This is my first My Turn. Just like two months ago, it was my first time ever writing a newspaper article. This is the first November in more than 16 years I haven’t been in school, and for the first time last week I went to a dentist who didn’t also know the inside of every one of my family member’s mouths.
Because of all these firsts I feel it is needless to say I am young. I am not ashamed to say I am young, nor am I ashamed that this is my first time doing a lot of things.
I am very proud of my age and of my new accomplishments in life, but I think what’s even more exciting is that I’m having these new experiences in Plumas County.
I am not from here. I was raised in Sonora and moved up here in 2008 to study equine studies at Feather River College. Being five hours away from home in a foreign place encompassed by sometimes-impassable mountains was daunting for an 18-year-old girl, but I learned to adapt.
During the summer I was hired at Graeagle Stables, in what I saw as the smallest town ever. However, after experiencing all the beauty and freedom the area had to offer, it was not hard to make the place home.
I often hear people saying the main issue in the county is the declining population. Though I can understand the concern, it’s discouraging for people like me who are actually responding to the county’s attempts to lure people in.
I am a Plumas County recruitment poster child. I have been around for almost four years. I left here when I graduated FRC to finish my education, but I always came back when I was out of school.
Just a couple months ago, I exchanged my home base for the mountains, the trees, the horses and the people of Plumas County.
I am not the only one either. My best friend from Santa Rosa, who also went to FRC and worked in Graeagle, is up here with me. She and I congregate with the other young people who have made this area their home too. We are all like some underground society nobody really knows about.
I know it is discouraging to see people leaving, but take heart in those the community is bringing in. We are young, we are energetic, and we know that coming up here and forsaking the comfort that is in a big city means we are really going to try to make it work.
This community is an hour and a half away in each direction from two major colleges and we have one really great one right at our doorstep, so there is a constant flow of young people coming into the county. There should be a big red target painted on all these young people coming in.
I know young people can be indecisive, so the community wants families with 2.5 kids for commitment assurance. However, I believe if the younger generation is convinced there is something worthwhile up here for them they’ll stay, and in staying they’ll probably start their own families. What’s even better is that something doesn’t have to be a great paying job.
For me all I needed was what was already here like recreational activities, beauty and a certain sense of independence. I figured out the job stuff after I decided to stay, as most of us did.
Trying to create jobs with enough income for families to support themselves is going to be a tough task for this area. Yet creating jobs for young single people to support themselves is doable, and using the county’s natural assets to bring them in is more than achievable.
Younger people have the passion to forgive the county for the shortcomings that are only a consequence of hard times, and bring in an energy and life that is much-needed.
I think this is a truth that should not be overlooked, and it doesn’t make any sense to me that we are letting the young people funnel into the county, and then shoot out once they have a diploma.
This could be a vital new approach to the population problem. Focusing on young first-timers is risky, but I think underestimating the youth coming in is even more detrimental.