To the Class of 2017, Please Leave…


To the Class of 2017,

Please leave:

  • your comfort zone and explore opportunities
  • to find your passion
  • to make connections
  • to get a degree
  • to learn a skill/trade
  • to get a job/experience
  • to see the world
  • to start a family
  • to appreciate where you came from


The perception of rural America is often one of decline and stagnation. Images of abandoned farms, boarded storefronts, and closed down schoolhouses come to mind.

Yes, those conditions exist. But it’s time to bust some myths. Contrary to popular perception, small towns in Kansas are not losing people of all ages, nor are all small towns dying, some are slowing decline and others are increasing in population.

High school graduates might leave rural areas for college and jobs in the big city, but more are coming back with college degrees, careers, professional contacts, and young families. Still others with these credentials are moving to rural communities for the first time.

People often lament a brain drain in rural Kansas—the loss of 18-25-year-olds who leave their small home towns after high school. But there is also an in-migration to these towns of 30-49-year-old adults and their young children. In many cases, those moving into rural communities offset, or surpass, the numbers of those moving away. Where one may leave but another returns, with a spouse, and  children. This is called a BRAIN GAIN (watch the video below to learn more from Ben Winchester). This is hopeful news for Republic County. But the trend must be sustained.

Republic County Economic Development has been working to bust these trends with many efforts.  Those being connecting alumni to jobs, housing, resources to start a business, volunteer opportunities, and even providing “reverse-scholarships” to help pay off your student loans.

Yes, some of these alumni are fortunate to make returning home a quick and harmless transition. Others are pioneering their way back, working odd jobs, saving to create their own business, or patiently waiting until that career opportunity opens up.

The right opportunity for you may not be in Republic County right now, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be one in the future. Frankly you are a much better asset to your employer, community, and family if you are “rural by choice” and gained an education or experiences outside our county then choose to come back at the right time.

I often have to remind myself that many of our business and community leaders haven’t been in Republic County their whole lives. Many are products of brain gain and they took the risk in returning or moving into a rural area at some pivotal point as a young adult. Brain gain has been happening for decades but it hasn’t been popularized or praised by the media. I feel the perception of rural has changed a lot recently with so many young people seeking opportunity here in Republic County.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb

Our current leaders were not able to return without some kind of assistance from family, friends, organizations, or employers. RCED would like to help any alumni return as well. Young people may not return in their 20’s, rather in their 30’s, 40’s, or to retire. Until then, keep connecting them to opportunities back home via our websitesocial media, or local news.

Congratulations the Pike Valley and Republic County High School graduating classes of 2017!


Please fill out this form so we can connect you to opportunities in Republic County!