Rural Matters

There is power in individuals in rural areas working together.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Nov. 5, 2014) — Chuck Schroeder, director of the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska, said it is imperative that rural areas attract the people who can make small communities the better choice. Schroeder said rural communities matter economically, socially, culturally and environmentally for the counties and states in which they are located and for the entire country.

“We have to take what we have and what we know and turn it into what we want,” Schroeder asserted. “We look for local leaders who say, ‘We’re not ok with the way things are, and we’re going to do what it takes to make it better.’”

Schroeder said there are many challenges to rural development, including job creation, business development, leadership, youth engagement, education, health care, child care and more. He said it comes down to individual responsibility and individual contributions that lead to a better community and a better country. Schroeder said many of the graduates the institute surveys every year and many young people who started their careers in large urban areas would like to live in smaller communities with some chance to make a positive difference.

“There are legitimate opportunities in rural areas for innovators and entrepreneurs,” Schroeder said. What the Rural Futures Institute hopes to do, he added, is build the capacity of individuals and build their confidence. Schroeder said impacting and imparting hope — genuine hope — matters.

Schroeder quoted Shane Lopez, “Hope is an active choice. Hope can be learned. Hope can be shared.” Schroeder said the Rural Futures Institute wants to make hope contagious. He said they use information from the Nebraska Rural Poll, which has been ongoing for 19 years. Though 65% or more of the respondents say they want a thriving rural community, only 30% think it is possible in the next 20 years.

Schroeder said hope inspires young people and agricultural leaders to strengthen rural communities and, thereby, strengthen America.

Schroeder spoke Wednesday, Nov. 5, during the Angus University program featuring "A Story of A Steak." This extension of the award-winning series of articles in High Plains Journal and segments on The Angus Report was sponsored with support of Merck Animal Health. For more information about the Angus Means Business National Convention & Trade Show, visit


Editor's Note: This article was written by staff or for the Angus Journal®. It is available for reprint upon request to editor Shauna Hermel. Photos are available upon request.

ANGUS MEANS BUSINESS. The American Angus Association is the nation’s largest beef breed organization, serving nearly 25,000 members across the United States and Canada. It provides programs and services to farmers, ranchers and others who rely on the power of Angus to produce quality genetics for the beef industry and quality beef for consumers. For more information about Angus cattle and the American Angus Association’s programs and services, visit