By Erin Schoenberg

Center for Rural Affairs

The true spirit of hard work and helping others is demonstrated on a daily basis in rural communities.

However, those attributes weren’t developed overnight, and need to be nurtured for a strong sense of community to continue. Individual actions for the greater good can start with each of us.

From volunteering for a local organization or event, and working with local leaders on an issue, to running for public office, rural residents can make an impact in many ways. It can be as simple, yet meaningful, as welcoming new residents, attending school and town meetings, and voting in local elections.

Increasing one’s impact in their community also comes by staying informed, whether it’s on local issues, or state or federal decisions that could have an impact locally. By knowing what is going on, residents can find out where the strengths and needs are, and how the community can build on them. Further, sharing a personal story may impact decisions being made by community, state, and national leaders, and can help one understand and connect with their neighbors.

In addition, contributing to the community’s success means supporting local businesses, many of which are owned and operated by our friends and neighbors. Purchasing food and other items and using local services keeps the money in the community, and shows small business owners their services are valuable.

Just as the contributions of previous generations have shaped rural communities, so too will those of the current generation. Whether big or small, residents can make a difference and ensure they are creating a vibrant community.

Erin Schoenberg is a senior development associate with the Center for Rural Affairs. Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.

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