Will people move back to a community they didn’t enjoy?

Will people move back to a community they didn’t enjoy?

Lasondra Aurand
Belleville Telescope
October 28th, 2017

A couple of weeks ago in my editorial, I asked the public for any questions that they may have for me to answer as a very young adult.

Surprisingly to me, the only questions I received pertained to how well the community does to bring back kids that grew up here.

For instance, does the county really show all of the career opportunities available here? Luke Mahin, RCED director, asked about my knowledge of the Rural Opportunity Zone, which helps new residents pay off their college loans.

While I think programs such as the ROZ aren’t pushed enough (I had never even heard of it before Luke’s email), I also believe that there’s an underlying question that is more relevant to high schoolers.

Before we ask if there’s enough information about jobs in Republic County, I think we need to ask if teenagers in Republic County are enjoying high school.

This may not be the answer adults want to hear, but I think it’s a prominent issue concerning the return of our students.

Sometimes teenagers can feel trapped in their own hometown. If they go to high school and don’t fit in, it’s really easy to long for somewhere else to be. It’s really easy for high schoolers to long to be somewhere else even if they do fit in.

Let’s face it: there isn’t an abundance of places to go hang out with your friends. We have to make our own entertainment or drive for a while before we find somewhere to hang out, which is fine!

I realize that teenagers have always had to entertain themselves. However, if you feel trapped somewhere, it’s hard to see the benefits of moving back after you graduate college before you even leave your hometown.

Personally, I would want my kids to grow up in a place where they would enjoy their years as a teenager, and if that’s not the experience I had, I wouldn’t want to bring my kids back to the town that I didn’t enjoy.

If we show teenagers programs and careers in Republic County, they may remember those benefits in college and come back after graduation.

Before we pressure students to come back, I think we should give them options and try to make high school enjoyable, but then take a step back.

It can take some time and distance to see how our community makes a great home.

We should show students resources available to them

Letter to the Editor
Belleville Telescope
November 7th, 2017

To: Lasondra Aurand: I agree with your article (Will people move back to a community they didn’t enjoy, October 26 edition Belleville Telescope.)

It’s hard for a high school student to assess what value Republic County has for them when they are young. That’s why I wrote this article: To the Class of 2017, Please Leave…. www. republiccountykansas.com/graduates_leave/.

RCED’s target audience is usually the 25-35 year-olds who are seeking jobs, housing, or business resources in the county and ready to make life-changing decisions. The needs of high school students don’t always match up to the resources we offer adults.

However, we do know that it’s never too early to show students the resources available to them even if they aren’t ready to use that information yet. After two years of attempting to get this program going, we finally were able to host the Republic County Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge last spring – www.republiccountykansas.com/youthentrepreneurshipchallenge-winners/.

Many students now better understand how our office can help them if they choose to explore an opportunity here after high school. We hope to expand this program to more students in 2018 showing them what our office can help with if they choose to run their own business.

It’s not enough, but it’s a start.

Thanks again for writing about this issue from your point of view.

Luke Mahin
Republic County Economic Development Director