JEFF YOST: Youth are changing Nebraska narrative

JEFF YOST: Youth are changing Nebraska narrative Main Photo

30 Sep 2021


The 2020 census is an important tool for understanding population trends and demographic shifts in our Greater Nebraska hometowns, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Articles lamenting the shrinking population of rural areas abound, but we know better.

Nebraska Community Foundation’s Youth Survey is taking a qualitative look at the reasons young Nebraskans choose to remain in, return to, or leave their hometowns. Our work at NCF suggests there’s much to look forward to in Greater Nebraska – and we’ve got the numbers to back it up.

Take just one number from our 2021 Nebraska Youth Survey: 64. That’s the percentage of respondents who said their ideal community is small like their hometown. Of the 1,000 participating Greater Nebraska students, well over half told us their dream communities look a lot like where they live now, a reason to believe our future is bright. When asked whether a stigma accompanied staying in or returning to their community, 76% said no. The old narrative about rural communities is changing and young people in 2021 are telling a very different story from those who came before them.

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