map showing location of Plover Municipality Village of Plover
County Portage
Year Incorporated 1971
Population and Growth
Population (2014 if available, otherwise 2010, indicate) 12,123 (2010)
WI Workforce Development Region 6
Young Adult Gaining Measure 9% (WI median is -22%)
Young Adult Maintaining Measure 32% (WI median is 24%)
Social/Demographic Data
Racial stats, 2010 Census 91.1% White (Non-Hispanic)
1.7% White (Hispanic)
0.5% African American
0.4% American Indian or Alaska Native
3.8% Asian
1% Other
1.5% Two or More Races
Mean Income $66,945 (2015)
Median Income $57,838 (2015)
Year of Latest Comprehensive Development Plan 2005
Year and Amount of Last Referendum Passed (2006) $26.4 million
Notes Plover is served by the Stevens Point Area School District.
Type Name Grades Served Private/Public
Elementary Plover-Whiting Elementary School Pre-K – 6 Public
Roosevelt Elementary School K-6 Public
St. Bronislava Elementary School Pre-K – 4 Private
Middle Ben Franklin Junior High School 7-9 Public
Point of Discovery School 6-8 Public
High Stevens Point Area Senior High School 10-12 Public
Charles F. Fernandez Center for Alternative Learning 10-12 Public

Conducting the Case Study in Plover

Collaboration characterized our approach to data collection. The following points briefly review how we developed our interview guide and interview contacts:

  1. Connect to University of Wisconsin-Extension:

    We reached out to UW-Extension in Portage County, requesting recommendations for community leaders who might be interested in our project.

  2. Connect to Plover Leaders:

    Nathan Sandwick and Peter Manley of UW-Extension suggested several community members to join the core group, including local university faculty, government officials, nonprofit leaders, and business leaders.

  3. Develop Interview Guide and Contact List:

    We met with the core group to address the following three points:

    • How is this project relevant to Plover, and your role in Plover?
    • What questions should we include in our interviews?
    • Who should we invite to interviews?
  4. Conduct Interviews:

    We administered the following interview guide to fifteen interviewees who we reached through the core group's recommendations.

  5. Present Results:

    We analyzed and summarized the results of our interviews, and sent them to our Plover and Extension collaborators, and revised the report based on their feedback.

Plover Interview Guide
  1. How long have you lived here?
  2. What is affordable here for you, what is not?
  3. How local is your family to where you live?
  4. What would you say to someone who is thinking of moving here?
  5. What would you say to a young adult (20-39) who is thinking of moving here?
  6. Why do people move here?
    Follow up: Did you choose Plover?
  7. Why do people stay here?
  8. What strategies or factors that attract young adults to where you live are you aware of?
  9. To what extent do young adults engage in governance and politics where you live?
  10. Where do young adults who live here work? What about other people who live here?
  11. Where do young adults live around here?
  12. How do you feel about your quality of life where you live? Culturally speaking?
  13. How would you want your town to grow? How would you want it to stay the same?
  14. What people would not feel comfortable here?
  15. Why did you move here?
  16. Did you stay for the reasons you thought you would?
  17. What would influence you to stay or leave?
  18. What does community mean to you? What does community look like here?
  19. What stories does your town have to share?
  20. What community groups are influential to people around here? Which ones are helpful?
  21. What is entertainment like around here? What do you do for fun?
  22. What do you think of the shopping opportunities around here?
  23. How do you feel about your food options here?
  24. What are the schools like here?
  25. Tell me about surrounding communities?
  26. What do you use that is outside of the community?

Results for Plover

Plover was different from all of the other case studies in that, for most people, it was indistinguishable from Stevens Point, the larger community to its north with whom it shares a short stretch of border. The two communities are otherwise separated by Whiting. In this particular area, people seem to move their residence freely around the area and can identify with any one of the three communities even when they live in the other. Consequently, in this case study we had the fewest pure target community residents, though all of the interview respondents claimed deep knowledge of the community because of their employment or life experience. In much of the analysis we will separate the responses of Plover residents from others, but we did not note any differences in overall perceptions between the two groups. We interviewed 15 people total.


Overall, 13 of our 15 participants noted that they consider housing in the Stevens Point/Plover area to be affordable in almost every aspect.

Plover residents noted the following:

Stevens Point or surrounding area residents had this to say about affordability in the area:

However, some participants expressed concern for renters, and worried that perhaps the housing prices have inflated beyond affordability for some in recent years:


Another aspect of the Plover area that participants mentioned was the availability and diversity of jobs in the area. They listed several large companies with many employees, as well as retailers in the area that employ residents. Additionally, entrepreneurship was a common theme in responses. Plover participants had this to say about jobs:

Residents in other parts of the area and Stevens Point offered the following responses about jobs in the area:

Blurred Lines – Stevens Point and Plover

Plover is conveniently located in the greater Stevens Point area. Participants often noted that they consider Plover and Stevens Point to be one contiguous area. Part of this seems to be due to the fact that there is little opportunity for expansion in Stevens Point and, by happenstance of geography, Plover has the space for new homes and development.

