In case you were unaware, 2020 is a Census year. As a refresher, a census, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is a periodic governmental enumeration of population.


The U.S. has taken a Federal Population Census every 10 years since 1709.


A census itself is not an American invention, people have been collecting population data throughout all of recorded history across many different cultures. There’s even a reference to a census the Roman Empire conducted in the Bible. Nonetheless, the U.S. Census is important to how our country functions because it tells us the foundational makeup of our citizenry.


The U.S. Census is important not just because it tallies and records the population of the U.S. and its territories, but also because it is the basis on which many services, funds, resources and other necessities are provided to communities. The information also helps determine congressional representation and to draw state legislative districts.


The process takes almost a year to complete beginning in rural Alaska in January. Over the next several weeks, the rest of the country will start to receive information about the Census and an invitation to participate, a questionnaire will be made available which can be filled out online, by phone or by mail. The goal is to have every U.S. household accurately counted by Census Day on April 1. Census Takers will then begin visiting households who didn’t respond.


We highly encourage you to partake in the process. It’s as democratic as voting or serving on a jury.


Participation is critical for many reasons, but especially in states like Kansas where the populations are mostly in rural settings. An accurate count could be the difference in where funding for highways, schools and hospitals is allocated or who decides these things for that matter. For rural communities, these projects might not be able to be funded without that extra cash. So please participate.


As the conversation often leads to privacy concerns, we should keep in mind that Census will never ask for your Social Security Number — remember the government already has that information if they need it because they issued it — bank information; or for money or donations of any kind.


The U.S. Census Bureau, which is part of the Department of Commerce and responsible for conducting the count has set up a comprehensive website, 2020census.gov, to answer any questions you might possibly have. No matter how vague or specific — they have an answer.


Take a moment to check it out, ask questions or get more information about the process.


Finally, one last time for good measure, please participate in the 2020 Census when the time comes.