Vol 8, No 1 (2013): Effect of Monetary Incentives on Response Rates of Questionnaires : Book Review – Fixico (2011)

The National Children’s Study (NCS) is a longitudinal observational study that will examine the effects of genetics and environment on the health and development of children in the United States. The NCS is in a Vanguard, or pilot phase, so it is important to determine the feasibility, acceptability and cost of different data collection methods. The purpose of this study was to determine whether demographic characteristics differed in self-administered questionnaire (SAQ) completion rates, and to examine response rates when a $2 incentive was included with the mailed questionnaire.

This issue also contains a book review of “The Invasion of Indian Country in the 20th Century: American Capitalism and Tribal Natural Resources” submitted by Jeffrey S. Hermsen.


Vol 7, No 4 (2012): Revising State and Federal Approaches to Fire Policy Coordination

For nine decades, the central tenet of American wildfire policy was to protect natural resources and human communities from damages caused by wildfires. After 34 firefighters lost their lives on the front lines during a 1994 wildland fire in California, state and federal approaches to fire policy were irrevocably altered. Plagued by funding woes, climate change and increased development the US fire season grew longer, with already taxed firefighting personnel and equipment in perilously short supply. A collection of federal, state and community agencies are attempting to stem the tide, although require both social agreement and political action by state and federal government. Long term economic and environmental implications of continued outbreaks are profound, and requires both a dedicated set of on-call firefighters, as well as equipment extensive enough to meet the workload demanded not only by a major wildland fire, albeit that of two or three simultaneously.

Vol 7, No 3 (2012): Absence of Age-Income Correlation in Ten Rural South Dakota Counties

Previous research establishes a positive correlation between age and income during the working years of 18 to 65. Survey data from the first 10 communities in a development project in South Dakota do not exhibit this correlation. Census data is examined for the 10 counties involved to determine whether the correlation is absent countywide or if self-selection bias may have produced this result. With income distributions matching their respective counties and working age distributions that do not, factors that might skew self-selection in the observed manner are examined from a life-course perspective.

Vol 7, No 2 (2012): Rural General Surgery: A Review of the Current Situation and Realities from a Rural Community Practice in Central Neb.

Purpose: To examine the reasons fewer students and residents are entering general surgery, to educate residents about the realities of rural general surgery based on the experience of three general surgeons in central Nebraska, and to suggest a strategy for individual general surgeons and for residency programs to maintain the rural surgical workforce.

Methods: A systematic literature review of surveys, review articles, and editorials through PUBMED was performed. Relevant studies were included in a review of the current literature on the rural general surgery workforce, general surgery residency, fellowship training, and rural surgery education.

Findings: There is an insufficient supply of general surgeons in many parts of the country, particularly in rural settings. More general surgery residents are entering into subspecialty fellowship training and fewer are practicing general surgery than in the past. Residents may have inaccurate perceptions about rural general surgery practice. Those residency programs with dedicated rural and community surgery rotations have had more success in producing rural general surgeons.

Conclusions: Although specialization in surgery has many positive effects, maintenance of a general surgical workforce in rural America is crucial to the health care of many citizens. Increasing the numbers of mentoring and training programs could provide medical students and general surgery residents with more educational opportunities that may lead to increased interest in rural surgery.

Vol 7, No 1 (2012): Wellness Activities of Rural Older Adults in the Great Plains

Growing interest in healthier aging coincides with the comprehensive whole person wellness model, defined by Hettler (2003), that includes physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, occupational, and social dimensions. This study examined current activities for older adults in rural senior centers in the Great Plains. A mail survey was administered to the directors of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska senior centers. Findings indicate that only 15 percent of the senior centers in the three states offered activities for all six wellness dimensions. To accommodate activities in a rural senior center, both programs and space for the programs for diverse activities should be addressed.

This issue also includes a book review submitted by Peter A. Kindle – Survival of Rural America: Small Victories and Bitter Harvests by Richard E. Wood.

