President’s Message

7L2A8485ret Ted Gerber, President

I watched a movie recently about four small-town kids who go on an adventure. These kids roamed around town, cutting through yards, hiking into the country, sharing secrets, giving each other grief, sticking up for each other. Ultimately, they discover what they were looking for and return home. The experiences they share are unique to rural America. While the movie was set during the late 1950’s, it reminded me a lot of my own childhood, growing up in the little town of Exeland, WI (population 140). 

Watching that movie made me realize how much I love living in a small town, and how sometimes I take it for granted. There are so many things that are unique, like potlucks, big graduation parties, and demo derbies. Or taking walks and running into someone you know. Going to Parent-Teacher conferences and seeing people visiting in the halls like it is a family reunion. Hearing a truck that is a little too loud, and knowing who it belongs to. Having people follow your kids activities through the local paper. Feeling that pride when one of your own hits the national stage.

The closeness of a small town gives you a real sense of security. That security can be shaken sometimes.  When tragedy strikes someone in your town, everyone feels it. It’s like a dark cloud has settled overhead, and you just can’t shake it. Living out here can feel liberating, but also leave you feeling vulnerable. 

It’s at these times when I appreciate small towns the most. We pull in our ranks and take care of our own. The generosity shown, both emotionally and financially, can be overwhelming. We all want to help and we want nothing in return, knowing only that these same people will be there for us when needed.   We love our community as our neighbors, and we know they love us back. That is something we should never take for granted.