Change is one constant in the history of successful rural economic development. The FRS website will help you respond and adjust to meet your community needs whether you are in the midst of good or bad economic times. We owe it to our youth and our rural communities to participate in economic development.”
Dana Baker
- GVNW Consulting

Youth Tour 2015 Day 3

2015Youth Tour pic 2


Bethany Miller (Sponsored by Green Hills)

Norborne, Missouri

 This morning we started with an educational session with the NTCA staff. They spoke about telecommunications and broadband in rural America. We stopped at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center to eat and look through some of the gift shops. We got into our groups and traveled to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial which has a beautiful statue overlooking the water. We walked around the water to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. We took lots of pictures with the different statues and memorials. Afterwards we headed to Mount Vernon where we were free to tour the grounds. Mount Vernon was my favorite part of today because all the grounds were gorgeous. We had a chance to walk through both gardens, Washington’s tomb, and a guided tour through his house. It gave me goose bumps when they talked about the chair where George Washington made most of his decisions as president. We boarded the bus and traveled back to D.C. for a Nationals game. Once we got to the stadium, however, it started pouring on us, and the game was cancelled briefly after we finished supper at the stadium. Today was a fun day full of history, memorials, heat, and thunderstorms.


De’Marcus Moore (sponsored by West Carolina Telephone)

Clarks Hill, SC

Today was a very exciting day, starting from dressing up to go to the NTCA staff educational session to the cancelling of the baseball game because of rain. I can honestly say being hungry is never an issue when you’re with FRS, you’re truly taken care of. I love the friendly environment, and family oriented atmosphere. It’s going to be truly sad to go our separate ways on Wednesday, but this is not the end of FRS Youth 2K15. We will soon unite and see each other again one day. De’Marcus Moore signing out. Good Night bloggers.

Youth Tour 2015 Day 2

Ben Coots (Sponsored by Farmers Telecommunications)

Rainsville, AL

Where I’m from is a very small town compared to DC. Temperature wise right now it’s still the same – hot.  Everything here is way more crowded.  Where I’m from things are spaced out, out in the country. Today I woke up at 8 am, had breakfast – pancakes, because I didn’t like any of the other stuff.  Then we went to Arlington National Cemetery and witnessed the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. That was a very touching ceremony that showed how much respect they had for all the service people we didn’t know that were lost in war.  After that we went to the Holocaust Museum, Museum of American History, Museum of Natural History – saw the Hope diamond, which was pretty cool – the Air and Space Museum, and I went up the Washington Monument.  After that we went to eat in Union Station, where I had spaghetti, then we started our night tour of the memorials.  Our first stop was the White House, where we took a quick group selfie and then we headed to the WWII memorial which is dedicated to the 400,000 soldiers lost.  Then we went to the Lincoln memorial, and I teared up.  If you look at Lincoln, he’s looking straight out at everything in a perfect line, and it shows everything he fought for when he was President that he didn’t get to see while he was alive…and standing there where MLK stood when he gave his I Have a Dream speech just represents all the hardships our country has been through and how we have overcome and become who we are now. 


Sardana Coyle (Sponsored by Hardy Telecommunications)

Mathias, WV

The second day of the FRS Youth Tour was really awesome.  I expected this week to fly by, but today, I felt like I was on my last day of the trip; usually when I go on long field trips, the last day is the most fun one for me.  I enjoyed experiencing the rich history Arlington and Washington D.C. have to offer.

The first part of our tour today was the Arlington National Cemetery, created out of Robert E. Lee’s old plantation property.  We rode buses past hills and fields full of numerous graves, some lined in an orderly fashion, to the top of the highest hill-home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  We were lucky enough to arrive about fifteen minutes early instead of twenty-nine minutes early.  After killing some time, our crowd became really quiet and turned our attention to the general coming in to commence the honorable ceremony of the Changing of the Guard.  It was really cool to see this ceremony; I have something to brag about to my father who served in the army as a Green Beret. 