(Posted Online on February 21, 2012)


Vol 6, No 2 (2011): The Dump: A Visual Exploration of Illegal Dumping on Public Lands in Rural America

This study examines a commonly overlooked form of criminal activity in the countryside – the act of illegally dumping piles of waste materials onto public lands. After a visual examination of the various types of debris that are commonly dumped in these areas, consideration is given to the attitudes, motives and rationalizations that lead to the act of dumping. This study attempts to contextualize this activity within the framework of environmental sociology, emphasizing how attitudes about the natural environment, but also how the physical environment itself, can affect the propensity to dump. This study employs the more specific and quantifiable activity of illegal dumping piles of debris onto public lands in order to more clearly distinguish this activity from similar or related criminal enterprises that occur in rural America; however, it is important to note that the deviant element of this activity is central to the investigation. More specifically, the extent to which this criminal activity is viewed (by either the perpetrator or the community) as deviant has bearing on whether the activity is discouraged, whether penalties or alternatives are provided, the extent and frequency of this activity and, arguably, whether or not illegal dumping occurs in the first place. Finally, solutions to the problems posed by illegal dumping are considered in terms of wiser public policy informed by these social scientific findings.

Vol 6, No 1 (2011): School Consolidation in Nebraska: Economic Efficiency vs. Rural Community Life

We examine the factors driving rural school consolidations, focusing our analysis on Nebraska. We consider statutory and case law, the school financing formulas that drive consolidation and the efforts by rural citizens to challenge those financing formulas in courts. We analyze how rural school consolidations have been framed in newspaper coverage, in order to see the dominant understandings of the cost-benefit tradeoffs in consolidating rural schools. Finally, we study three cases of rural Nebraska school districts for the insights these cases provide as to the challenges of sustaining rural community schools and the effects of consolidation on the students and the communities. Our conclusion is that schools play a vital role in sustaining rural community life, although the costs to the community when schools are consolidated are more difficult to quantify than the economies of scale that motivate those consolidations.


Vol 5, No 7 (2010): Special Issue: Rural Veterinary Practice

This special issue of OJRRP was created to invite authors to submit manuscripts pertaining to the current and future economic, societal, technological, and professional factors influencing rural veterinary practice. In this issue of OJRRP, you will find a wealth of information regarding rural practice, training of veterinary students for rural practice, and various aspects of operating a small to medium sized business in a rural community. We are proud of the efforts of the many authors who contributed work to make this special issue valuable.

Published on October 18, 2010.

Vol 5, No 6 (2010): Special Issue: Community Journalism

Whether we call it community or rural, small-town newspapers, radio, and to a lesser extent, television stations, are still out there pumping the news to a largely loyal following. What is “community journalism?” Wiki says “Community journalism is locally oriented, professional news coverage that typically focuses on city neighborhoods, individual suburbs or small towns, rather than metropolitan, state, national or world news.” It goes on to note that these “Community newspapers, often but not always published weekly, also tend to cover subjects larger news media do not, such as students on the honor roll at the local high school, school sports, crimes such as vandalism, zoning issues and other details of community life. Sometimes dismissed as “chicken dinner” stories, such ‘hyperlocal’ coverage often plays a vital role in building and maintaining neighborhoods.”

They also rarely get much attention from national media or academic researchers. For our part, the Online Journal of Research & Policy proudly offers three research articles addressing rural mass communication.

Vol 5, No 5 (2010): “Why Are You Still Out There?” Persistence among Deep Rural Communities in the Northern Plains


In the face of on-going population loss and despite all dire warnings to the contrary, the clear persistence of certain rural communities continues in unexpected areas of the Great Plains. It is this persistence that is becoming the most difficult element to explain. Thus, this paper turns the traditional research question on its head and asks why some deep rural communities endure. As a result, we introduce a new concept in rural studies-community persistence-and, consequently, we advance a theoretical model to explain why some communities survive without natural amenities or adjacency to a metropolis. Our concept of persistence attempts to answer the question, “why are you still out there?” when most of society has given up on deep rural populations. We offer a sharp distinction between community persistence and the much-discussed concept of community sustainability. Moreover, our theory incorporates place-based sociological, economic and political factors associated with community persistence. In particular, our integrated theory suggests that persistent communities develop dense social networks, high human capital and deliberative civic engagement so that these towns stood out from the crowded field of contenders for sub-regional prominence.

