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FFA Student Leaders Urged to Take Charge

The vigor of America's rural communities lies in the hands of its young rural leaders, a top U.S. Department of Agriculture official told National FFA student leaders from across the country meeting in Washington. Read here what Dallas Tonsager, undersecretary for rural development at the USDA, said last week at the annual gathering.

While Tonsager's remarks didn't directly address the plight of rural schools, many of the students at the conference were likely future agricultural education teachers in rural settings. And, the conference's focus on strengthening rural communities goes hand in hand with a recurring theme at rural think tanks, universities and non-profits: The health of rural schools is tied to the economic and cultural health of rural communities and you have to work systemically on both to see improvement in either.

Tonsager challenged students to become "educated advocates, community leaders, willing to take risks and make choices."

Some additional reading on how rural schools' and communities' vibrance are linked:
Rural Learning Center in South Dakota.
Rural Schools Partnership in Missouri.

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