For the Community Service Award, OBP seeks "an individual who exhibits the rural spirit through exceptional service in the name of community growth . . . a willingness to go above and beyond — selflessly donating the time and support in an effort to positively influence their local community," says the website. The 2018 winner, Dustin Row, was recognized for creating a nonprofit called Songs4Soldiers that helps other veterans.
The Next Gen Award is for someone age 21 or under who has "demonstrated uncommon leadership through community service efforts or innovative thinking throughout their rural community," says the website. The 2018 winners were the Future Farmers of America Chapter at Normal Community High School in Normal, Ill. Concerned about dairy farmers' struggles with low milk prices, the teens started a nationwide social-media challenge that resulted in 3,000 gallons of milk being donated to homeless shelters and food banks, and raised awareness about the dairy industry.
The Rural Advocacy Award, new this year, is for "an individual who proudly embodies the heart of rural America," the website says. "Any potential Rural Advocacy Award recipient should be an integral part of their community — working hard to spur economic development, create jobs and advocate for growth." This category essentially replaces the Economic Development award from last year. The 2018 winner in that category, Brent Comstock, founded his own digital marketing company at age 12. He leveraged BCom Solutions' success to develop the Rural Impact Hub, a site that fosters rural entrepreneurship.
Nominations will be accepted here through Oct. 2. Winners will be announced and recognized at an awards celebration in November in St. Louis.