Stafford: Baby Boom

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(Host) As writer and business owner Luke Stafford settles into his role as a
new dad, he’s witnessing a change in local demographics that is defying
the statewide trend.

(Stafford) You’ve probably heard by now that
Vermont is old. 2010 census data reveal that the Green Mountain State’s
population is the second oldest in the country. We’re even older than
Florida, where, as we speak, my retired father is teeing up on a Fort
Meyers golf course. And I happen to live in Windham County, the oldest
county in Vermont.

In my town of Newfane, the number of
elementary school-aged children steadily declined in the last decade.
Our stock of children was so depleted that nearby Brookline Elementary
School shuttered its doors and merged with Newfane Elementary. And we’re
not alone; my town’s story aligns with a statewide trend.

you might think these stats spell doom for Vermont’s vitality – that
we’ll subsist on prune juice and Matlock reruns until our little state
shrivels up and fades away. I don’t think so.

I’m 31 years old,
not exactly a spring chicken, but not an old bird either. My wife is 32,
and together we are raising a 2-year-old daughter. Living two doors
down from us is a family with four children, ranging from 8 to 2 years
old. Next to them, a vibrant couple with two kids in elementary school.
Five doors down lives a couple with an infant. You see the pattern.

my vantage point, Vermont is looking pretty young. I know you’re
thinking, "C’mon , Luke. You’re just one guy with a skewed viewpoint."
And you’d be right, except new facts are coming to light. The national
census was in 2010, the same year Newfane’s elementary schools merged.
But since the merger, our elementary school population has been rising.
In 2013 the student body size is now back to where it was in 1997.

possible that a recovering economy is allowing families to move back to
the area. Perhaps an improved local school system is coaxing more
parents to send their children to public schools. These are theories.

most of what I’m telling you is anecdotal evidence of Vermont’s
rebounding youthfulness. Census data is census data, and my hyper-local
research is probably not a burgeoning trend. But I’m optimistic about
Vermont’s future. My wife and I welcomed our second daughter into the
world a few weeks ago. That’s one more young’un with a Vermont-stamped
birth certificate. It’s probably not enough to bump us past Florida to
claim a younger state position, but I like to think I’m doing my part.

the way, since Vermont is the second oldest state, you’re probably
wondering which is the oldest. That would be Maine, where, funnily
enough, my friend living just outside Portland recently gave birth to a
baby girl. She and her husband are already talking about a second child.
Better watch out, Florida. We’re coming for you.

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