After riding through Arlington National Cemetery, we wandered in groups throughout the many “branches” of the Smithsonian.  I gathered a group of really good friends I made on my first day, and we walked through the many halls and rooms of the Air and Space Museum, National History Museum, and the West Art Gallery.  I found the art genres described in the Art Gallery particularly interesting; I think I now understand my art teacher’s presentations a lot better.  A really cool thing that my friends and I did was actually going inside the Washington Monument.  Of all the times I’ve gone to D.C., I’ve been outside of the Monument, but never inside it.  It was kind of scary knowing we were hundreds of feet above ground level, but the view was breathtaking.  I could see Virginia and Maryland from the top of the Monument.

To conclude our tour for the day, we stood in front of the White House and toured the Lincoln Memorial along with the main war memorials- Vietnam, Korean, and World War II.  At the World War II Memorial, I became really excited when I saw a stone labeled “West Virginia” with a wreath hung above it.  Today, I enjoyed walking to burn off whatever Calories I picked up from eating ice cream in the hot weather as well as the historical significance of these landmarks and the interesting information the tour guides told us.

My two most favorite things about today are learning more about American history by touring landmarks and talking and making friends with students from other rural areas.  I look forward to another exciting adventure tomorrow-learning about the telecommunications business.



Youth Tour 2015 Blog Day 1

Youth Tour Pic 1
Today, the FRS staff excitedly welcomed 109 students, from all over rural America, for our annual Youth Tour of Washington, D.C. Every day for the next 5 days, we will feature guest blogs from our students, who will give first hand accounts of their experiences on this trip. We are looking forward to a fantastic week, in our nation's capital, with these outstanding young people!


Elijah Whiting (sponsored by Farmers Mutual Telephone Co, Idaho)

"The first day of the FRS Tour was fun, the plane ride was my first ever and it was amazing. I had fun playing the orientation games, and I have already made a few friends, the first day has definitely lived up to expectations and I look forward to the continuing days."


Katelyn Lee (sponsored by Nex-Tech, Kansas)

"I have made more new friends today in the last five hours than I have in the past year. I love hearing everyone’s different accents and how they live compared to me. It’s crazy how we can be from all across the country and have our differences, yet still have many similarities. I am ecstatic to get to visit DC in the next few days!"

2014 FRS Grant Winners

There are some wonderful perks in this job and one of the best is that we get to make someone's day when we give out grants and scholarships. This year, we had some outstanding applicants for our annual grant program and we saw an interesting trend towards education technology requests. We are thrilled to award funds to schools, libraries, and communities that are encouraging innovation and higher learning in rural America. Our 2014 winners included a mobile arts center that expands arts education to ten different rural communities, a GED program that is adding computer learning and literacy components to its curriculum, a workforce alliance that is increasing long-distance learning in order to expand professional training, and two libraries that are adding new technology components to their early learning programs. All of these programs align with the FRS mission and touch a large number of people in their community by improving education, economic development, and quality of life. We are looking forward to making this program even more robust in 2015! 

FRS & FRED Merger

FRED and FRS logos

As some of you may have already heard, our Foundation has had a pretty big week! I was in Savannah last weekend for the NTCA Southeast Regional Conference and, in addition to our two fundraising events, we were able to hold a special meeting with our Board leadership.  The result of that meeting was that the Foundation for Rural Service has signed a Memorandum of Understanding indicating its intent to merge with the Foundation for Rural Economic Development (FRED), the foundation formerly associated with OPASTCO. After the signing of definitive documents between FRS and FRED, this merged organization will become active on January 1, 2015.

The combined FRS and FRED will retain the very best qualities of both Foundations and will fulfill the mission of both organizations to serve the needs or rural Americans. More information on this merger is forthcoming but we are excited what this means for NTCA members and their communities – expanded resources and a unified approach to providing even more outstanding programs, events, and services. We know that we can continue to make a lasting impact on rural communities and we strive to offer innovative, constructive, and positive solutions to the issues your communities face every day.

On a more personal note, I had the opportunity to visit our old family farm in Green Pond, South Carolina, on my way down to the conference. As I traveled down a very, very long dirt road to the property that gave me so many wonderful childhood memories, it was a tangible reminder of why I love the work that I do and why it is so importnat to preserve a rural way of life for this country. I am thrilled that this merger will allow us to do even more for rural America and I look forward to working with the FRED leadership team to finalize all of the details, in the coming months.