map showing location of Hayward Municipality City of Hayward
County Sawyer
Year Incorporated 1883 (not 100%?)
Population and Growth
Population (2014 if available, otherwise 2010, indicate) 2,318 (2010)
WI Workforce Development Region 7
Young Adult Gaining Measure 7% (WI median is -22%)
Young Adult Maintaining Measure 25% (WI Median is 24%)
Social/Demographic Data
Racial stats, 2010 Census 83.3% White (Non-Hispanic and Hispanic)
2.5% White (Hispanic)
0.4% African American
11.8% American Indian and Alaska Native
0.9% Asian
0.3% Other
3.2% Two or More Races
Mean Income $42,855 (2015)
Median Income $30,074 (2015)
Year of Latest Comprehensive Development Plan 2010
Year and Amount of Last Referendum Passed (1998) $16.5 million
Notes Hayward is served by the Hayward Community School District.
Type Name Grades Served Private/Public
Elementary-High Hayward Center for Individualized Learning Virtual Charter K-12 Public Charter
Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Immersion School PreK-7 Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Public Charter
Hayward Elementary School K-5 Public
Middle Hayward Center for Individualized Learning Virtual Charter K-12 Public Charter
Northern Waters Environmental School 6-12 Public
Hayward Middle School 6-8 Public
High Hayward Center for Individualized Learning Virtual Charter K-12 Public Charter
Northern Waters Environmental School 6-12 Public
Hayward High School 9-12 Public

Conducting the Case Study in Hayward

Hayward was the fifth case study that our team initiated. We had not yet studied a municipality so far from Madison. We wanted to conduct most of the case study interviews in person. To accommodate this distance, one researcher spent several days visiting Hayward and conducting interviews, in March of 2017. Within a week, she conducted twenty interviews with folks who worked, lived, or spent significant time in Hayward.

  1. Connect to University of Wisconsin-Extension:

    We reached out to UW-Extension in Sawyer County, requesting recommendations for community leaders who might be interested in our project. One team member established this relationship, and a month later, in February 2017, another researcher took over running the Hayward study.

  2. Connect to Hayward Leaders:

    Ariga Grigoryan of UW-Extension recommended we reach out to local education, business, and community leaders along with another Extension official.

    Ms. Grigorian suggested that we simply call folks before beginning the project, as to save a trip up to Hayward. So instead Amanda held an individual phone conversation with each person, and asked them the following questions.

    • How is this project relevant to Hayward, and to your role in Hayward?
    • What questions should we include in our interviews?
    • Who should we invite to interviews?

    Part of the core group's interest in the study was that they were eager to learn how to build upon a leadership training they led earlier that winter.

  3. Develop Interview Guide and Contact List:

    Amanda reviewed our bank of approved questions with each core member. They each shared which questions and topics they would want to see on the interview guide. Amanda incorporated their feedback into a final draft, which they each approved.

    Each core member provided a set of names, numbers, and businesses, which Amanda used to recruit interviewees. Core group members ensured the success of the study by sharing a list of nearly fifty contacts, and passing along information about the study to Chamber of Commerce members. In the space of a week, Amanda scheduled over twenty interviews.

  4. Conduct Interviews:

    Amanda interviewed twenty people who she reached through the suggestions of each core group member.

  5. Present and Revise Report:

    Amanda and Elisa analyzed and summarized the results of the interviews. Amanda presented the results to the core group, and revised the report based on their recommendations.

Hayward Interview Guide
  1. How old are you?
  2. How long have you lived here?
  3. Why did you move here?
  4. Do you rent or own your home?
  5. Do members of your extended family live in this community or in a nearby community?
Young Adults on the Move
  1. What would you say to a young adult (20-39) thinking of moving here?
  2. Why do people move here?
  3. Why do people stay here?
  4. How does population growth of young adults affect you, and how does it affect your community?
Community Resources
  1. How do you feel about your shopping opportunities around here?
  2. How do you feel about your food options around here? What do you think of farmers' markets around here?
  3. What are the schools like here? What about libraries?
  4. What do young people do for entertainment/recreation around here? What are recreation centers like? To what extent do young adults engage in local cultural life where you live?
  5. How are outdoor activities important here?
What Young Adults Do
  1. What role do young adults play where you live? What role do you think young adults should play where you live?
  2. Where do young adults who live here work? What about other people who live here? Where do young adults live around here?
  3. To what extent do young adults engage in governance and politics where you live?
Satisfaction and Needs
  1. How do you feel about your quality of life where you live? Economically speaking? Socially speaking? Culturally speaking? Politically speaking?
  2. Who would not feel comfortable here?
  3. How would you want your town to grow? How would you want it to stay the same?
  4. What community groups are influential to people around here? Which ones are helpful?
    What are local projects or impacts that people have had?Which ones were focused on young adults?
  5. What does community mean to you? What does community look like here? What do you need from your community?

