Current Progressive Dairy digital edition
Advertisement

Why getting involved with your local rural community pays off

Theo Scholze for Progressive Dairyman Published on 03 March 2017

While I know some of you live in areas that are flourishing, there are many of us who live in areas that are simply withering on the vine, which at some point will make it difficult for us to attract new talent if our businesses are to continue to grow.

There was a time when I thought there was no need to participate in the community, local government or the school, but I have made a complete 180 in that thinking. I feel that it is only through active citizens that we can have strong and vibrant local communities.

advertisement

advertisement

As I have started to volunteer some time and effort in being more active, I was shocked at how little involvement there was from others. For example, our local school district struggles to have enough candidates for open seats, and our town board’s three members are all 70-plus and have run unopposed for several elections. Attendance at meetings is pretty much nonexistent. What bothers me the most about this is that many people have concerns about the direction of the local, state and national governments, but when asked about participating, they almost all say they don’t have the time. I just want to say: If you don’t participate, you can’t complain. After all, in a country that is supposed to be for the people by the people, if the people don’t participate, our direction will be chosen by the few who do choose to participate.

Currently on our farm, my brother has made a commitment to attend and participate in local township meetings, which has allowed us to have a better pulse on what is happening in the community, have input on the policies and raise the community's awareness of who we are and what we do. A business benefit of knowing what is happening came to us unexpectedly. We have been looking to do some paving around the farm, and by knowing when the asphalt company was going to be in the area, we were able to split the setup cost with the township, thus lowering cost to both entities, a win-win.

I have made the commitment to be more involved in the school district. Our local school district has hired a new ag instructor whose goal is to rebuild the ag and technical programs that have been neglected for some time. When she was hired, we reached out to her and offered to help. The school has grabbed on as if it were a lifeline. Once again there was a lot of talk about being involved but very little action when it came to actually helping out. At this point, we are sponsoring some activities as well as doing some classwork help with the animal science class, which will allow the students some hands-on experience with animals and feedstuffs.

There are two things that we are seeing with our involvement: First, other farms and businesses don’t want to be left behind and are now contributing, and second, we are opening the eyes of young people who are now considering the options that are open to them in agriculture fields, and we are hoping that when the time comes, we will be able to recruit some of these kids “home” to a career with a future and help our community thrive again.

While it has been only a short while that we have been back on the home farm – four years – it is already enough time to see good in what we have done and has reinforced to me the need to be active in one’s community. Not only will this be helpful in the short term, but I believe that this work will open doors and opportunities down the road that will allow us to help influence policy and public perception of our industry.  end mark

advertisement

Theo Scholze
  • Theo Scholze

  • Dairy Producer
  • Humbird, Wisconsin
  • Email Theo Scholze

LATEST BLOG

LATEST NEWS