There is concern across Wisconsin and the nation that young people are leaving rural areas and small towns for more urban areas. This research explored whether there may be exceptions to those trends—smaller and more rural places that were gaining and maintaining young adults.

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Research Team

The research team for this project included a variety of talent. The principal investigator for this project is an expert on community studies, and the co-principal investigator is an expert on demographic studies. We received funding from a United States Department of Agriculture Hatch Grant that supported two graduate student research assistant positions. In the first year it supported one research assistant doing demographic research and another doing qualitative research. That year we also were able to add support from a State of Wisconsin research assistantship that funded one other research assistant to expand the demographic research to urban as well as rural areas. The demographic research assistants received professional and technical support from the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Applied Population Laboratory.

The second year of the project we had two qualitative research assistants that focused on conducting twelve community case studies. They were joined by a University of Wisconsin Extension educator for three of the case studies, and by a third graduate student for two case studies. The entire project was overseen by the Engaging Young People to Sustain Communities, Families, and Farms team of the University of Wisconsin Extension. All of those directly involved in the research project are listed on the title page.

Thank You

We are very grateful to the 210 residents across the state who gave of their time to tell us about their communities, and we hope this research honors what they told us. We are also grateful to University of Wisconsin Extension educators who helped guide this research, identify and choose case study communities, form core groups, and recommend research participants. We thank our core group participants in each of our 12 case study communities who helped guide the research, comment on the findings, and recommend research participants. And we extend our appreciation to Caitlin Bourbeau and Casey Kalman for the web design.

This research was supported by United Stated Department of Agriculture Hatch grant Hatch-WIS01872, and a State of Wisconsin State RAship.