Tapping into youth’s rural passion

(c) Joe Rossi 2012
Young adults, like those at The Farm at St. Mathias near Brainerd, are eager to dig into work that builds a bright future for rural Minnesota communities.

Today’s youth are eager to contribute to the vibrancy of their rural community. They are positive about the future and ready to act. But are they being asked to?

This summer’s Center for Rural Affairs poll found that youth are more positive than their elder counterparts when it comes to the future of their community.

“The age dynamic is a surprising finding – younger people tend to be more positive than older people. Below, younger people are much more likely to say they will be better or somewhat better off in four years. It does not mean they will be living in rural areas, but it does mean they are personally more optimistic than older people in rural areas.”

This finding was echoed in the Blandin Foundation’s 2013 Rural Pulse, where 74 percent of 18 to 34-year olds said they are optimistic about the future of their community and 90 percent of the same age group believes they can make an impact in improving the quality of life in their community.

These two polls show that younger residents are the most likely to believe their community is vibrant and strong. They are equally likely to feel they are able to make a personal contribution. Their rural passion is overflowing but they are the least likely to have served in a leadership capacity, according to the Rural Pulse.

The Rural Pulse study also found that 22 percent of 18 to 34-year olds do not expect to live in the same community five years from now. However, through quality job opportunities and leadership experience, younger residents can and will make a significant impact in today’s rural America.

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