they provided when they came back - or moved in - and gave new life to the groups they serve and the activities and amenities we have in our communities.
But what makes people come back not just to visit, but to stay? We do! It's not just the special occasions and events that bring people home: It's us.
Any weekend - or day of the week-can be a "big deal" if we make it one. Start a family softball or kickball league with mixed teams - all ages, boys and girls, moms and dads - that plays once a week and starts with a potluck supper. Borrow a digital projector from the school or local government offices to hold a monthly outdoor movie night with BYOB - "bring your own blankets" - seating and the movie shown on an outside wall. Hold a picnic night at a local park, with old-fashioned games like sack races, egg tossing and tugs-of-war for anyone who wants to participate.
Go ahead and send our kids out to test their wings and learn about our great big world. Then invite them back and give them reasons to stay.