This paper focuses on the challenges of counting people living in rural communities and regions as part of the Decennial Census and other official data sources, followed by discussion of lessons learned from efforts to develop innovative solutions. Census data are used for political apportionment and districting, funding eligibility and allocations, development planning, and research on a range of topics influencing quality of life and well-being. Undercounts in rural areas will have particularly negative impacts on resource availability and contribute to downward spirals. These challenges are addressed through literature and analysis of data on past census participation and estimates of hard to count areas. The paper then shifts to use of these data in conjunction with community engagement strategies to help mobilize and organize local assets to do outreach, education, and promotion for Census participation. Diverse efforts around the 2020 Census in Mississippi are discussed as illustrative cases for improving the statistical representation of rural people.