The calendar flipped to August and that means the county fair season is nearing its end and the media is filled with “back-to-school” promotions. Can it already be that time of year particularly in this summer of turbulence?

Throughout the High Plains region summer 2019 has been one for the record books, from late planted spring crops as a result of spring flooding to triple digit temperatures. Add a strong mix of political turmoil compounded by trade wars and readers will be able to say 2019 will not be forgotten.

Perhaps a new school year will usher in a calmer time and one that can help educate and nurture a future crop of leaders.

Several weeks ago our country remembered the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s trip to the moon. Neil Armstrong, the first astronaut to walk on the moon, uttered the phrase “that’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.” A greater service to mankind from the world’s most famous astronaut was that instead of seeking celebrity fame, he chose to return to the college classroom and taught for eight years in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati.

The lesson to be learned is that Armstrong valued the importance of education as he certainly knew that the future for scientific breakthroughs belonged to young, inquisitive minds.

What readers can take from Armstrong’s lesson, with the start of a new school year, is to support the youth and educators who stretch limited dollars to prepare boys and girls and young men and women so they can help find solutions to world’s problems which, at the forefront, is feeding a troubled world. That’s going to take an emphasis on math, science and language and an important dose of vocational courses.

What can you or I do to help them? It starts with meaningful interaction with adolescent and young adult learners. We can—and should—take ourselves out of our comfort zone. When asked to volunteer to help at a debate tournament, art exhibit, FFA land judging event or concession stand at a middle school event our automatic response should not always be, “I don’t have time.” Many volunteers with their most successful experiences will admit they were reluctant at first but found the experience far more rewarding than what they expected.

If we want our future leaders to have an appreciation for our roots we have to invest and nurture them. No one ever said it was easy. Armstrong had it right on his famous phrase and a giant leap for mankind should be our mission. We all do play a part in that legacy by our investment and actions in support of those who are going to grow our crops and raise our livestock while finding the cure for cancer.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-22-1822 or dbergmeier@hpj.com.

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