I’m Not Stuck in a Small Town. I Chose It.

One of my former students recently shared an article and said something about being thankful to not be “stuck” in a small town. So this is my rebuttal, because let’s face it, I’m not exactly a quiet person. And bagging on my small town life? Now it’s personal.

What I want to say is this…

You’re kidding me right? You think we’re stuck? Oh, honey. Life is what you make it. I’m not stuck in a small town; I chose it.

Choosing to come back to our simple hometown life after college was, by far, the best decision we have ever made. And you know what? We’re not alone. So are you going to tell me that those who choose to leave and head to the bigger city are better than the thousands of us whom have chosen to raise our families in a small town?

When we came back, we began a family business that has contributed to our small town economy for over 10 years. We are business owners and we are as successful as we want to be. Do we have loads of cash? No. But we have a roof and food. We have enough.

So if you’re too good for this small town life, there’s a lot you’re too good for. Here’s a little list for you…

  1. You’re too good for the teachers who stayed in that small town you grew up in in order to help you further your education and go for your dreams.
  2. You’re too good for your own family. You know…those people who raised you, fed you, and picked you up every time you fell in that small town.
  3. You’re too good for the job your mother and/or father had, the job that provided for you to be able to get “unstuck.”
  4. You’re too good for the cooks who fed you, the librarian who provided enriching activities, the guidance counselor who led you, and the principal who disciplined you when you were showing your disrespectful attitude.
  5. You’re too good for the doctors who saw you through every sniffle and hospital stay.
  6. You’re too good for the nurses who comforted you and knew you by name when they saw you in the grocery store.
  7. You’re too good for the secretaries, teachers, and role models who made sure you were where you were supposed to be and not where you wanted to be.
  8. You’re too good for unlocked doors and friendly highway waves.
  9. You’re too good for cruising with your friends on country roads until all hours of the night.
  10. You’re too good for the fundraisers your hometown puts on for every person ever suffering from anything.
  11. You’re too good for playing until the street lights come on without fear.
  12. You’re too good for those people who run the swimming pool every summer and somehow manage to babysit half the town every day.
  13. You’re too good for the volunteer firefighters and EMTs who saved your friend or family member.
  14. You’re too good for raising your family with the help of 3,000 others.
  15. You’re too good for Friday night lights and prom parties, for your coaches and teammates, and for your memories.
  16. You’re too good for the mechanic who fixes your car, the vet who takes care of your dog, the convenience store clerk who knows you by name, and the pastor who prays for you.
  17. You’re too good for the radio stations you jammed out to while you dreamed of a different life.
  18. You’re too good for the safe and comfortable home you grew up in and for the volunteers who saw you through every youth event you were ever a part of.
  19. You’re too good for the farmers who grew the food you eat every day.
  20. You’re too good for me and all of your friends who want to raise their families in a small town.

So go for your dreams, but remember all these people are living their dreams, too. We chose small town life. It doesn’t mean we’re stuck; it means we chose differently than you. You’re not wrong for wanting to leave, but don’t assume we’re wrong for wanting to stay.

Life is what you make it.


Like Jeremy and Bailey Koch: Anchoring Hope for Mental Health on Facebook




The Little Town That Could

You know what I mean if you’re from a small town. You’re used to it – the laughs, the snickers from those “city-folk” who seem to think they have it all figured out. But there are just some things that they can’t understand – and won’t unless they become a part of a small community, just another name for a really big family.

I’m from small town Nebraska. And I couldn’t be more proud.

2015-02-04 13.56.54

So where exactly am I from?

I’m from sledding down the overpass with the entire community after a snowfall.

I’m from vegetable soup brought over by friends the minute they hear you’re sick.

I’m from community fundraisers for anyone struggling with anything when the entire town comes out together in support.

I’m from sharing the reality with the world that your husband has attempted suicide five times and being terrified of what people think – except for the 4,000 or so you know will have your back. (read more of our story at www.jeremyandbailey.com)

I’m from a Facebook post about your lost dog that soon goes “Dawson County viral” because nobody wants your little boy to be sad for a minute longer about the fact that he can’t find his puppy.

I’m from quick grocery store trips that turn into hours because you found 40 or so people you just had to catch up with.

I’m from gravel roads and wood-burning stoves.

2015-11-29 19.14.53.jpg

I’m from one stoplight (or none…I lost count).

I’m from one of the only video rental stores left in the state.

I’m from small-town businesses that consist of a greenhouse and nursery in the spring and summer and turn into a paint-your-own pottery and canvas art studio in the winter just to give families and friends something else to do.

I’m from sledding behind a four-wheeler.

2015-12-24 09.51.52.jpg

I’m from driving around for hours drinking hot chocolate while looking at Christmas lights of your “neighbors” miles around.

I’m from holiday home tours and Mario Kart competitions.

I’m from every weekend at the lake in the summer (and often after work during the week too).

2015-07-03 18.19.56.jpg

I’m from where people say “smells like money” when we take a whiff of the nearest feedlot.

I’m from Nebraska beef (enough said).

I’m from husbands and wives working together to run their family businesses.

I’m from gourd and pumpkin launching in cornfields.

2015-10-18 13.14.34.jpg

I’m from chili and cinnamon rolls.

I’m from Runza.

I’m from Jesus.

I’m from asking for prayers and feeling the results.

I’m from volunteer fire and rescue teams.


I’m from life flights and town sirens that cause the community to all stop and pray (and I’m from the people who know what it feels like to need those prayers).


Jeremy’s truck after the accident in 2012. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, to the Cozad Fire and Rescue team and to all doctors, nurses, ambulance, and flight staff.

I’m from angel trees and selflessness.

I’m from support groups and church families.

I’m from teaching the family business.2015-11-10 11.42.12

I’m from vacations to the big city that result in desperately just wanting to go home.

I’m from following tractors and cattle drives – and strongly preferring it to following bumper-to-bumper traffic.

I’m from high school sweethearts.

Teen Love

Jeremy and I had been dating for a little over a month in this picture…I was 16 (junior in high school) and he was 18 (senior). 🙂

I’m from knowing all the names and families of the custodians, mail persons, mechanics, etc. who take such good care of my family and friends.

I’m from in-home daycare providers who become family because they love your kids as much as you do.

I’m from 8-man football. (Go Eustis-Farnam Knights!)

I’m from Friday night lights and pee-wee flag football.

2015-09-25 18.44.59.jpg


I’m from small-town fairs and church lawn gatherings.

I’m from bonfires and booze cruises (Disclaimer – the rule is drivers don’t drink in case you’re not from here.)

I’m from rescuing every pet you have ever found in the lake, on the side of the road, or in the shed.

I’m from community art & music events that bring out the entire town in support.

2016-01-19 20.50.17.jpg

I’m from grandma and grandpa just down the road.

I’m from “It takes a village to raise a child.”

I’m from hay bales and highways.

2015-09-27 19.45.16.jpg

I’m from a phone call from the neighbor telling you they saw your child act like an asshole and they know you’ll want to “take care of it.”

I’m from climbing the roof to see the storm.

Setting Sun

The sun still beams through storms over Cozad, Nebraska in June of 2014.

I’m from friends in low places.

I’m from hunting and fishing.

I’m from cream cheese pickle rolls.

I’m from family game night.

I’m from small town Nebraska, and I’m me because of it. I would never raise my boys anywhere else.

2015-12-24 12.31.05.jpg

I’m from the little town that could…you know, that town nobody understands unless they live here, that town so many believed would “go under” so many times, that town that continues to be the best place in the world to live. Yeah…that town.

Follow our story:



Like Jeremy & Bailey Koch on Facebook