Results for Hayward

While the identities of the 20 interview participants remain confidential, a few key characteristics may prove useful to readers in their analysis of these findings.

A Beautiful Landscape

Hayward was the only "up north" community case study. Up North is generally considered by many to be the most attractive part of the state for people seeking a rural experience. Sparsely populated by people, and densely populated by lakes, the landscape is widely appreciated. A unique thread among the interview participants was their sense of appreciation for the beauty of the landscape and the lifestyle it supports. When we asked why people move here and stay here, they said things like:

The Importance of the Outdoors

Of course, with such a landscape, outdoor activities become important. We asked specifically about the outdoors opportunities the area provided and people consistently responded positively. Eleven people emphasized that the outdoors are important, and responses varied enough to show the variety of outdoor activities that fit different peoples' needs. For example, two people noted the abundant opportunities for "silent" sports. Others hailed the area's motorized sports as not only widely available, but also being popular and welcoming social scenes such as the women's four-wheeling group, which has grown "from eight to 130 members." Then of course there is the famous American Birkebeiner ski race—which has generated a wide variety of other activities—and the Lumberjack World Championships.

Many of these interview participants cited both summer and winter sports as valued assets and opportunities in the area: Fishing, snowmobiling, skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, biking.

Uniformly, people suggested that winter was serious but fun business. Whether people complained about disliking the cold or rattled off a list of their favorite events, most people mentioned that they were active in the winter with outdoors activities and events. Everyone goes out in the winter time:

Part of the experience of the landscape, outdoors, and recreation activities, winter is an important aspect of life in Hayward, too. It's not only the weather that is important, but also the community atmosphere that organizes around it:

With a place of such beauty, supporting an active outdoor lifestyle with a wide variety of recreational activities, the community also attracts people conscious about practicing a healthy lifestyle. Six people mentioned the growing demand for food and services supporting a healthy lifestyle, and some hidden resources.

But not everyone felt like they were in the midst of a health-conscious community. One person said:

Tight Knit Community

Hayward is a tightknit community, which yields feelings of comfort, belonging, and identity. Along with general comments about community, seven people mentioned religious organizations as playing a role in their lives or the lives of others. Overall people emphasized Hayward was the kind of community that produces mutual support and requires mutual knowledge of each other:

Of course, the tight-knit community also has a flip side. Six people spoke about how it can be difficult be become accepted into the community, and that there is an adjustment period to belonging in Hayward:

That tight community can also be interpreted by some as a community of older people. Not everyone agreed fully with what the statistics said about Hayward being a place that was gaining and maintaining young adults:

Connected to this perception that it's an "older" community, a couple of people described the tight-knit community as a result of families that have been in the area for a long time. Those families produce a local power structure that some people don't feel wholly comfortable with:

But two other interview participants noted that young adults served on many of the boards for community activities and then started to get elected to city council when they reached their late 30s. Others spoke of the importance of young families in the community, with most agreeing that Hayward is a community that better fits families with children than single people.

Drinking Culture and Community Life

Many of our interview participants saw alcohol consumption and the bar scene as an important part of community life in Hayward. Some people also think there is a problem with alcohol abuse, but most of the people we spoke to mentioned the bar scene as being an important cultural aspect of Hayward. Twelve people mentioned drinking as part of social life, while three specifically mentioned concerns about alcohol (and other substance) abuse. One person, when asked what young people do for recreation, noted that he didn't get to see that many people regularly, saying "I think they're at the bars." Another person mentioned that she believed many more people were moving into Hayward proper because of "DUIs." Others said things like:

Volunteering as Part of Community Life

Though most of the people we interviewed didn't mention their own volunteering, six people noted that volunteers were important people in the community. People described volunteering as helping organize events and festivals, Little League, children's programming, the Park Theater, service organizations, church, and outdoors groups. Many of the major activities and events wouldn't succeed without volunteers.

At the same time, two people mentioned that these organizations and activities often had difficulty attracting enough volunteers.

