College life means lots of projects and presentations as I mentioned on Day 10. Last week, I finally finished one of these bigger projects. I wrote a paper and did a presentation on the problems found in small town America and why many rural communities seem to be depleting and dying.
This thought is heart breaking to me and should be to the rest of the nation as well as it is taking place primarily in the Midwest, America’s heartland.
If you are like me, you see small town, rural life as a huge blessing and tend to overlook some of the problems that can come with it. However, my professor challenged us to look at problems within a place, so that’s what I did. In my paper and presentation, I analyzed issues such as underage drinking, drug use, and poor education systems. I also looked into concepts like the “rural brain drain” or the exodus of young, bright students from rural areas and the economic difficulties small towns face. However, I also highlighted the importance of rural America in our society.
This topic was incredibly interesting and obviously hit very close to home for me. As part of my research, I created a survey and sent it to my friends and family that grew up in small towns. My goal was to look at the struggles of many small towns and see what other people’s perceptions of these issues are. Here are some of the questions I asked and answers I received from the survey:
The issue I especially focused on was rural education, or the rural brain drain. This is the exodus of young people from rural America. Some of the other research I did suggested that students that get out of their small town and go to college often don’t return. However, my survey contradicts this idea. I asked what people are doing now, giving suggestions like working or going to college or community college. The responses I got on this question were again impacted by specific people I directed the survey too. Many of the people that answered my survey were my sorority sisters that are obviously in college. However, the encouraging part about this was the high percentage that said they would consider moving back to their hometown and the fact that a majority of those people are getting their college education, which directly contradicts the brain drain theory.
Overall, while the sample size of my survey may have been small and not in line with the majority of the rural population, it did give me hope. Creating this survey brought this already personal topic even closer to home for me. Most importantly, it gave me hope that there are college students that want to get their education and then return to their hometown.
I love my hometown and I know that most of my friends and family from rural America feel the same way. The ideas of the rural brain drain and rural decline are very sad and scary to me. However, it is these college students that want to return to their hometowns that can end the rural brain drain and improve the already wonderful life we can experience in rural America.
If you want to know more about my research on this topic, check out my entire Paper.
Don’t forget to read the other 30-Day Farm Blogs.