Living in a rural community has its advantages.

A small-town atmosphere, limited traffic, a place where folks wave to one another when they drive down the highway.

But the greatest thing about rural living is the support that pours out when one of their own is in need. 

Folks lend a hand. They also pray. 

I've covered these stories countless times, and I am always moved by the the outpouring of love and compassion. But it affected me even more when I saw how it was working in my own community. 

I grew up in a school district made up of a handful of rural towns that once were bitter rivals on the basketball court. However, in the 1960s, school consolidation occurred across the state, and the towns of Gypsum, Assaria, Kipp and a few others merged to form Southeast of Saline and build a school in a pasture in the middle of the district.

But if anyone needed proof that those old battle lines were long gone, they got it last year when this region of Saline County bonded in prayer and support for one of their own.

In farm communities like this, what happens after an accident is almost automatic: Neighbors pitch in with chores, they put together fundraisers and, of course, they pray. So, when young Assaria farmer Zach Short was critically injured in a farming accident a year ago, the entire community stepped up to the plate for Zach and his wife, Jodi, and their young daughter. 

The fall issue of Agland examines how Short and his family came through a horrific trial with the love, support and prayers of an extended community.

My classmate Justin Knopf, who farms near Gypsum, said it was moving to witness how the community came together.

"It casts a vision of hope, of neighborly support - a really good vision of what it means to be a community," Justin told me. 

Kansas Agland Editor Amy Bickel's agriculture roots started in Gypsum. She has been covering Kansas agriculture for more than 15 years. Email her with news, photos and other information at abickel@hutchnews.com or by calling (800) 766-3311 Ext. 320.

Kansas Agland Editor Amy Bickel's agriculture roots started in Gypsum. She has been covering Kansas agriculture for more than 15 years. Email her with news, photos and other information at abickel@hutchnews.com or by calling (800) 766-3311 Ext. 320.

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