I hear it all the time. “Kids don’t know how to work.” “Kids today are spoiled.” “The U.S. education system is failing.” On and on and on. Put it all together, and the picture of the future can look pretty bleak. However, I recently attended our local FFA banquet, and I can tell you with all sincerity that none of those conditions applied to the kids in the room that evening.
Anyone who has read my commentaries knows I’m a proud dad. Though I probably deserve minor credit for the way my kids are developing, I’m still very proud. You’ll often hear kids say their parents are their heroes, but it’s the opposite for me – my kids are my heroes.
But I see a lot of these FFA kids working to make their community better. Like my own kids, they’re up early doing chores before school, studying and excelling in school. And then they finish up the day with extracurricular activities, more chores and studying at night, before hitting the pillow by 9:30 p.m. or so. These aren’t the kids we have to worry about. They not only have bright futures, but they’ll help to ensure a bright future for America as well.
Of course, I know there are great kids everywhere who achieve great things; they aren’t found only in rural America. However, I believe the percentage of such young people tends to be just a little higher in rural America.
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I think it’s the values they learn, and the opportunity to work with, and to understand, the circle of life, that sets these rural kids apart from their urban counterparts. In addition, it’s the support of rural communities for their children. Many communities in this country don’t have professional or big-time sports and cultural events to attend. Instead, these communities put their support toward their youth and their community’s youth programs.
FFA is a great organization that teaches life skills, leadership and values. Another is 4-H. Needless to say I’m very partial to both these programs. However, anyone who has had a great coach or teacher in their life can point to other programs that change lives in a positive way.
My wife and I chose the rural lifestyle because it’s how we want to live and raise our kids. I’m relatively certain that we could have achieved more financial success if we’d chosen to live in urban America. Without a doubt in my mind, however, there is no better place to raise kids than rural America.
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