Rural Caucus participants work as a team to layout their ideal small town.

[imgcontainer] [img:FUJI5523.jpg] [source]All photos by Shawn Poynter[/source] Rural Caucus participants work as a team to layout their ideal small town. [/imgcontainer]

For the past three years I’ve spent a couple winter days huddled in the basement of an Arlington, Virginia, hotel taking pictures of rural young people from across the country as they learn how to lead.

I’m headed back to the YouthBuild USA National Rural Youth Caucus this weekend. I'm hoping you’ll follow our adventures.

We’ll be pushing out stories, photos, tweets, Facebook posts and whatever our two-person media team can produce as the Rural Caucus starts Sunday, March 8, and continues through Monday. On Monday night, Rural Caucus participants join the entire the YouthBuild Conference of Young Leaders. That larger meeting continues through Thursday, March 12, when participants spend a day on Capitol Hill meeting with their local representatives.

[imgcontainer right] [img:FUJI5877.jpg] Sight-seeing in the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. [/imgcontainer]

YouthBuild provides a route for “low-income, out-of-work, out-of-school young people ages 16 to 24” to learn hands-on construction skills as they acquire skills to pass their GED.

The Rural Caucus is a transformative experience, for me at least. The young people who attend come from vastly different parts of rural America – from the Piedmont of North Carolina to forests of the Pacific Northwest. Though their hometowns and individual identities are unique, they share a common sense of what it means to grow up and live in rural communities.

For many of the participants, this will be one of their first extended visits to a major metropolitan area. They will share new experiences like riding the Metro, dining in Chinatown, seeing the White House at night, and ogling the Hope Diamond. They will also share an intense leadership training experience that tends to turn former strangers into friends very quickly. It’s a powerful transformation to behold. And it’s built on the young people's shared experiences, both the ones they bring from home and the new ones they discover together in Washington, D.C.

That’s why I love YouthBuild and the Rural Caucus. Great distances get crossed in such a short time.

So please check back here on the Yonder, on our Facebook page, and follow us on Twitter (or #COYL2015, if you’re into that sort of thing) as we tell the story of the young folks at the 2015 Rural Caucus.

[imgcontainer] [img:FUJI6660.jpg] A group of 2014 Rural Caucus participants spoke to a delegation at the FCC about the state of rural broadband. [/imgcontainer]

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.