The Rural Assembly is seeking young people who are interested in rural and Native issues and invested in strengthening their communities. We look for individuals who are willing to engage in respectful and sometimes challenging conversations, and are committed to finding common ground to create solutions.
Most importantly, we seek participants who are excited and enthusiastic about making an impact in their local communities.
At the Rural Assembly, leadership takes many forms. Some of us are meant to carry megaphones, others write commentary or policy memos. Some craft art and poetry, while others stuff envelopes and work behind the scenes. But all roles are key to building community and creating change. We want all young people, especially those often caught on the margins or those serving community in quiet ways.
Who’s the right person to nominate?
Seeking mature and thoughtful leaders age 16-24 with…
Our resources and space is limited so please make your participant selections carefully based on this criteria.
In addition, we are also asking that you, as local staff or teachers, make a commitment to your young people before and after the Rural Youth Assembly Summit. We ask that you talk about the conference expectations and prepare your young people prior to their attendance. We also ask that you create the time in your organization or classroom schedule for the participants upon their return to share their experience and the outcomes of the Summit with the rest of their colleagues and peers. We strongly encourage you to have your young people share the outcomes with local leaders as well as with state legislators and their congressional offices.
This is a guest post from Anna Claussen from Voices for Rural, Minnesota. This is one example of the kind of collaboration that was inspired by the National Rural Assembly gathering in Durham in 2018. If you have other examples, let us know.
The 2018 National Rural Assembly provided the space for us to lean into the wealth of relationships, experiences, and creative power we know exists in rural America. To be inspired by the committed citizens who have been doing the hard work of showing up, creating, leading, and mending fences for a long time – and are now modeling for the nation how we mend and strengthen the social and civic fabric of our country. We carry all of it with us and we move forward – seeking equity and inclusion in communities who are bearing the brunt of violence, poverty, and extreme weather – at home and around the globe. We know that whether it’s the task of building civic courage or tackling climate change, it requires urban and rural America working together.
We have an amazing opportunity to ensure that rural voices and experiences are a vital part of the climate gap year programs and talent pipeline that FOCUS Climate Gap Year is launching Spring 2019 (spring in India; fall in China, Chile/Argentina). For years, taking a gap year before starting college (or even while you’re in your first two years) has proven to be one of the most transformative experiences to learn new skills, gain greater perspective on the world and yourself, and get on a career path grounded in purpose and community. FOCUS has developed an amazing program for youth ages 17-22 to earn college credit and access financial aid while living abroad and learning how the impacts of climate change can inspire a life-long career of purpose. Students will learn new languages and wilderness skills, live as a cohort with diverse peers, and learn from experts in renewable energy, transportation, bio-diversity, rural electrification, supply chain mapping, conservation, and policy. In addition to the experience of living abroad, one of the things I find most exciting is that FOCUS will actively support students upon returning home from their climate gap year when they join the alumni network. As part of the FOCUS network, alumni will receive ongoing support as they navigate future decisions like choosing their major, finding summer internships, exploring grad school options, and pursuing other opportunities like leadership and technical trainings, mentorships, and job placements.
It will only take a few minutes but it will have huge impact! Rural America produces youth who are primed for building community and careers with purpose. They personally know the interplay of human impact on natural systems – the complexity found living close, within, and on the land as stewards of our natural resources and on the front lines of climate change. As FOCUS co-founder and CEO, Garett Brennan shared with me on the phone last week, “Rural youth bring such a critical perspective in building strong cohorts abroad and the kind of leadership network back here at home in the US.”
When you think of this person, you see the potential they have to overcome challenging situations – the resilience and staying power to endure new environments and language barriers. Contrary to some beliefs, Garett has shared with me that this type of resilience does not require previous travel experience or a resume that includes extensive exposure to other cultures or worldly experiences. More importantly, it is cultivated within individuals who embody traits that are learned at the most basic community and familiar level. Here are a few of those traits to think about in the youth you want to nominate:
Don’t hesitate – do it today – the nomination process ends August 31st! Extending a nomination is an important act that validates and gives confidence to our youth and the important role they play in our nation’s future.