Participants from Plover offered the following:

While many indicated that they think of Plover and Stevens Point as one, two participants distinguish Plover and Stevens Point in distinct ways:

Community Events and Entertainment/Recreation

One aspect of the Plover/Stevens Point area that participants valued was the entertainment and community event offerings in the area. Frequently mentioned was the Green Circle Trail and a concert series in a park. Residents also value the proximity to outdoor recreation in terms of hunting/fishing, organized sports and accessing hiking trails, the river, or convenient bike routes.


It is hard to ignore the attraction of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Undoubtedly Plover's proximity to the University and greater Stevens Point area has contributed to its emboldened young adult population. Participants often mentioned the University as an employer, location for cultural and entertainment events, and as an attracter of young adults to the area. In fact, four of our participants are UW-Stevens Point alumni.

This also seems to influence the local culture. Nine participants spoke of their desires for more racial/cultural diversity in the area, which is somewhat unique among our case study communities.

Plover residents also brought up the local school district in our interviews. They were pleased with the selection of elementary schools. These included a Waldorf-style elementary school and a Catholic elementary school. There was a general concern for the size of the high school however. Participants have noticed that the high school is not able to offer the diversity of classes that it had in the past. Residents spoke positively about the schools in general.

Growth in Plover

When asked about how they would like Plover to grow, interview participants again blurred the lines between Plover and Stevens Point, and between small town and urban. Plover residents and the others had both urban development interests (8 interviewees) and also wanted to keep a small town feel (4 interviewees). On the small town side, people said things like

Then there were the interviewees who offered a variety of creative perspectives on growth that also expressed an urban-style appreciation for greater density:

Support for Young Professionals

Plover was the only community where participants mentioned the importance of a young professionals group in any number. Seven participants noted the importance of the Ignite Leadership Network of Portage County where Plover is located. We must note, however, that our interviewee list was influenced by one of the organizers of that group.

How Plover Compared to Other Municipalities

We completed case studies in eleven other municipalities. Below are some points of comparison for Plover and other areas we studied.


In many of our other case studies, participants highly regarded the local school district. Some had similar concerns to those in Plover in terms of size of enrollment and availability of course offerings. One large difference between Plover and our other case studies is the close proximity of the University of Wisconsin– Stevens Point. In fact, several participants noted that they had either stayed after attending school there, or indicated that the University was a large attractor to young adults. This is similar to what interviewees said in Onalaska, close to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and in De Pere, which is the home of St. Norbert College which is small but still influential in terms of its ability to help maintain a young adult population.

Proximity to Urban Centers

Nearly every case study had the element of close proximity to another urban area or city/town. It seems that places attractive to young adults are connected with other towns for sources of employment, entertainment, or amenities.

Plover was unique both in how close it is to Stevens Point and in terms of how much interview participants identified the two communities together. Nowhere else did participants have such a sense of connectedness and blurred municipal lines as in Plover. The only close comparison would be De Pere, where there are several smaller towns that are in the De Pere school district but not in De Pere proper. The transition from municipality to municipality was not as seamless in De Pere as it was for Plover residents.

Outdoor Recreation

Interviewees in many of the municipalities that we studied cited access to outdoor recreation as one of the reasons they enjoyed living where they do. Hayward, New Richmond, Somerset, De Pere, and others noted this.

Many indicated fishing and water access as important to them. This was particularly pronounced in areas near lakes and rivers, like the St. Croix River near Somerset and New Richmond, the Fox River in De Pere, the Mississippi River in Onalaska, and several lakes in the Hayward area.

State and other parks were frequently mentioned by residents in our case studies. Those in Delavan and Evansville greatly value access to local parks similar to those in Plover who use municipal and state parks connected by the Green Circle Trail.

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 any 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.

Some of the findings also have specific implications for Plover.

Community Connections

Plover is unlike any other municipality we studied given both its immediate proximity to Stevens Point and residents' identification of the area as a single community. Because of this, Plover may need to pay more attention to how it fits into the larger whole. Many core group members and participants mentioned Plover and Stevens Point being part of a larger area. The term "employment shed" was used by some core group members and "labor shed" was used by one interviewee. Many interviewees also either directly called for, or implied, a regional development strategy. For these reasons, it is important to understand how residents think about and value each separate place and the region as a whole.

Often, participants mentioned that when they were looking for a home with a certain number of bedrooms, size lot, and price, they found what they were looking for in Plover. Similarly, our interviewees see much of the new retail development as happening in Plover and surrounding communities rather than in the city of Stevens Point. At the same time, there is a risk if economic development is as unregulated as some residents perceive. In most of our case study communities our interviewees expressed concern that uncontrolled growth could ruin the small-town feel that they valued in their community. On the other hand, only six interviewees used the phrase "small town" in relation to Plover—a smaller proportion than for many of our similar-sized case study communities. So the concerns about growth may be different than for these other places.

Creative Growth Opportunities

Many of our interviewees are not afraid of bringing some sustainable urbanism perspectives into thinking about growth in Plover and Stevens Point. A number of our interview participants see urban forms of growth—growing up rather than out—as consistent with sustainability principles that protect farmland and promote walkability and bike-ability.  They also see this as bringing more urban-style amenities into both Plover and the broader area. Of course, not everyone feels this way, and the path that these interview participants perceive Plover to be on—building larger houses on larger lots with creeping expansion across the freeway to the east—collides with those principles. Plover community leaders may want to engage further discussion about these issues with community members, including with the young adult population in their midst.