People Work Hard in Hayward

One of the reasons that it may be difficult to recruit volunteers in Hayward is that people work hard to pay the bills. Whether talking about newcomers needing to have ambition or an entrepreneurial spirit, or noting that they worked beyond the 40-hour work week with multiple jobs, people in Hayward work hard and value hard work. This is related to the seasonal nature of many tourism-related jobs that provide only a service worker wage. With a tourism-driven service industry, there are jobs in bars, resorts, and other service sector jobs. People work multiple jobs across sector, too, doing white-collar jobs and service-sector jobs to make ends meet. Six people mentioned working multiple jobs or knowing others that work multiple jobs. When asked where people in Hayward work, one person said:

Others said things like:

But one interview participant mentioned that there is some local industry that provides a core of better paying jobs. There are also small business owners working equally long hours and earning a modest income. And while probably no one would object to having a more comfortable income, at least one person was philosophical about the situation:

Housing is a Challenge

One of the additional financial challenges facing people in Hayward is housing. Importantly, six people mentioned not only the cost of housing, but the lack of rental housing for young adults. This was a challenge noted by renters and homeowners alike when considering where young people live. Somewhat unusual for our case studies, half of our interviewees were renters.

One person who lived outside of Hayward mentioned she was looking for housing in the city but couldn't find any she could afford.  Two other people mentioned knowing a number of people who receive government assistance to pay for housing.


Schools have been important in each of our case study communities. We asked interview participants specifically about the school system that serves children in Hayward and the surrounding area. Some people were ambivalent about the school system. A few noted some grumblings about decision making, including the limiting of language opportunities in Haywood's public school. People also noted that there is an environmental charter high school, the Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Immersion School, and a virtual charter school in the area. Five people discussed how they thought the academics of the public schools were not great, but at least two of them also mentioned that they seemed to prepare students adequately for college:

Seven other people spoke glowingly of the schools:

Four people specifically mentioned that the schools were strong in sports, and two people mentioned that Hayward schools readily fill their open enrollment slots.

Local Amenities

While outdoor recreation opportunities were highly regarded in Hayward, our interviewees were not so positive about the availability of other amenities. Four people indicated that they either didn't know about the local farmers' market or couldn't access it because they were working during the market's open hours:

One local amenity that stood out for three people was the local library, which has a nature walk around it and a pier that extends into a pond and wetland area. When it comes to programming and services targeted at children, the library appears to have good options for people with programs geared specifically towards them.

Shopping is another challenge in Hayward. While there are grocery options available that people find acceptable, they described some of the other adjustments they have to make if they live in Hayward, and this included shopping online and planning trips to Duluth for shopping. Nine people mentioned not finding the shopping options very good in Hayward and eight people told about going to Duluth for shopping. Specifically, people mentioned work clothes and "heels" as being hard to find in town. One person suggested, for shopping in Hayward, "bigger city options" [where it's] "competitively priced with things an hour away..." Other people spoke of planning out regular trips to Duluth:

People also appreciated area festivals, and the venues in town that had regular live music. But they also noted that there wasn't as much entertainment as they would like:

Growth and Change in Hayward

How do people want Hayward to change? It was somewhat difficult to pin down a major theme in regards to how people want Hayward to change. Considering the facets of life that people mentioned above, it makes sense that people value the quietness of their town:

But at least one person felt favorable toward some kind of growth:

Other interview participants did not talk so much about growth as about different entertainment options, or shopping options, that they might want which might require growth.

Comparing Hayward to Other Communities
Hayward is Unique

Hayward is unique from all our other case study communities in a number of important ways. First, and most importantly, it is the only community in our study where people did not bring up commuting to work. Interviewees in all of our other case study communities discussed how either they, or people they knew, were commuting into the city for their jobs. In Hayward, the only person who mentioned commuting was commuting to Hayward. When we looked at the statistical data for Hayward on commuting to work there are a fair number of young people commuting for work. But it did not turn up in our interviews. And the reality is that there is no city to commute to. Duluth is nearly 90 minutes away by the speed limit. Importantly, however, people did discuss traveling to Duluth for shopping, which is similar to many of our other case study communities.

Hayward is also unique in having the Lac Courte Oreilles Indian Reservation nearby. People made brief mentions of the reservation, but didn't broach any extended discussions. The one Tribal member we spoke with described having had a positive experience in Hayward. Only one person mentioned wanting a better relationship with Tribal members. One person mentioned attending Pow Wows. A couple people spoke positively of the Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Immersion School. We realize that discussions of these relationships with strangers can be difficult, so we are not surprised we did not hear more. One interview participant in Black Creek also indirectly mentioned the nearby Oneida Reservation as an asset

A final unique quality of Hayward is that it seems to lack some of the advantages that interviews commonly cited in our other case study communities. First is the perceived lack of affordable housing. Appropriately affordable housing was very important to interview participants in the other case study communities. Second is the distance from any other city. Not only our other case study communities, but nearly all the other communities in the state that had growing young adult populations were much closer to a more urban area.

