Sustainability, Rural America, And Youth


On the campus of Creighton University. Creighton University. Source: Creative Commons / Troy Johnson

In November, I was invited to Creighton University to speak in front of a group of students participating in an innovative course that directly relates to the work I am so passionate about – creating a new future for rural America through Love Small Town America.

It was an honor to be invited to speak to Barbara Dilly’s class: Sustainability and Rural America. I met an amazing class of bright, well-educated students. It is promising and exciting to know we as a society are teaching our youth to be leaders and to make a difference in our rural communities.

This class talks about why it is important to educate leaders to remain in small towns.  I could tell they were soaking in everything Barbara Dilly was teaching them – and they should be! She is a wealth of knowledge in this area.

I was particularly impressed with some of the projects they were working on. One of which was the task to find any small town in America, learn about the community and find something to do if you lived there for a year.

The class is currently reading “Hollowing Out the Middle: America’s Rural Brain Drain” by Patrick J. Carr and Maria J. Kefalas and comes highly recommended. It now sits on my nightstand waiting to be read.

More info on Barbara:

Nicole Godek, CEO of Love Small Town America, presented at Creighton during November 2012.

Land of Opportunity – The Rural Opportunities Conference in Review

Conference booth

LSTA joined Kansans from across the state at the Rural Opportunities Conference in November.

This is the 2nd year I’ve attended the ROC and I enjoyed it this year as much as the first year. Governor Brownback has an impressive way of setting the tone for the entire conference. He is a true believer in rural Kansas and has demonstrated his commitment to rural America by introducing the Rural Opportunity Zones, of which LSTA is excited to be a part. His letter to conference participants resonates with my ideals for sustaining rural Kansas, and America.

“There’s no doubt that rural Kansas has faced some serious challenges in recent years, from declining populations to communities facing the loss of businesses and young talent. However, I am confident that the fortunes of rural Kansas are changing in a positive way. The state has become the No. 1 location in the nation for wind farms under construction, which has helped bring jobs and investment to rural Kansas. The state could see another oil and gas boom, much of it taking place in rural areas. Rural Opportunity Zones are attracting young, talented professionals from all over the country to our small communities. Major tax relief enacted earlier this year will spur small business growth and put more money back into the hands of Kansans.”

Kansas is doing some amazing things for our rural communities and I believe we have a very bright future. We can all make a difference in our small towns, even if it’s one tiny step at a time. As our slogan goes:

Take Part. Make a Difference.

Nicole Godek, CEO of Love Small Town America, attended the Rural Opportunities Conference Nov. 7-8, 2012 in Junction City, Kansas.