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Source: OBP news release

From canceled county fairs to dwindling foot traffic and income loss for rural businesses due to the rising cases of COVID-19, communities are facing unique challenges. However, there are countless heroes who are tirelessly volunteering, serving and giving back.

OBP is on a mission to recognize those unsung heroes of rural America who are instilling hope, solving problems and committing to stepping up to meet the needs of their communities during these unprecedented times.

Through OBP's Noble Pursuits initiative, the team has supported numerous efforts to help make things better and help inspire what's possible. The Rural Spirit Awards are part of this initiative, and nominations are now being accepted for this third-annual celebration of people who support and improve rural America through community service and economic development.

Three total award winners will be chosen across three categories:

1. The Community Service Award category honors an individual who exhibits the rural spirit through exceptional service in the name of community growth. Any potential Community Service Award recipient demonstrates a willingness to go above and beyond by selflessly donate their time to support efforts that positively influence their local community.

2. The Next Gen Award category recognizes an individual from an up-and-coming generation (21 years of age or under). Any potential Next Gen Award recipient demonstrates uncommon leadership through community service efforts or innovative thinking throughout their rural community.

3. The Rural Advocacy Award category celebrates an individual who proudly embodies the heart of rural America. Any potential Rural Advocacy Award recipient is an integral part of their community - working hard to spur economic development, create jobs and advocate for growth.

Nominations can be made by the public at The nomination period closes September 10th at 11:59 p.m. (CDT).

"We believe in the noble pursuit of possibility, and the Rural Spirit Awards are one way we can help inspire hope," said Rhonda Ries, President of OBP. "The need for community support across America is more important than ever, and we are thrilled for the opportunity to celebrate people making a difference."

Rural Spirit Award winners will receive $2,000 each to donate to a non-profit organization of their choice--with donations made in the winners' names. All winners will be announced and recognized during a virtual awards celebration Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020.

"Being a recipient of the Rural Spirit Award gave me the opportunity to make a difference in my rural community and that's special to me," said Bryan Kasten, 2019 Next Gen Award Winner. "It only takes one person to make a difference and I want to encourage leaders, educators and everyday influencers to nominate someone in their community."

Additional details and official rules can be found at

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