Assessing Rural Communities through Youth Photography

Renee A. Oscarson, Mary T. Bowne, Debra A. DeBates, Julie A. Bell, Sherri S. Bair


Despite frequent concerns about youth and young adult migration from rural to urban areas, most measures used to assess youth in rural community research have been developed by adults. Accurate understanding of youth community perceptions necessitates youth input into the research process. The participatory research strategy described here, using photography to describe community, enables youth to define community and identify what they value about their communities. Photographs and explanations of the photographs indicated that youth value places (schools, churches, as well as locations unique to communities) and people from those communities. Photovoice, photography-based participatory-action research, is a feasible and engaging method for obtaining youth perspectives on community issues. Further, Photovoice may be adapted to the needs of different age groups and situations.

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