Matthew Smith

3 Reasons Iowa Is Not The Wasteland The Rest Of America Makes It Out To Be

Five months ago, I moved from my tiny hometown in Iowa to the Seattle area.

Since then, I've been spending my days fending off sarcastic remarks when I introduce myself as an Iowa gal. Most people aren't actually trying to be mean and genuinely don't know anything about the state of Iowa because they've probably never been anywhere near the Midwest (or only driven through it).

Have you ever noticed that during movies or TV shows, when the writers need to bash a state in the US, it almost always winds up being Iowa? Sometimes they'll throw in Nebraska, but that's it. Iowa is usually the chosen Midwest state to make fun of. Unfortunately, I've found that's the case even without the media, especially for people who've never even been to the state.

I'm an Iowa gal who left Iowa, and I won't be moving back. Most people assume that's because I hate Iowa or because Iowa is a horrible place to live, but that's not even close to the truth. In fact, Iowa is my favorite place on the planet and will always be my favorite place to visit. I was just ready to travel; I was ready to explore and see the world.

Even though I'm ready to spend my life sightseeing and backpacking, I will never fall in love with a place like I love Iowa. I might not want to spend the rest of my life in Iowa, but I'll sure as heck spend the rest of my life trying to convince everyone just how great the state really is. Here are three reasons Iowa is a wonderful state with a lot to offer:

1. Yes, for the love of  all things good in the world, we have electricity, running water and Internet.

I had a friend who went to college out of state, and when she introduced herself to others, she was literally asked if there is Internet in Iowa. I've never personally had someone ask me this, but people do like to pretend like Iowa is stuck in some sort of time warp. Sure, the rural communities aren't quite as current on fashion as everyone else in the world, but I'd challenge you to go work on a farm for a day in a crop top and flip flops and see if you really want to wear it the next day.

It's true that the rural communities might seem a little behind the rest of the world. They're filled with people who care less about fashion and are infatuated with country music. But maybe that has more to do with the lifestyle of Midwesterners and less to do with being technologically behind the rest of the country. These things might make Iowa unique, but it doesn't lower the quality of life or make the state a laughing cornstalk.

2. If you like food at all, you better be thanking Iowa for all of its hard work and not tearing it down for being a boring geographical destination.

One of the biggest misconceptions about Iowa is that everyone from Iowa is a farmer, which is absolutely not true. Agriculture does make up around 20 percent of the jobs in Iowa. However, only about 5 percent of Iowans farm, but each American farmer feeds up to 154 people per day .

There are many, many of other states with plenty of farming of various kinds, and all kinds of farming are important to make the world work like it does. With that said, Iowa is one of the most agriculturally efficient states in the country, and it's probably the state most well known for its farming.

Most people know or at least assume that Iowa has the highest corn production of any other state in the country, but they don't know that Iowa also has the highest hog and egg production in the country. Let's not forget that Iowa falls second in the country in soybean production and ranks fourth in the cattle market. Although ethanol isn't food, it is made out of corn, which causes Iowa to lead the nation in ethanol production as well.

As the Hawkeyes say, "America Needs Farmers,"and whether or not you plan on visiting the Midwest state anytime soon, you should probably start thanking the hardworking farmers that reside in Iowa, rather than bashing their lifestyle.

3. People assume the Midwest — especially Iowa — is stupid, but there are no statistics to back it up.

Did you know that the national percentage of high school students to graduate and receive and diploma in four years in the United States is 81 percent? Well, Iowa's graduation rate for the 2015 year was 9 percent above the national average at 90 percent, which is the highest graduation rate in the country. According to the 2009 census, the state of Iowa falls sixth in the nation for people over the age of 25 with a high school degree at 90.5 percent of the population.

Not only are Iowa high schools doing great in comparison with the rest of the country, but the national American College Testing (ACT) Program was developed by a University of Iowa professor who based the new test on the Iowa Test of Educational Development (ITED) that's administered to Iowa high school students every year.

While the high schools in Iowa are clearly doing well compared to the rest of the country, the 60 colleges and universities in Iowa are certainly worth mentioning. The University of Northern Iowa is ranked 18th as one of the best colleges in the Midwest. Iowa State University has nine graduate programs in the top 25, all of which are engineering related.

In addition, ISU is also ranked eighth in the world in agricultural programs. The University of Iowa has 24 graduate programs ranked in the top 25 with a number one writing program and a number one speech-language pathology program. Not to mention, the University of Iowa is ranked 34th out of the 629 public universities in the nation and 82nd out of all 2,474 four-year universities in the nation.

If you read all of the incredible things about Iowa and you're still not convinced that it's a state worth praise, go visit sometime. Go to Iowa and spend time with an Iowan who will show you the ropes, and maybe you'll learn to love it.

In college, I brought my friend from Chicago to a bonfire in the middle of Iowa. While it might have been a culture shock to her, it was one of the best nights we ever had. She fell in love with Iowa and finally understood why my heart will forever reside in my tiny hometown.