Counting on YOU

When you think of April 1, what comes to mind?

Besides being the international day for practical jokes, April 1 is also Census Day! Have you sent your census form in yet?

Making sure every rural American counts is no laughing matter. Taken every ten years as mandated by the United States Constitution, the results of the census determine Congressional seats, electoral votes, and government program funding.

I received my census form a few weeks ago, and it took me less than ten minutes to answer the questions for all the members of my household. I was actually a little disappointed in how short it was, which just goes to show what a nerd I am. The questions are not invasive - they asked for the name, date of birth, telephone number and racial identity of the people in my house. Pretty simple.

The Center for Rural Affairs has been doing its part to help with this year's census - workers being trained on how to do in-person surveys have been meeting in our community room for the last few weeks. In this rough economy, the census is providing much needed employment for my neighbors.

In a representative democracy, knowing how many people live in a given area is fundamental to a functioning government. This is especially important for rural areas, because we tend to be undercounted.

Just ask Barbara Sessa of San Antonio, FL. In a recent article posted on our Rural Monitor, this city clerk was not pleased ten years ago when only 684 people were counted in her community when she knew there were 842. The article goes on to say:

But the census is also a way of saying: We are here; we are 842 strong, here in San Antonio. To its city clerk, who has lived here for all her 61 years — whose entrepreneurial father succeeded, failed and succeeded here, and whose mother raised nine children here — this matters.

Right on, Ms. Sessa.

The census is vitally important to the Center for Rural Affairs for another reason too. On the banner of our homepage and on every newsletter we send you, we show the pride we have in our rural roots:

Lyons, NE 68038   pop. 963

I didn't live here when the last census was taken, and I know that people have moved in and out, others have been born or died in that ten years. When Lyons is counted, will the number be higher or lower than 963? Whatever the number, you'll see it soon when we change our banner to reflect the new census number. What about your town?

If you're proud to be a rural American, stand up and be counted.

Fill out your census form and mail it today! (If you can't find your form, you can call 1-866-872-6868 and ask for a new one).