With both my parents as teachers, the drumbeat for college started early. College was the endgame. But I remember high school graduation came and I thought, what if this isn’t it? Then four years later I graduated from college and thought, “Now what?” My passion was undiscovered and my unique calling was left unanswered. I didn’t know what I wanted to do because I didn’t know what I loved.

This is the struggle of many GenDIY students who experience the reality that it’s difficult to know what to do if you don’t know what makes you happy. They face this question because of  the lack of role models and examples of what’s worked for them, advisory, and relevant support.

Buck the Quo, a campaign that’s barnstorming local communities in Idaho, is helping teens answer these tough questions.

Powering Buck the Quo are change makers from The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation (JKAF). The campaign includes a YouTube series where real people talk about real life after high school. The series unpacks stories of Idahoans—who through their own unique way learned what they loved, how they matched it to their personal strengths, and the ways they turned their passions into a career that’s fulfilling and sustaining. The mantra:

I am entitled to the future I want.
I can choose my path.
I will buck the quo.

JKAF traveled to five different locations in Idaho, primarily fairs and rodeos, to talk with young people about their passions and their options after high school. Taking a cue from retail marketing campaigns, they traveled with a repurposed shipping container. Prior to the arrival of the container, they launched a guerilla marketing campaign that included posters, sidewalk chalk and bright yellow deer decoys that appeared unannounced in communities throughout the Gem State. Idahoans didn’t know what was going on. It stirred buzz and a created curiosity that was answered when people arrived at local fairs.  

At the entrance of the Buck The Quo experience space, fair goers were met with a sign that read “Only 15-18 year olds allowed.” They talked with teens only, not counselors, not adults, not even parents, because the campaign is about the teens, their passions and how they can turn their passions into a life they want to live.

In the space, young people talked about what kind of lives they want, not what they want to be. Teens write a note to their future self that is sent back to them to remind them to be real with themselves and to keep working towards their dreams and passions.

While at the 24 Hour Think Challenge, we asked Nick Groff, Communications Specialist at JKAF, “what is the most influential and impactful experience that students need?” His answer:

So, how exactly do you get started on living your dream? There are many different ways to begin. In the Dreams Don’t Die episode, they provide five practical tips that include:

  1. Believe in yourself and believe in your dream.
  2. Be willing to work hard for your dream.
  3. Be resilient when things aren’t going so well.
  4. Be genuinely thankful and grateful for all the awesome things you have in your life already.
  5. Treat people well.

How did you find your own unique passion? What were the steps you took? What worked for you? Comment below and Tweet us, @Getting_Smart.

About “GenDIY”
Young people are taking control of their own pathway to careers, college and contribution. Powered by digital learning, “GenDIY” is combatting unemployment and the rising costs of earning a degree by seeking alternative pathways to find or create jobs they love. Follow their stories here and on Twitter at #GenDIY. For more, check out:


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