The Oxford Dictionary defines a dream as “a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal.” Six simple words, yet they hold the potential to ignite innovation, progress and personal growth. It’s the belief in possibilities beyond the realm of the ordinary, the courage to envision the future, and the relentless pursuit of those aspirations. In a world where innovation thrives on bold ideas, embracing the power of dreaming big is not just a luxury but rather a necessity for achieving the extraordinary.

However, it is often the case that youth in rural America do not think their dreams are big enough to become a reality. Rural youth in America often face unique challenges that can hinder their belief in the realization of their dreams. Limited access to resources, including educational experiences, mentorship programs, and employment opportunities, can instill a sense of hopelessness about the feasibility of their dreams. Without the necessary support systems and encouragement to pursue their dreams, rural youth may struggle to dream big.

Summit Browning, a student and proud FFA member in rural Montana, has the big dream to own and operate his own ranch. Actively engaged in the agriculture industry since the age of 12, Summit knew ranching was where his heart belonged but understood, just like every rural teenager, that starting a farm or ranch from scratch would not be an easy feat. However, in the summer of 2022, Summit dreamed up a small business that will help his big dreams become a reality: S Bar B Cowboy Coffee, a whole roasted coffee bean company created by cowboys for the cowboy in all of us.

After trial and error and support from local mentors, Summit crafted his ideal roasted coffee bean to package and sell. Summit is now proud to say that his coffee is in over 40 grocery stores in Montana. If it were not for local leaders and businesses supporting Summit’s dream, his business and dream of a ranch would not be where it is today. Creating this business has not only shown him the power of support from local leaders but also has inspired him to do his part in supporting those who feed the world. Summit is a firm example of believing in others, so they can believe in themselves.

Supporting youth in our local communities is not just an act of generosity; it’s an investment in the future. By nurturing and empowering young people and their dreams, we not only provide them with the tools they need to succeed but also foster a sense of belonging and purpose within our communities. When we mentor, educate, and advocate for youth, we unlock their potential to become tomorrow’s leaders, innovators, and changemakers. By offering opportunities for skill-building, personal development, and positive role models, we create a domino effect that strengthens the fabric of rural America. Every investment in youth is an investment in a brighter, more resilient future for us all; this is a dream we can all play a part in making come true.

Guest author Grant Norfleet is a keynote speaker at this week’s Missouri FFA Convention in Columbia. Norfleet is a former member of the Mexico FFA and past Missouri FFA vice president. He was selected to serve as national secretary during the 96th National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis. He is currently taking on a gap year from the University of Missouri, where he is a senior agricultural education major. The National FFA Organization selects six student members to represent the organization as a national FFA officer each year.