We’d like to give a warm welcome to our new Board Chair Robert Thurston.
In June, Bob shared “Why I Choose Rural” at the Minnesota Initiative Foundations board event. We are so excited for Bob’s leadership and think sharing his message is the perfect introduction!
I knew at an early age I was destined to live rural. As a young boy living in the small rural farming community of Brewster, Minn., and walking my show calves down the gravel roads of Nobles County, I remember feeling like there was no place else I would rather have been. I recall how I felt seeing miles and miles of corn and soybeans. I recall the peace and quiet, the earthy smells that one can only get from the country and how I knew, even then, that I would spend my entire working life in agriculture.
All of my 64 years of life including the 45 years of my agriculture career have been spent living and working in the small farming communities of Iowa, Illinois and of course, Minnesota. In fact, the largest community I have ever lived in is where my businesses are currently located, Olivia. All this time, I have not stopped enjoying the rural life, its charm, its peacefulness, its friendliness as well as the feeling of safety. I have found living in a rural community to be far less stressful than what I imagine city life to be. Just like when I was a youngster, I have not wavered in my feeling that there was no place else I would rather be.
My wife, Joanne, and I knew that the choice to live rural meant being deprived of quick access to the many cultural activities metro life can offer, but we felt that it was worth the sacrifice. The gains far outweighed the losses. We raised our kids in rural communities and we feel they have benefited in countless ways.
My research companies have associations in over 25 states, not to mention dozens of countries worldwide, all of which require extensive travel. When I started my two corn research companies many years ago I understood that due to the nature of the business, the companies may likely be better served if they were closer to a major international airport. Again, outweighing the gains to losses, it seemed the better decision was to be less efficient in travel than to give up living in the country.
Joanne and I have a blended family comprised of six children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. About 10 years ago, she and I decided we wanted to live on the lake so we moved 35 minutes away from Olivia and built our dream home.
It’s interesting, but I find the best 35 minutes of my usual work day can be my drive to and from Olivia. I load up my coffee mug and enjoy the beautiful drive through the country, soaking up the landscape of crops, lakes, woods, livestock and wildlife. When I hear that the morning metro traffic report is bumper-to-bumper and that one should expect 35-minute delays, I chuckle because I know that in 35 minutes I will be at my office in Olivia – no delays. Of course, it may take 37 minutes if I hit the red light on the one, and only stop light of my commute.
I think my proudest decision about choosing rural living is how it has passed from generation to generation. Of our six children that I mentioned earlier, five of them live in rural communities. After graduating from college and building careers my two kids returned to Olivia—where they were born and raised—because they wanted to give their children the same opportunities that growing up in a rural community had given them.
Today, they are running successful businesses in Olivia. Between them they have 65 employees, all of whom also live in the rural area. I know this may be unusual but when we continue to hear about how young people are choosing to move away from rural communities and not return, please remember it is not always that way.
I love the country, the small communities, the farming and I am very proud of living rural.
Why do you choose rural? Leave us a comment to share your story!