Reporting On The Real Rural America "There are a lot of challenges [in rural America]", reporter April Simpson told us. "But I think it's also important to show what's working and ... the people that are really invested in their communities to create places people will want to come back to."

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Reporting On The Real Rural America

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Reporting On The Real Rural America

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Reporting On The Real Rural America

Reporting On The Real Rural America

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A farmer drives a tractor down a road near Ottawa, Illinois. Farmers who rely on Farm Service Agency (FSA) loans to meet operating expenses, buy seed, fertilizer and equipment became concerned during the government shutdown that they would not be able to make their spring planting deadlines. SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES hide caption

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SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES

A farmer drives a tractor down a road near Ottawa, Illinois. Farmers who rely on Farm Service Agency (FSA) loans to meet operating expenses, buy seed, fertilizer and equipment became concerned during the government shutdown that they would not be able to make their spring planting deadlines.

SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES

We hear a lot about the challenges facing rural America.

New research from the University of New Hampshire says one third of rural counties are experiencing "protracted and significant" population loss.

These counties have six million residents — that's down by a third from 1950.

The idea of leaving small-town America for opportunity in the big city is nothing new: from hopping on a bus to Hollywood, to the exodus of black Americans known as The Great Migration.

But across the country more people are doing just the opposite. They're either staying in their small hometowns — or moving back to fight for the places they love.

And more journalists are working to add those voices to a broader story about a more diverse and changing rural America.

To better help us understand rural America, we spoke with Sarah Smarsh, the host and executive producer of "The Homecomers" — a new podcast that highlights voices from rural America; April Simpson, a reporter covering rural issues for Stateline a news service funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts; and Esther Honig, a reporter at KUNC public radio in Colorado - one of our 1A Across America partner stations.

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