Rural

file: Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

The Great Recession decimated the American economy more than eight years ago. And while many of America's cities have crawled back to modest economic prosperity, the rural economy has stagnated, displaying few bright spots in employment and poverty rates.

In short: rural parts of the country are still struggling.

Flickr / Roger W

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is holding a rural LGBT summit Thursday at Drake University.

Ashlee Davis is the director of the event, which is the 15th the USDA has held in the rural and southern U.S.. Davis says some there’s a widely-held myth that LGBT people don’t live in rural American, but data from the most recent U.S. Census shows that's not the case.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Consumer advocates who are worried about elderly Iowans in particular pleaded with the Iowa Utilities Board Tuesday not to ease up on phone companies who provide landline service, especially in rural Iowa.  

The Board is considering rules to give companies more time to restore service when there’s been a phone outage. 

Anthony Carroll with the AARP says thousands of Iowans without cellphones still rely on landlines for everyday needs, including dialing 9-1-1.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

 

Rural towns need psychologists, social workers and substance abuse counselors, but there is a chronic shortage. The U.S. needs about 2,700 more clinicians to catch up to demand, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Outside of metropolitan areas there just aren't enough providers to go around.

Liesl Eathington, Iowa State University

You probably can’t go out for sushi nearby, and it might take an hour to get to a discount store but for some the benefits of living in rural Iowa more than outweigh those inconveniences. At the same time more and more Iowans are drawn to city life. According to Dave Swenson, an economist at Iowa State University, the numbers prove that true.  

“Just this decade, 71 of Iowa’s 99 counties have posted 2015 populations smaller than they were in 2010. That’s a trend that’s continued for at least two decades now,” he says.

Flickr / Jimmy Emerson, DVM

The Iowa College Student Aid Commission says more than $700,000 in grants will be awarded to 16 healthcare professionals who work in rural Iowa. The grants will be matched by the communities where the recipients are employed.

Danielle Weber is a physical therapist who lives and works in Jefferson, the seat of Greene County. With more than $80,000 in debt she says the grant is like winning the lottery.

She explains that while her tuition at Des Moines University was “not cheap,” salaries in rural communities tend to skew lower.

WIKICOMMONS / Billwhittaker

Conventional wisdom says city-living is expensive. But a new report from an Iowa public policy group finds that's not always the case.

The Iowa Policy Project's 2016 "Cost of Living in Iowa" report finds that even though Iowa cities have higher rents and childcare costs, health insurance and long commutes eat up bigger portions of rural household budgets.

Flickr / much0

Teachers, parents, and students embraced and some cried moments after the Iowa Board of Education voted unanimously to de-accredit and close the Farragut Community School District. This is only the third time the state education board has dissolved a school district. 

David Wade Couch / flickr

Though Iowa is known as an agricultural state,  more than 60 percent of Iowans live in cities, and the gulf between rural and urban Iowa is about much more than distance.

Carl Wycoff

A bill in the Iowa house would allow school districts to levy taxes to supplement transportation costs, but some say the legislation doesn't do enough to help rural districts.

Many school districts in rural Iowa cover a large geographic area, so a sizable portion of general operating budgets is spent on busing at the expense of other expenditures like text books and teacher salaries. Enabling school boards to raise property or income taxes to address transportation costs would allow districts more budgeting leeway. 

Wikimedia Commons

Elk Horn Pastor Keith Menter couldn’t let his town go without some sort of news source.

Screen Shot

Sandy Ricklefs announced to her community in Center Junction that the city would not disincorporate earlier this month. 

Amy Mayer/IPR

The U.S. Department of Agriculture touches Americans from the field to the cafeteria, with a bevy of programs that include subsidies for farmers and for school lunches. 

Wikimedia Commons

In rural Iowa, it feels like there’s plenty of room, but the land that makes up that seemingly endless wide open space is very much in demand.

University Press of Kansas

Many of the big ideas that have changed the world have started in small towns.  Host Charity Nebbe talks with John Miller about his new book, Small Town Dreams: Stories of Midwestern Boys Who Shaped America, we’ll talk about how the place you come from shapes who you are, how small towns have changed over the years and about some remarkable men who came from Midwestern small towns. Then, sociologist Paul Lasley talks about what it means to grow up in a small town today.