Vol 5, No 4 (2010): Loretta Lynn: Writin’ Life

The release of Loretta Lynn’s 2004 album Van Leer Rose welcomed back after 33 years one of the premier feminist voices in recorded music.  The songs that Loretta wrote in 60s and early 70s were some of the most controversial and politically charged to hit the airwaves. They encompassed a microcosm of issues that rural women were facing including the changing sexual roles of women, ideas on marriage, the ravages of war and substance abuse. This textual analysis looks at the 94 songs that Loretta wrote and co-wrote between the years 1960 to 1972 (the year which she stopped writing), as well as the music of Van Leer Rose. By looking at Lynn’s writing, we begin to understand the viewpoints of this trailblazing artist and how she reflected her life and the social times in her music. It is a testament to her that these works remain as timely and as politically charged today as they did 40 years ago.

Vol 5, No 3 (2010): A rural community pauses to gauge attitudes on the road to an alternative economic strategy

This community-based research uses Q methodology to examine perceptions of tourism and downtown development in a lower Midwest town that has experienced continual economic downturn and decreasing population. With memories of the thriving ranching and oil heyday, some community members are approaching tourism as the new black gold.  At the same time, there is a perception of a fractious community characterized by a heritage of racism, cultural tension, and an aging, burned-out volunteer base. One of the goals of this study was to help community planners make sense out of what they perceived as a jumble of viewpoints. The results of a Q study can help planners determine in a systematic way the significant, persistent attitudes surrounding the issue of tourism development from a broad community perspective. The Chamber of Commerce board members, community leaders, and volunteers used this study as a building block for their strategic plan in tourism.

Vol 5, No 2 (2010): Rural Designations and Geographic Access to Tertiary Healthcare in Idaho

This paper examines the geographic accessibility of tertiary health services for the rural population of Idaho. Utilizing the two most commonly used rurality definitions, we determined the spatial distribution of the rural and urban residents in Idaho. The distance to each of the tertiary healthcare facility was calculated using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Our analysis showed a large disparity between rural and urban geographic access to tertiary healthcare and revealed that there are significant variations in the disparity depending on the rural definition used. Thus there is a need to deploy strategies to enhance rural access and to construct rurality measures that capture the local heterogeneity, given that rurality designations impact the interpretation of access problems, and the funding eligibility for healthcare programs.

Vol 5, No 1 (2010): Boom or Bust: Opportunities and Challenges of Aging in Rural Kansas

Ben Bolender

Population aging is gaining a great deal of attention as we move toward the retirement of the Baby Boom generation. However, few studies have examined the processes and consequences of these aging trends in rural Kansas-and by extension, the Great Plains-at the community level. To that end, this project examines the community level impacts of population aging in rural Kansas. Primary methods included statistical community profile comparisons, site visits, and key informant interviews with local area leaders. The research team examined three non-metropolitan Kansas counties, two that were aging in place and one that is the single officially defined retirement migration destination in Kansas. Results indicate that areas that are aging in place also face significant challenges sustaining their population and economic structure. The retirement destination, on the other hand, has managed to slow population loss and economic decline through a certain combination of economic structure, family relations, local culture, and appropriate services.

  (Posted Online on March 18, 2010)


Vol 4, No 3 (2009): Transition and Resilience in the Kansas Flint Hills

Gerad Middendorf, Terrie A. Becerra, and Derrick Cline

The tallgrass prairie has persisted in the Flint Hills of east-central Kansas for both biophysical and socioeconomic reasons, and has been one of the key elements in the development of the region. A population boom in the latter part of the 19th century and the subsequent increase in cattle in the 1860s-1870s were key factors in the transition of this landscape into a major cattle grazing region by the turn of the 20th century. At various points in the past 150 years, this social ecosystem has exhibited remarkable resilience in episodes of both drought and over-grazing. The resilience of the bluestem pastures had implications for stability in the rural economy. Yet, the land use regimes have undergone change since Euro-American arrival, thus the human signature on the land is by no means static. We approach the human-environment relationship as an ecological dialogue that includes both biophysical and social elements mutually shaping each other, and driven by human interests as much as biophysical factors. Current threats to the tallgrass prairie, including fragmentation and invasive species are discussed.

  (Posted Online on August 13, 2009)

Vol 4, No 2 (2009): What Do Toilets Have to Do With It? Health, the Environment, and the Working Poor in Rural South Texas Colonias

Jo Rios, Pamela Meyer

This paper develops and tests an environmental health ecological framework between the quality of infrastructure, utilities and resident’s practices to health problems reported in three Nueces County, Texas colonias.

