Bursting or Confirming Common Idaho Stereotypes

Many people in the United States do not know anything about Idaho and many who do have misconstrued ideas about Idaho, her history, and the people who call her home. Many different stereotypes about Idaho have classified people who live in this beautiful state. Some are true, yes but many stereotypes could not be farther from the true aspects and attributes of Idaho.

Idaho….. what state is that in?

To those of you who have been confused in the past, Idaho is not IN a state, Idaho IS a state. Idaho was first discovered in 1805 by Lewis and Clark. Their first interaction with Idaho was the Lemhi Pass where they made it their home while documenting information about Idaho’s wildlife. Once it was explored, Idaho became a popular location for fur trappers and for many years was only inhabited by Native Americans and fur trappers.

In the beginning of Idaho’s modern history, it was simply part of Oregon territory. The first populated establishment in Idaho was Fort Boise in 1834, which became Boise City in 1864. Four years earlier, the first settlement in Idaho was established in 1860. When gold was discovered that same year, population in Idaho began to increase drastically. Once the gold ran out, lumbering became the main exportation of Idaho as well as mining silver, lead, garnet, phosphate rock, vanadium, zinc, and mercury. Eventually, Idaho’s exportation moved to agriculture as well.

Idaho became a home to many and in 1890, Idaho officially became the 43rd state of the United States.

Idaho….. they have potatoes right?

Indeed. The most important crop to Idaho’s economy is potato crops. Every year, more than 320,000 acres in Idaho are used to grow potatoes. In 2011, an average acre would produce 398 hundredweight (1 hundredweight = 100 lbs) in potatoes, which would be a LOT of potatoes.

Statewide, potatoes give $550 million--$700 million to Idaho’s economy annually. About 30% of russet type potatoes grown in the U.S. are from Idaho. Potatoes are not only important to Idaho, but the rest of the United States as well. An average American will consume 140 lbs of potatoes a year.

Yes, there are a lot of potato farms in Idaho, but there are a lot of cities as well. In fact, most of the population lives in big city, not a farm. Some of the bigger cities in Idaho are Boise with population of 205,671, Nampa with population of 81,557, Meridian with a population of 75,092, and Idaho falls with a population of 56, 813 (2010 Census).

Idaho…. pretty much an ice block?

Idaho does have cold winters but it also has beautiful springs, warms summers, and breathtaking autumns. Idaho’s climate is very diverse. Even though Idaho is more than 300 miles from the Pacific coast, its climate is still affected by the maritime influence. Winter especially is affected in humidity, cloud cover, and precipitation. Because of the moisture in the air, the temperature is actually higher in the winter than one would expect.

The average temperature in Boise, Idaho in mid-winter is 31 degrees Fahrenheit. The summers have are drastically different with the average temperature in July being 74 degrees Fahrenheit, an average high of 90 and an average low of 57.7.

Idaho….. they have NO culture?

Idaho is full of culture including many music opportunities, other performing arts, history, and visual arts.

For example, the state capital, Boise, has several opportunities to experience the culture of Idaho. As far as music goes, the most common way that Idaho has culture is through the Boise Philharmonic, which has been filling Idaho with music for many years. With 70 members and years of musical experience, the Boise Philharmonic travels across Idaho as well as the United States. There are also many different community choirs in Idaho for people to join including Cantus Youth Choirs and Common Ground Community Choirs.

Boise is full of artwork as well. Visiting places like the Boise Art Museum is a compelling way to learn about the history of Idaho’s visual arts.

Idaho….. somewhere in the Midwest?

Idaho is not Ohio or Illinois. It is located in the northwest, not the Midwest. Bordering Washington and Oregon on its west side, Idaho is about 350 miles from the Pacific Coast. Idaho’s eastern border states are Montana and Wyoming. The southern border states are Nevada and Utah.

Idaho… no education?

There are several institutions to receive education past high school for Idahoans. In Idaho, there are nine state institutions. Out of those nine, five are two year colleges,  including College of Southern Idaho, College of Western Idaho, Eastern Idaho Technical College, McCall College, and North Idaho College. Four advanced educational institutions are four year institutions including Boise State University, Idaho State University, Lewis-Clark State College, and University of Idaho. Additionally, there are 5 four year private institutions in Idaho. These include  Brigham Young University- Idaho, the College of Idaho, Northwest Nazarene University, Boise Bible College, and New Saint Andrews College. Thousands of Idahoans take advantage of the high-quality advanced education in Idaho.

Idaho, like most states in the U.S., has many stereotypes associated with it. While some of these notions may have some basis in reality, not all of them are true.









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