Members of the Storm Lake's education, business and cultural diversity communities met Monday night with their counterparts from Australia and New Zealand at Chautauqua Park for a short picnic to share ideas on rural development, retaining a community's youth and dealing with the influx of new cultures into communities.
Local community members addressed questions concerning how Storm Lake has dealt with its changing culture and Peter Kenyon and members of his delegation from Australia related their experiences trying to keep young people in their hometowns throughout western Australia.
"Kids - they are the vitality of a community. Investing and retaining the young people of a community in that community will create business enough for all of us," Kenyon said.
Superintendent of Schools Bill Kruse echoed those thoughts. Storm Lake teens are taking courses through Buena Vista University and Iowa Central Community College to become better leaders, he said. When the local population started to diversify, people were asking about how to go backward to the way it once was. "You don't - this is Storm Lake, like it or leave it... and guess what, it worked."
Storm Lake businessman Clark Fort spoke on cultural diversity that both nations are experiencing. "How do you bridge the gap? You make friends," Fort said. "Friends will help you get through the tough times and the mistakes you make due to language and cultural differences, because they know your heart is in the right place."
The Aussies, en route to South Sioux City, Neb., for a three-day 'Nebraska Rural Institute,' represent an association called 'Bank of I.D.E.A.S.', which stands for 'Ideas for Development of Enterprising Action and Strategies.' The group's main focus is helping students and unemployed youth to consider starting a business, which would give them a job and enhance their community.