Sheridan is a great place to live. We hear that statement over and over again. For those of us who have lived here a long time, or for those who grew up here, it isn’t a phrase that is difficult to believe.
For newcomers to the community, though, it can be tough.
Recently, I attended the Wyoming Press Association conference in Casper. One of the themes that came out of a newsroom roundtable was how difficult it is to not only recruit young people to the state, but how much harder it is to keep them in our communities.
I moved here more than seven years ago. I got lucky. I moved in with a young professional who was born and raised in Sheridan. She went away to college and had come home to make a career. So, when I moved in, she integrated me into her circle of friends. I met a lot of people quickly. I was almost automatically included in a social group because of my roommate.
For most people, though, that is not how the move to Wyoming goes. Many young people move to Sheridan on their own and find apartments on their own. They move here for work, but struggle to find where they “fit in” in Sheridan’s social scene. There are a lot of things going on in the community, but it is often difficult to become integrated. In part, this is because many in Sheridan have their circle of friends. They aren’t “unfriendly” but it isn’t easy for those who move to our community.
This can be a tough town.
When I first moved here, Forward Sheridan used to have a young professionals group that hosted events and encouraged young people to mix, mingle and get to know each other. The group was called “HYPE,” which stood for Helping Young Professionals Engage.
There are other groups in Sheridan that engage young people, but some seem to have a niche of community service, political engagement or other ideals. HYPE, from what I remember, strictly sought to engage young professionals and give them a spot they could feel welcome. Engagement looked like mixers and social gatherings. They were low-pressure and welcoming.
I would love to see an organization like that formed once again. When I first moved here, it helped me meet friends and other people my age.
I sought those friendships because while I adored the people my roommate introduced me to, I sought my own circles too. Had I not formed my own circle of friends, I’m not sure I would have stuck it out in Sheridan.
We need to do a better job of engaging the young adults in our community.