Bush planes, snowmobiles and dog sleds, oh my! 2020 Census counts its first person in rural Alaska

Written by: Sarah Hughes
Date Posted: January 24, 2020

After years of preparation, the 2020 Census count officially kicked off this week in Toksook Bay, Alaska. Lizzie Chimiugak Nenguryarr, age 90, was the first person to be counted in this decennial census. U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham flew into Alaska to help conduct the interview with Lizzie.

Lizzie Chimiugak Nenguryarr, the first person counted in the 2020 Census. Photo credit: Claire Harbage/NPR

Lizzie Chimiugak Nenguryarr, the first person counted in the 2020 Census. Photo credit: Claire Harbage/NPR

Although Coloradans won’t receive their invitations to complete the 2020 Census questionnaire until mid-March, the U.S. Census Bureau begins counting some Alaskan villages in January because these remote areas are easier to access when the ground is frozen. Census Bureau workers will use bush planes, snowmobiles and dog sleds to visit every household in these communities and make sure every resident is counted in the decennial census.

Making sure that the 2020 Census counts everyone in Colorado is vital to our state’s future. Each year, Colorado receives billions of dollars in federal funding based on our census population counts, and much of this funding goes toward programs that serve kids and families. Colorado households will begin receiving invitations to complete their 2020 Census questionnaires on March 12. Most households will receive their invitation by mail, but households in rural areas where mail is not delivered directly to homes will have information left at their front door by a Census Bureau worker. The 2020 Census questionnaire can be filled out online, by phone or by mail and takes less than 10 minutes to complete. Keep an eye out for your opportunity to be counted!

Click here to read NPR’s coverage of the 2020 Census kickoff in Alaska, and click here for a toolkit with ways you can help promote an accurate count of kids in your community this year.

Sarah Hughes

About Sarah Hughes

Sarah Hughes is Vice President of Research Initiatives for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. In this role, she leads the organization’s research and data analysis efforts, including the development and publication of the annual KIDS COUNT in Colorado! report, and provides research and data support to inform and advance the Children’s Campaign’s policy agenda. She also co-chairs the organization’s internal Equity Team. Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign, Sarah worked in communications and spent several years working and volunteering with kids in various capacities.