A cemetery stands next to
St. Michael's Catholic Church in Holbrook, Iowa. Small towns across Iowa are
losing population as many young people move to larger cities and older
generations fade away.
As I wander through the rural
communities that surround my home in Iowa, I can feel the energy fading.
Without government subsidies most farms in Iowa could not stay afloat. Old
hands can still operate tractors, but innovation is for young minds. Tired
and defeated, some parents in these small towns hope their children will move
away to find better opportunities. More then 60 percent of Iowa's college
graduates move out of state. Only the most faithful have the strength to
stay -- Amish, Mennonite and those connected to the land through work. As
many Iowans leave the state an influx of immigrants are filling the labor
shortage. Latinos are finding jobs in Iowa's slaughterhouses and vegetable
fields, bone-breaking work that most locals turn down. The Hispanic
population grew 153 percent in Iowa during the 1990s, a sign some communities
are redefining themselves in an almost all-white state. Life has always been
hard in these rural communities, but now, more then ever before, people are
beginning to question that sacrifice.