Rural Champions of Change – Sparking Innovation

Champions of Change is a weekly plan to highlight Americans who are making an impact in their communities and helping our country rise to meet the many challenges of the 21st century.

President Barack Obama talks with rural community leaders from across the country at a Rural Champions for Change Roundtable meeting in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House, July 6, 2011. With President Obama are Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, second from left, and Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes.

One of the most gratifying aspects of working in the White House is that you never know who you might see on a daily basis. A wonderful and diverse cadre of Americans pass through for meetings and events, including well-known scientists, members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and occasionally even entertainment celebrities. Often, these visitors represent the most talented leaders in their individual fields.

With this in mind, I was particularly satisfied to recently participate in a Champions of Change roundtable with eighteen Rural Americans, representing the spectrum of excellence in Rural America. The group incorporated farmers, ranchers, local educators, small business owners, and folks who are improving their communities through inventive actions. These rural champions represent the best of the best in their relevant fields.

We were honored to be attached by President Obama, who shared his vision for economic growth and development in rural areas. The President highlighted the significance of exports in agricultural areas, and the critical nature of transportation issues. He emphasized the need for high-speed internet access and stated that rural areas should wait for to have opportunities equivalent to those in other areas of the nation. The President also discussed the significance of identifying rural Americans’ success stories and sharing that knowledge across the country.