Nebraska Community Foundation (NCF,, in partnership with the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Center for Public Affairs Research (CPAR), surveyed 715 middle and high school students between January and May for the 2022 Nebraska Youth Survey.

Building on a trend from previous surveys, respondents expressed a strong preference for small communities. Safety, good schools, and proximity to family continue to be the top characteristics of their ideal community, and the vast majority (71%) said there is no stigma associated with returning to your hometown as an adult.

Though Nebraska youth seem to not see social downsides to returning home, results suggest they are susceptible to misperceptions about a lack of career or professional upsides to living in Greater Nebraska. Healthcare (22%), agriculture (14%) and education (8%) represented the top three most desirable industries among respondents, but there seems to be a disconnect between what they want to do and what they perceive to be available where they live. Of student respondents, 48% said if they were to not live in their community as an adult the main reason would be job or business opportunities elsewhere.

The results of the Youth Survey begin to reveal the priorities, values, concerns, and desires of these individuals as well as factors that may influence their decision to return to or remain in Greater Nebraska in the future. The hope is that this data may serve as a resource for NCF’s network of 1,500 community volunteers as well as other organizations and entities that share an interest in people attraction.

For more information on Nebraska Community Foundation’s 2022 Nebraska Youth Survey, visit To learn more about the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Center for Public Affairs Research and access many data resources, go to