   (Posted Online on June 11, 2009)

Vol 4, No 1 (2009): Special Issue: Rural Sociology

The first issue of OJRRP for 2009 focuses on rural sociology.  This is a special edition issue, with six articles being accepted for publication. All of the articles went through the peer-review process.

This special edition issue was overseen by two guest editors: Dr. László J. Kulcsár and Dr. Theresa Selfa.  Dr. Kulcsár is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Kansas State University and the Director of the Kansas Population Center.  Dr. Selfa is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Kansas State University.

Articles in this issue include:

   Metro-nonmetro Economic Growth and Convergence in the Plains States – Rethinking the Rural-Urban Relationship in a Global Economy
            Elgin Mannion, Konstantinos Zougris

   Community Recruitment and Retention of New Residents: A Study Using a Market Assessment Process
            Gibson Nene, Bruce Johnson, Cheryl Burkhart-Kriesel, Randy Cantrell,
            Charlotte Narjes, Rebecca Vogt

   Why Are They Moving Away? Comparing Attachment to Place in the Great Plains to the Rest of the Nation
            Scott Loveridge, Dale Yi, Janet L. Bokemeier

   Tourists’ and Residents’ Values for Maintaining Working Landscapes of the ‘Old West’
            Lindsey J Ellingson, Andrew F. Seidl

   “You Really Ought to Give Iowa a Try:” Tourism, Community Identity, and the Impact of Popular Culture in Iowa
            Anna Thompson Hajdik

   Feed Sack Fashion in Rural America: A Reflection of Culture
            Kendra Brandes

   (Posted Online on January 28, 2009)


Vol 3, No 6 (2008): Rural, Low-Income Mothers: Persistent Problems, Possible Interventions

Bonnie Braun

Persistent economic, food security and civic engagement problems impact the lives of rural, low-income families. A longitudinal study of 524 mothers from 30 counties in 17 states revealed specific problems and possible interventions that can benefit individuals, families and communities. This article shares key findings from the Rural Families Speak study and offers three interventions with rationales for each. It also suggests an organizing framework that enables both individuals and groups within a community to analyze problems and issues and derive any imperative for action.

   (Posted Online on October 30, 2008)

Vol 3, No 5 (2008): Explanations for the Proliferation of Economic Development Corporations Across North Dakota and South Dakota

Nicholas Bauroth

The rural areas of the United States have experienced a proliferation of quasi-governmental institutions over the past three decades. The formation of such institutions represents an important form of local boundary change. Local boundaries determine service delivery, economic development, and intergovernmental relationships. It remains unclear, though, how the process of boundary change unfolds. Using federal and state data, I examine the ability of four general explanations of boundary change to account for the proliferation of economic development corporations across North Dakota and South Dakota. I find that their creation is not driven by economic change or need, but is more associated with property taxes per capita.

  (Posted Online on August 25, 2008)

Vol 3, No 4 (2008): Special Issue 2008: Rural Art

This is a Special Edition Issue

We invited artists from around the Great Plains (and beyond) to submit art they felt inspired and/or are reflective of our rural experience. The competition drew more than a dozen entries and was managed by Dawn Marie Guernsey, professor of Art at University of Kansas.

Artists featured in this issue include:

            Matt Burke
            Carol Ann Carter
            Dawn Marie Guernsey
            John Hachmeister
            Joan Hall
            Michael Hook
            Michael Krueger
            Peter Marcus
            Arny Nadler
            John Sabraw

   (Posted Online on June 17, 2008)

Vol 3, No 3 (2008): Straddling the Great Divide: Migration and Population Change in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains

