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Growing The Next Generation: Fostering An Appreciation For Rural And Urban Lifestyles

Lucy Enge and Kayla Wise
Renee Wilde
Wilmington College students Kayla Wise and Lucy Enge come from very different backgrounds.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, County Lines producer Renee Wilde met with faculty and students at Wilmington College in Clinton County and heard their ideas about rural life and the prospects for a career in agriculture.

Wilmington College students Kayla Wise and Lucy Enge come from very different backgrounds. Kayla grew up in a remote farming community in Ohio, and Lucy comes from the suburbs and has lived in different areas of the U.S. Lucy hopes to live in a rural area sometime in the future, and in their interview, Kayla asks Lucy about ways to counter the negative image the media has projected about rural citizens.


KAYLA WISE: Hello, this is Kayla Wise and I’m interviewing Lucy Enge, one of my fellow students at Wilmington College.

LUCY ENGEE: I’ve always said my retirement plan is to farm. 

I’ve had great neighbors when I’ve lived in more suburban and urban neighborhoods, but I think the culture of rural areas requires that sense of community.

I’m hoping to go to Japan this summer to the Asian Rural Institute, which, it’s a place that trains farmers, farmer community leaders from the Pacific, all over Asia and Africa and encourages them to use tools that they would have around them, and resources they would have, to do sustainable farming in their communities.

WISE: How can we change the world where we are at, when looking at the world’s problems it seems too big for just one person to tackle.

ENGEE: Everyone’s actions make a difference. ‘Cause Clinton County was really devastated when DHL left, I think it was 2007, 2008.

The community was basically completely devastated, and people worked together and they started a community garden that helped feed hungry, and they started a farmers market, and churches came together and had food pantries, and provided utility assistance.

And slowly those people uplifted other people, and eventually the community is starting to recover and we’re seeing smaller businesses, and I think more economic growth, and it’s exciting to see this new phase for Clinton County.

WISE: What would you say to someone seeing the rural side, and only hears the bad stuff that is said on the news.

How would you describe the value or the benefits of a rural community?

ENGEE: There’s a disconnect, as we were saying earlier, between urban and rural areas and the suburbia that connects them.

There’s invisible walls.

And I think it goes back to understanding - we all have something to give to society, and that we all are equal.

We’re all different - but we are all equal.

And I think integrating some of those aspects in an urban environment, and teaching that in our schools, fostering that sense of understanding, and empowering people with that knowledge, I think, would really go a long way in sort of debunking the myths of rural communities, and helping strengthen the connections between urban and rural, especially politically, because that’s become a great divide.

We need to be unifying ourselves as Americans across the board, no matter what kind of area we live in.

And I think it starts with wanting to understand and going to those places and experiencing that, and fostering an appreciation for the different kinds of lifestyles Americans lead.

County Lines is WYSO's series on rural life, made possible by a grant from Ohio Humanities. This story was created at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.

Renee Wilde was part of the 2013 Community Voices class, allowing her to combine a passion for storytelling and love of public radio. She started out as a volunteer at the radio station, creating the weekly WYSO Community Calendar and co-producing Women’s Voices from the Dayton Correctional Institution - winner of the 2017 PRINDI award for best long-form documentary. She also had the top two highest ranked stories on the WYSO website in one year with Why So Curious features. Renee produced WYSO’s series County Lines which takes listeners down back roads and into small towns throughout southwestern Ohio, and created Agraria’s Grounded Hope podcast exploring the past, present and future of agriculture in Ohio through a regenerative lens. Her stories have been featured on NPR, Harvest Public Media and Indiana Public Radio.