Vermont Losing Prized Resource

This article surprised me, in the New York Times:

Vermont Losing Prized Resource as Young Depart
POULTNEY, Vt. — Not long ago, Ray Pentkowski, the principal of Poultney Elementary School, published an unusual request in the school newsletter. Please, he urged parents, have more babies. The school desperately needs them.
He was half joking, but the problem is real. His school, down to 208 children, has lost a third of its student population since 1999 and must cut staff levels, he said, "for the first time in my memory."
Poultney, a town of 3,600 bordering New York, is just one example of a situation that increasingly alarms many in
Vermont. This state of beautiful mountains and popular ski resorts, once a magnet for back-to-the-landers, is losing young people at a precipitous clip.
Vermont, with a population of about 620,000, now has the lowest birth rate among states. Three-quarters of its public schools have lost children since 2000.
Vermont also has the highest rate of students attending college out of their home state — 57 percent, up from 36 percent 20 years ago. Many do not move back. The total number of 20- to 34-year-olds in Vermont has shrunk by 19 percent since 1990.
Vermont's governor, Jim Douglas, is treating the situation like a crisis. He proposes making Vermont the "Silicon Valley" of environmental technology companies to lure businesses and workers; giving college scholarships requiring students to stay in Vermont for three years after graduating; relaxing once-sacrosanct environmentally driven building restrictions in some areas to encourage more housing; and campaigning in high schools and elementary schools to encourage students "to focus now on making a plan to stay in Vermont," said Jason Gibbs, a spokesman for Mr. Douglas.

The rest of the article here.

You know, this doesn't surprise me a whole lot, although I didn't know that we have the lowest birthrate in the country. I was born and raised in Vermont, and I love the state. It's small, quiet, low crime and very nice to look at. Unfortunently, jobs and prospects are fairly low here. The biggest employer is IBM (I'm pretty sure) and there have been cuts every now and then, and it's always a possibility that the company will pull out of Vermont all together. We depend on tourism, which is largely a seasonal job, with foliage season, ski season being the biggest.
Tourism is risky though. Often, people come up to see the quaintness of Vermont. The dairy farms, cows, beautiful leaves and the locals.
That's all been changing. People see this and move up, and want paved roads and the farms to smell nicer. The cows have been vanishing as more and more people - much like the kids leaving the state- have been leaving family farms for other prospects, not wanting to work seven days a week, twenty hours a day with a job that's slowly becoming harder and harder to keep up with. It's just not what it seems on the surface - Vermont is a very hard place to live, with extreme weather, distances and roads.
I don't know if I'll be leaving Vermont once I graduate. I've often thought about living in some places in New York, Ohio, the mid-west and south west of the country, places that I've visited and fallen in love with while there. But, I also want to raise a family here, because from everything that I've seen, that's the best place to do it. I wouldn't change anything of that.
I'm not a Gov. Douglas supporter. I've met him a couple of times, and he's a very nice guy, but I don't always agree with his policies. However, I do agree with him that we need work, and a sort of Silicon Valley project would make sense for the state- It would bring in some new industries that would be fairly environmentally friendly and would bring in new work. The only problem is that there will be a lot of resistance to the expansion of places like Williston (known for it's huge number of box stores - Walmart, Office Depot, Staples, Best Buy, Toys R Us, etc) and people - especially people who have moved in for the quaintness of the state, object because it destroys local stores. It's a dilema.