rural

Two students share a laptop in the atrium of the chemistry building at the University of Michigan. One, Cameron Russell, is white, a freshman from a rice-growing parish in Louisiana; the other, Elijah Taylor, is black, a senior and a native of Detroit.

They are different, yes, but there is much that unites them.

Adora Namigadde / WOSU

Kids squirm in their classroom seats at Tallmadge Elementary School in Lancaster. Ally Konkler, a 5th grader here, is part of a new generation that has grown up with wireless internet. But she says her home WiFi is slow and not so good for schoolwork.

This year, Clark County celebrates its bicentennial. But some of the county’s farms are even older than that. In fact, Clark County is home to seven farms that are more than 200 years old.

In this story, we visit one these original homesteads: The Wallace Family Farm in Medway, where Wallace descendants have saved generations of personal family records. And today the meticulous archives offer a unique window into Clark County and American history.

Rural Americans can take a dim view of outsiders from Washington, D.C., (or even from the state capital) meddling in their communities.

Ronald Reagan summed up the feeling when he was president: "I've always felt the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government, and I'm here to help.' "

But rural Americans have come across scarier phrases since then, like "the opioid epidemic."

Rural Americans are preoccupied with the problems of opioid and drug addiction in their communities, citing it as a worry on par with concerns about local jobs and the economy, according to a new poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Along the country roads that fan out from Ogallala, Neb., there are abandoned, weathered old farmhouses and collapsed barns, remnants of the hardscrabble settlers who first tapped the Ogallala aquifer and turned the dry, high plains into lush wheat and corn fields.

Like a lot of the Midwest, western Nebraska slowly emptied out over the years, which is why a lot of locals say the current housing shortage is nothing short of a paradox.

Just outside tiny Sheffield, Iowa, a modern steel and glass office building has sprung up next to a cornfield. Behind it, there's a plant that employs almost 700 workers making Sukup brand steel grain bins. The factory provides an economic anchor for Sheffield, population 1,125.

Charles Sukup, the company's president, says that even though workers can be hard to come by, there are no plans to relocate.

"Our philosophy is you bloom where you're planted," Sukup says with a smile.

Thirty-eight calves, between two and four months old, moo and kick at the dirt floor in a steel barn in Brush, Colo. One by one, a handler leads them from the pen to a narrow chute, where their legs are restrained and they're lifted onto a hydraulic table.

The United States does not stack up favorably when compared to other nations with advanced economies when it comes to childhood poverty worldwide, according to a new report, which considered factors such as the lack of access to quality food, high adolescent birth rates and a child dropping out of school.

Adora Namigadde / WOSU

Standing on Main Street in downtown Alexandria, you can spot the local coffee shop, post office, art gallery, museum and village offices in one glance. With just 530 residents, Alexandria is one-stoplight town between New Albany and Newark.

Jay LaPrete / Associated Press

More than half of Ohio counties don’t have enough dentists for the population. Numbers show the dental shortages are especially severe in many rural and low-income communities.

Ohio cities need three important utilities to stay viable: gas, electricity, and water. Now a fourth utility is pushing its way into the conversation: internet access. More specifically high-speed internet access. Where once communities have had to hope that private companies would provide that service, more and more local governments are taking on the responsibility themselves.  

In late 2014 Assistant Commerce Secretary Jay Williams came to Cleveland to announce a federal investment for a 100 gigabit trunk line that runs down right through the heart of the city.

When Dustin Gordon's high school invited juniors and seniors to meet with recruiters from colleges and universities, a handful of students showed up.

A few were serious about the prospect of continuing their educations, he said, "But I think some of them went just to get out of class."

In his sparsely settled community in the agricultural countryside of southern Iowa, "there's just no motivation for people to go" to college, says Gordon, who's now a senior at the University of Iowa.

It's easy enough for people who live in cities to hail a ride, either from a taxi or a service like Uber or Lyft. There's plenty of demand, and plenty of drivers. A startup is trying to bring a similar service to rural America, but it has required some creative thinking.

The town of Van Wert sits on the western edge of Ohio. It's a stretch of flat farm country punctuated with grain silos and a stone castle that's listed as the nation's first county public library.

Modern Rural Renewal

Mar 28, 2013

11:00 Although only about twenty percent of Americans live in rural communities, the health of these communities is vital to the health of the nation. The Obama administration recently laid out a revitalization plan to modernize rural areas while preserving their ecology. In this hour of All Sides, we'll discuss the makings of a vital rural community, and what it takes to preserve this way of life. Guests

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