succeed. This is still a challenge that we face...although I think Millennials and Homelanders are and will continue to embrace relational and social values of rural living more than we give them credit for. If we as adults lead the change in OUR "assumed and projected" expectation and beliefs that today's youth are also leaving because local opportunities are limited, than we can begin to break throuh a somewhat self-inflicted delima.
Why do youth leave? Because...
1) We adults give them the perception it is what they need to do
2) They do not perceive there are opportunities locally
3) They do not feel like valuable - an adult has not asked them to return AND
4) They are not asked what they want to see in their communities to meets their current and future quality of life interests.
Community leaders, program directors, resource providers, parents, etc. either do 'for them' or 'to them' what we think they want. We
rarely "ask them" what they think or what would like.
If we are all doing all we can in our rural communities to: 1) ask youth what they think can improve their quality of life to; 2) seek their ideas in solving problem that currently or will influence them in the future to; 3) get them behind the doors of our businesses, organizations, and industries to let them "see & experience" the technology and opportunities they are being told don't exist to; 4) mentor and prepare them for their next journey to; 5) engage them and to; 6) let them know we value their unique gifts, interest and abilities...we will see them staying, returning or attracting growth!
How are we/will we do this?
Youth leadership, entrepreneurship and community engagement activities are and will help break this assumption. Coupled with the online offering of continuing education via most colleges/institutions, the acceptance of certifications and with the vast new types of technology-based opportunities - many yet to be developed and realized by many of these youth in these generations - the "need" to "have to go away" is not much of an obstacle any more.
At the same time, all of us who have gone away and returned recognize the added cultural, societal, economic, and experiental/life lessons we have acquired and brought home. So, if we intentionally all work together in our communities to create and sustain practices and programs to mentor and nurture relationships and plug youth into potential business transitional and career development opportunities, give them a mailbox or even just a continual message that we WANT them to stay or 'land' back home...we will see our attraction numbers increase.
These efforts may help youth overcome 'their perceived beliefs' that if they 'end up back home' that they failed. Alumni associations, churches, chambers, economic developers, community foundations, area educational opportunities, workforce & career developers, business/industry, concerned passionate adults & youth...have to work together to embrace the opportunity to strategically make this a priority and an 'every day' practice/purpose! #growourown