Social Connections, Schools, and Trade-offs

Similar to many of our other case study communities, people seem to have some connection to Hayward before they move there, whether that is a relative, a spouse's job, or a previous vacation experience. Across the board a relevant link was important to bringing new people to Hayward. The lifestyle offered an eventual acceptance into the community is what has kept many people here.

Schools were also important in all of our case study communities. And while the perceptions of the Hayward schools is mixed, one common element of the schools that is valued in Hayward and the other communities are the perceptions that the schools are small enough for people to know each other and connected enough to the broader community so that parents feel like they have a relationship with the school.

Also similar to other case study communities are the trade-offs people are willing to make for a rural community experience where there are fewer local entertainment, employment, and shopping options. In Hayward, because of its distance from any larger urban place, those trade-offs were the most intense. But people seemed happy to make those compromises, whether that meant making a day of going to Duluth for shopping or becoming comfortable with the options for social-life—in fact loving the options to live the Hayward lifestyle. In our other case study communities young adults were more likely to mention housing affordability, good schools, and distance from the city as the main reasons they chose the community.


Two other case study communities where tourism was important were Somerset and Delavan. Somerset is just across the border from the Twin Cities and Delavan is in southeast Wisconsin. All three communities found their relationships with tourists to be mixed. But Somerset and Delavan's tourist experiences were more about weekend visitors than seasonal ones. So their local economies were less organized around tourists than in Hayward. The young adults in Somerset and Delavan were more likely to be focused on commuting jobs than jobs in the local service industry, and experienced less apparent financial stress related to housing. There was also less emphasis on a lifestyle focused around the natural amenities of the region.

So What?

Some of the results from our study may not be surprising to you. Many of the themes brought up by participants are indicative of a healthy, thriving community. While you may not be surprised to hear that a strong school system and proximity to another urban area for shopping and/or jobs are important to community members, it is important to remember that there are many communities that are struggling to retain their young adults due to a lack of these community amenities and attributes. We hope that the results of this case study affirm the good work being done in your own community while aiding others who will greatly value the observations and results gathered in your community.

Our research findings also hold some implications for Hayward.

Overall, it seems that Hayward residents know things to keep an eye on such as drug and alcohol abuse, are aware of what they value about life in Hayward, and understand what might bring new people in to town. They also see the splits in the community—between the silent and motorized sports, between the health culture and the drinking culture, between the progressives and the conservatives, between the young and the old, between the poor and the working and middle classes. And there has been at least some integration with Tribal culture in the community. But Hayward also does not see itself as a place gaining and maintaining young adults (which the statistics say it is), and there are mixed perceptions of the school.

Unique Lessons

We cannot stress enough how unique Hayward is. There are only a handful of other places "up north" that meet our criteria of places that are gaining and maintaining young adult populations. And those other places are also tiny spots where a new subdivision of a dozen lots can make a large difference in percentages, not developed towns like Hayward. Hayward, consequently, is the exception that makes the rule. Our other case study communities lead to the finding that four important factors—relatively affordable housing, great schools, commuting distance from a city, and specific amenities geared toward young families—are the main attracters for young adults. There is some of that in Hayward—many people think positively of the schools, the statistics say a number of people drive out of town to their jobs, and there are certainly those outdoor amenities. But people talk about Hayward more as a hub than a spoke; they have mixed feelings about the school, and the outdoor and entertainment activities seem to be as accessible for young singles as young families. Clearly, the development of an outdoor culture is a huge draw for young adults. It may be worth people reflecting on how that culture has been built, and whether the past holds lessons for building it even further.

Risk Factors

We cannot say exactly what makes Hayward the Up North exception. That would take further study. But it may be worth the trouble for people in Hayward to spend more time talking to each other about what attracts young adults to their community and maintains a healthy proportion of young adults there. They may also look closer at some of the risk factors that could reverse that trend, such as low service wages, relatively high housing costs and a lack of rental housing, a lack of specific shopping amenities, and mixed feelings about the local schools. There may also be ways to further expand appreciation for the cultural diversity that exists in the region, as we are learning that young adults in our other case study communities desire more diversity in their communities. There may be ways of engaging young adults in discussions and planning around these issues. But young adults, working multiple jobs to make ends meet, and caring for children, will find it difficult to participate without supports to do so. The community will need to find ways to make young adult participation convenient, cost-free, and meaningful.