By Chris Hardie/7 Rivers Alliance CEO

It’s a pretty easy job selling the beauty of the 7 Rivers Region. The bluffs, the coulees, the streams, the rivers, the hills — there are jewels aplenty in the midst of the gem we call home.

But when it comes down to it, the main key to what makes our region successful is not scenic vistas or secluded forests. It comes down to the people — the men and women who live and work here.

I’m pleased to announce that for the sixth straight year, 7 Rivers Alliance is partnering with River Valley Media Group for our Rising Stars under 40 event. We take nominations from all around the region for outstanding young and women who make a difference in their community.

The winners will be selected and recognized in special coverage in River Valley Media Group publications and with videos online, along with receiving their awards at a reception. Last year the reception was held virtually because of the pandemic but our tentative plans are for an in-person event in October. 

“All of us at River Valley Media Group are proud of our partnership with Chris Hardie and the 7 Rivers Alliance, but only more proud of the terrific young people recognized in our Rising Stars program,” said River Valley Media Group Publisher Sean Burke. “These dedicated and talented young people are making a difference every day and represent a bright future for our communities.”

Our past winners represent the diverse workforce in our region — teachers, doctors, nurses, business owners, nonprofit leaders, instructors, public service workers and others whose commitment to their work or community service groups sets the bar for engaged citizenry. These are men and women who are committed to making their communities a better place to live and work. They do it without the spotlight nor do they seek recognition — it’s just part of who they are.

Sometimes people ask why we restrict the nomination to those under 40 when we have older leaders in our region making a difference as well. Because the economic success of our region depends on our future. Our ability to attract young families to our region is critical for our future prosperity. We need more young adults to live and work here and to raise their children here. Showcasing our best and brightest can be a way to attract others. 

Many years ago I was once nominated for a national journalism recognition when I was under 40. My story was published in a national journalism magazine along with 19 others from around the country. I was humbled by the honor and admired the work and effort of my fellow nominees. Their stories made me even more determined to excel as a journalist and community leader.

Rising Stars doesn’t work without nominations. Tell us about your colleague, friend, neighbor or co-worker who is a rising star. You can click on the nomination link below.