A new role for land grant institutions?


"As modern economics continue to encroach on the family farm and as jobs move to cities, people – especially young people – are fleeing rural America. The problem isn’t new and isn’t unique to this corner of southeast Nebraska. But after years of false starts and failed efforts to reverse depopulation, University of Nebraska researchers believe they’re building an infrastructure that will help revitalize rural parts of their state that, in many cases, have been shedding residents for half a century or more.


The project makes sense in both the abstract and the concrete. As a land-grant university, the university’s flagship campus in Lincoln is charged with working in rural communities and training the state’s agricultural workers. Speaking more practically, fewer and fewer students are graduating from Nebraska high schools each year, making it harder for college recruiters to fill their entering classes with in-state students. State appropriations to the university are also lagging.


A booming rural Nebraska, the theory goes, could bring a replenished tax base and more in-state applicants."