Rural by Choice: Tyler Vacha
Native Nebraskan Tyler Vacha used to commute from Des Moines, Iowa to Lyons, Nebraska, where he works for the Center for Rural Affairs. Then Vacha and his wife decided to move to Lyons, which is just 40 minutes from the town where he grew up. Vacha says he and his family enjoy knowing their neighbors, experiencing the safety of a small town and being able to walk almost anywhere. They plan to stay for a long time.
Daily Yonder: Tell us who you are, and how you spend your time.
Tyler Vacha: I grew up on a farm three miles from Howells, Nebraska. We custom fed up to 900 head of hogs, had a herd of fifteen mostly registered angus cattle, and had chickens, both laying hens and broilers. Growing up I was very active in 4-H and FFA. After college, I moved to Des Moines, Iowa to work for Farm Safety for Just Kids, and experience the big city life along with many of my collegiate friends. I met my wife, Melissa there. We have two boys together, a 2 year old and a 5 month old, who take up most of our time. When I do have free time, I enjoy golfing, hunting, fishing, singing, reading and woodworking.
DY: Where do you live now?
TV: I live in a picturesque town, called Lyons, in Nebraska. Like most small towns it has a historic, brick main street, filled with classic storefronts from a by-gone era, that leave you wondering about how many and what kind of businesses the buildings have housed, and how magnificent those buildings must have looked in their prime. Trees line the streets, and even in the dead of winter, you often hear the voices of children running around outside, safe within the confines of our town.
Standing tall and full of pride, in the center of town is the quintessential rural water tower, which hosts our school colors and announces our presence to travelers on highway 77. The train tracks still run through town, and six times a day, announced by a whistle trains rumble through.
A walker’s dream, the entire town is flat, not a hill to be seen. You can easily travel by foot from anywhere in the town to our city park which features small fishing ponds, a dilapidated fountain, a plethora of children’s playground equipment and our brand new swimming pool, which will be filled for the first time this summer.
DY: How did you come to live in Lyons, Nebraska?
TV: My family and I moved from Des Moines, Iowa to Lyons about six months ago, to be closer to my job here at the Center for Rural Affairs, which I had been commuting to for about a year. My wife and I are both in our early 30’s. We’ve built a new house here in town, and plan to be here well into our golden years.
DY: In what ways is Lyons similar to your hometown of Howells, Nebraska?
TV: I’ve experienced life in a lot of different towns. My hometown, Howells, Nebraska, had a population of about six hundred people, and before re-locating to Lyons, my family and I had a brief stay in Snyder, Nebraska, which housed about three hundred residents. Like Lyons, both of these small towns were quiet, relaxed places, where a person could take the time to enjoy the little things in life.
Lyons is much like those towns, but thanks to a constant flow of new residents coming and going, seems to have an openness about it that makes even a pass through customer at the gas station feel welcome, that is more reminiscent of my college town, Storm Lake, Iowa, that houses a population of nearly eleven thousand.
Some of the things I like best about Lyons is that I know my neighbors; a grocery store, gas station, restaurant, park, school, and any other amenity you need is within walking distance; and I know my kids can go outside and play without big city risks. None of these were true when I lived in Des Moines.
DY: What are the drawbacks of living in a rural place?
TV: Small towns are great at providing everything you need, but perhaps not everything you want. Restaurant and shopping selections are limited. Going out to the movies, participating in adult sports, and other forms of finding entertainment seems usually requires a good chunk of drive time.
DY: What’s your favorite thing about living in Lyons?
TV: It feels like home.