Many times, we ignore quality of life issues that are all around us in small towns. Benefits include a calmer lifestyle; schools, churches, and other activities just minutes away; and access to recreational areas that allow for last minute fishing or camping trips. If parents behave as if they must travel long distances for recreation and entertainment, children will grow up believing it. On the other hand, if children are exposed to these rural "amenities" they will quickly come to love and appreciate them.
It is also possible to secretly make some of your trips educational, and rural areas are full of such opportunities. In Eastern Arkansas, for example, one can visit the Louisiana Purchase State Park (near Blackton) where there is a monument marking the spot from which the entire Louisiana Purchase was surveyed. In the fall, a tremendous education in agriculture is all around the Mid-South, as crops are harvested, processed, and prepared for market . . . if you are not a farmer, find one who'll let you and the family watch the show! In West Tennessee, one can visit Reelfoot Lake, a fisherman's and birdwatcher's paradise that also offers insight into the geologic history of the region (Reelfoot was created by the 1811-1812 New Madrid Earthquakes. For more on the Earthquakes, visit the museum at New Madrid, Missouri, and while you are there, get an up close view of Old Man River from the observation platform. Mississippi is not without its history, as well - travel Highway 61 through Clarksdale and the crossroads region to learn about the birthplace of the blues. Northeastern Mississippi, especially around Corinth and Baldwyn, are ripe with Civil War sites, as well. I wonder how many of us are close to these resources but have never spent time there?
In order to preserve and expand our small communities, citizens must actively seek to promote those aspects of their communities that foster a better quality of life.