National Archives and Records Administration / U.S. Department of Agriculture

When a storm knocks out power for a few hours, it's an inconvenience; if the outage lasts much longer it becomes a crisis.  However, not so long ago electricity was far from ubiquitous in Iowa.

Iowan Kieth Wirt was 10 years old when electricity came to his family’s farm in Panora. Like most households, the first appliance the Wirts purchased was a refrigerator, and soon after indoor plumbing.

Durrie Bouscaren / Iowa Public Radio

Low propane supplies in the Midwest have driven up the cost of the fuel used by many rural families to heat their homes and businesses—to the point where Senator Chuck Grassley has requested an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.

Iowa Public Radio’s Durrie Bouscaren traveled to an area in Central Iowa that depends on propane, and came back with this story. 

Washington State Deptartment of Transportation

This program includes  hearing from one Iowa community that has incorporated new roundabouts aimed at easing traffic flow, and state lawmakers talk about what projects might be in store for the state, and how they might want to fund those projects. A House Republican and a Senate Democrat find agreement on one aspect of the issue: the gas tax.

Broadlawns Medical Center

Even if the rollout of the federal health law had gone off without a technical hitch, getting millions of Americans to sign up for insurance would still be a tall order. That’s why the law includes funding for workers trained to help people find their way around the new system. But in rural states like Iowa, with populations spread across hundreds of miles, those workers face an especially daunting challenge.

Before the Great Depression there was the farm recession, and times were tough for farm families in Iowa. This hour, we focus on the lives of rural Iowa women in the early twentieth century.

Host Charity Nebbe talks with author Chris Baker about his grandmother, growing up in rural Davis County in the 1920s. Baker recently published a book including journal entries detailing her life. And, historians Dorothy Schwieder and Katherine Jellison help us understand the times.

Rural Post Offices in Crisis

Mar 25, 2013
Bill Wheelhouse / Harvest Public Media

It’s mid-morning on a bleak March day in Nilwood, Ill. And every 10 minutes or so, a car or truck pulls into the gravel parking lot in front of the south-central Illinois town’s post office.   

Rush hour.

Because there is no mail delivery here, the town’s 236 residents must stop in to the post office to stay connected. Staffed by one full-time postmaster and one relief person, this office provides mail service six days a week.    As in many rural communities across the country, the post office serves as an informal community center.

Iowa Rural Health Assocation website

At times, people living in rural Iowa struggle for access to medical specialists. The nearest pediatrician or cardiologist may be hours from a patient's home. River to River examines the state of rural health care in Iowa and now that health care is the law of the land, how will health care change in Iowa?

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

This is the fifth installment of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.

When a guy is a mechanical engineer at a nuclear power plant, you figure he puts in a pretty good day of work.

Not so for Nolan Strawder, whose day job, as he calls it, is at the Wolf Creek Nuclear Power Plant in Burlington, Kan.

Clare Roth / IPR

In recent months, several small-town Iowa reproductive health care clinics have closed. And now, more may be in danger. Bills introduced this month in Congress threaten to cut Title X funding, which provides for reproductive health care across the nation, and supplies it to places with few other options like rural Iowa.

Bridging the Gap Between Rural, Urban Ag

Jul 16, 2012
Urban-Ag Academy / Facebook

In the Iowa Statehouse, and in statehouses across the nation, representatives are finding themselves separated—not by party lines, but by whether they come from an urban or rural district.  This weekend, the first national Urban Ag Academy was held in Des Moines. The goal? To look at that divide and to give a voice to minority farmers.

Bridging the Gap Between Rural, Urban Ag

Jul 16, 2012
Urban-Ag Academy / Facebook

In the Iowa Statehouse, and in statehouses across the nation, representatives are finding themselves separated—not by party lines, but by whether they come from an urban or rural district.  This weekend, the first Urban Ag Academy was held in Des Moines. The goal? To look at that divide and to give a voice to minority farmers. More than sixty state representatives from across the country came together to in an effort to help bridge the divide between city and country. 

Daniela Hartmann / flickr

July 1 is a big date for mental health care in Iowa—that’s the day funding switches over to a redesigned model. The legislature approved a plan to equalize mental health care funding for low income residents across the state.  Some counties are crying foul, saying programs will be gutted. But other’s say the change they say finally gives all counties a level playing field.