Evelyn D. Ravuri

Within the collective conscious of the U.S. population, the Rocky Mountain region represents unspoiled natural beauty, recreational opportunities, solace, and an array of other pleasant factors, while the Great Plains is viewed by many as a landscape of limited physical, economic, and cultural interest. For most of the twentieth century, the Great Plains has been a region of net outmigration and population loss. During the early decades of the twentieth century, technological innovations in farm equipment reduced the need for an agricultural labor force and large numbers of individuals left the rural areas of the Great Plains. By the 1970s, economic restructuring and globalization further depleted the Great Plains of population as agribusinesses replaced the family farm as units of agricultural production. However, the Great Plains contains 876 counties spread over 13 states, and much variability in population change has occurred over the twentieth century with the western part of the Great Plains experiencing less of a decline in population than the central and eastern parts. Population change in the Rocky Mountains over the twentieth century experienced a much more inconsistent pattern of growth and decline than that of the Great Plains due to the boom and bust periods associated with the mining and lumbering industries. However, since the 1970s, the Rocky Mountains has experienced rapid net inmigration and population growth, largely a result of innovations in communication and transportation technology which led to less of a need for individuals to be rooted to a certain place, and allowed people to migrate to counties with environmental amenities.

   (Posted Online on May 2, 2008)

Vol 3, No 2 (2008): Community Social Interactive Processes and Rural Adolescents’ Educational Outcomes

Omolola A. Adedokun, Mark A. Balschweid

The low educational outcomes of rural adolescents have long been a subject of research among educational and social researchers. In particular, extant studies have explained the high rates of high school dropout and low rates of college completion among rural adolescents mainly in terms of the structural and economic disadvantages associated with rural life. However, more recent research have employed social capital theory to show that rural adolescents‟ educational outcomes are shaped not only by the structural elements of their communities, but, also importantly by the dynamics of the social interactive processes taking place within this social environment. The present article provides a synthesis and review of literature on the relationship between community social interactive processes and rural adolescents‟ educational outcomes. The article is divided into four sections; the first section is an introduction to the study. The second section is a review of literature on what is known about the relationship between community social capital and educational outcomes in general. The third section is a discussion on the dynamics of the relationship between community social capital and adolescents‟ educational outcomes within the context of rural communities, while the fourth section discusses some identified research gaps and the need for further studies on the influence of community social interactive forces on rural adolescents‟ educational outcomes.

   (Posted Online on March 28, 2008)

Vol 3, No 1 (2008): Small and Smaller: A Comparison of Information Technology in Rural and Frontier Nevada Schools

Kim Vidoni, Cleborne D. Maddux

Most educators, parents, and students seem to agree that computers and information technology should play an increasingly important role in education. As schools continue to add hardware and software, there has been concern about equity. One fear has been that students in rural schools may be at a disadvantage compared to students in urban or suburban school districts. A major problem in interpreting the small, existing body of research comparing the use of information technology in urban and rural schools is the variety of ways that the term rural is defined by researchers. This study developed two matrices (Appendix A and B) and used them to categorize rural districts as either frontier (extremely isolated) or other rural and compared computing resources. The study determined that frontier schools have a higher quantity and quality of information technology resources per student and per classroom while rural schools tend to have faster and higher quality Internet connections.

   (Posted Online on January 10, 2008)


Vol 2, No 4 (2007): Hometown Competitiveness: A Come Back-Give Back Approach to Rural Development

Vicki B. Luther

For the past few years, a collaborative of nonprofit organizations in Nebraska has been evolving a model for community intervention and self-help. The program, called Hometown Competitiveness, has emerged as a new model for interdisciplinary rural development. Combining outside technical assistance with local capacity building, the program features four distinct strategies for entrepreneurship identification and support, leadership training, youth engagement and the creation of local charitable assets. The HTC collaborative is one of 6 programs nationally that received awards from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Entrepreneurship System Development Initiative.

The upcoming paper will offer descriptions of the assessment and engagement tools that have been developed by the HTC team as well as a look at how the collaborative developed and has changed over time. More information is available at:

   (Posted Online on December 1, 2007)

Vol 2, No 3 (2007): Economic Development in Indian Country: Traits that Lead to Sustainability

Kurt Mantonya, Milan Wall

Economic development in Indian Country has a long history of various programs intended to provide economic opportunities for reservation residents. Many of these programs have failed due in part to development perspectives that subjugated the people to ―what works in one place, will work here‖ theory of development. In order to help create sustainable economic opportunities, the Heartland Center for Leadership Development in conjunction with United Tribes Technical College (UTTC) and support from the Economic Development Administration (EDA), Denver Region, conducted a series of case studies focusing on promising programs in Indian Country that were meeting with success. These case studies reflect the positive economic conditions in order to build on them and provide a framework for other communities to follow.

   (Posted Online on September 1, 2007)