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Inviting Youth Home to Stay

By: Anne Dewvall

Youth out-migration is a challenge for many small communities. Often, when young people leave for school or to look for work, they never come home. This can be devastating for rural communities, not just because of the drain on population, but because when young people leave – so does their enthusiasm, intellect, ambition, and talent.

Creating an entrepreneurial environment ripe with opportunity is one way to address the exodus of youth to metropolitan areas. Asking them to stay is another.

Cole Herder, a member of the Humboldt E-Community team, shared this story with us and we were so inspired we wanted to pass it on.

The idea originated in Brookfield Missouri, where the town presented their graduating seniors with a mailbox and an invitation to consider a future in their hometown. The Dream Humboldt and Business Action Teams had tossed this idea around before, but this year, the idea turned to action.

“Having a graduating senior, my last, I was motivated to start something in Humboldt,” recounted Herder. “I think it’s time we change our culture. Our graduates can do very well for themselves right here in Humboldt, Kansas… rural America.”

The Business Action Team went to work and soon the project began to take shape. They used American made mailboxes, earning a discount and free shipping from the company for their idea. From there, assembling the mailboxes was a group effort. The vinyl letters were applied by hand by the team and custom invitations were designed and ordered by a local marketing guru and Humboldt High School alumni.

At the graduation ceremony, mailboxes lined the stage making a profound visual statement.

“We invited the graduates to consider how Humboldt might fit into their future,” said Herder.

That message may have resonated beyond the ears of the class of 2013. Other alumni were in the crowd visiting graduates.

“We have already discussed plans for next year and agreed to start earlier! Thanks for the support of Dream Humboldt and the Business Action Team!”