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Community Awareness Award
Danny Wilcox Frazier Freelance
"Through a Lens Darkly: Photographs from Rural Iowa"

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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.



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