Research/Quality of Life/

Rural Community Engagement & Leadership Program

December 5, 2017
Teaching & Engagement, 2014      Summary The goal of this project was to develop a course where undergraduate students would engage in facilitating a service learning project in rural communities within 60 miles of Lincoln. A partnership between …

Teaching & Engagement, 2014


 

 

Summary

The goal of this project was to develop a course where undergraduate students would engage in facilitating a service learning project in rural communities within 60 miles of Lincoln. A partnership between Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication (ALEC) at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and Civic Nebraska (formerly Nebraskans for Civic Reform) was created to support the project.

Undergraduate students engaged with rural middle and high school students to identify issues in the students’ community, leading to the creation of a service learning project to address those pre-identified issues. This project built the leadership capacity of rural middle and high school students and increased their ability to positively impact their respective communities while also filling a community need.

Impacts

One of the major outcomes of this project was the impact ALEC 496 had on Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication (ALEC) academic programs.  The creation and refinement ALEC 496 led to formally adopting the course, now titled ALEC 422-Facilitation & Program Planning, in several academic programs. The process for approving a course starts with the faculty in ALEC, then the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.  At these levels, the course received significant support and was ultimately recommended for approval. The course was approved by the university in April of 2016. The support and approval provide evidence that this course is meeting a need for students at UNL. The course is now a requirement for the Agricultural Education – Leadership Option major, and is included as an option for students in both the Leadership & Communication and the Leadership & Entrepreneurship minors.

During the two-year project, 21 undergraduate students worked with 142 middle and high school students in 12 classrooms to identify issues in the students’ community, leading to creation of service learning projects that addressed those pre-identified issues.

Several promising opportunities have been identified for future work. First, a second RFI award was earned for Research & Engagement. The purpose of this collaborative research study is to develop a psychometrically sound measure of youth leadership (including its developmental aspect) and examine its relationship to community outcomes, such as retention, civic engagement, entrepreneurial activity, and community attachment.

Additionally, this project led to the expansion of the Rural Community Action Project (RCAP), and a continued commitment from all the partners to find a path to ensure the RCAP program is sustainable.

 

Project Team

  • L.J. McElravy (PI), University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communication
  • Gina Matkin (co-PI), University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communication

 

Partners

  • Civic Nebraska (formerly Nebraskans for Civic Reform)
  • Conestoga Jr/Sr High School
  • Johnson-Brock Middle School
  • Johnson County Central High School
  • Nebraska City High School
  • Norris High School
  • Raymond Central School
  • Weeping Water Middle School

 

Publications

  • Hastings, L. J., McElravy, L.J., Sunderman, H., & Bartak, J., (2017, October). Building a Theory of Positive Youth Leadership Identity. International Leadership Association Global Conference, Brussels, Belgium.
  • Road Safety – Syracuse, May 4, 2016

 

Presentations

  • International Leadership Association Global Conference
    Building a Theory of Positive Youth Leadership Identity
    October, 2017 | Brussels, Belgium
  • RFI Rural Regional Forum
    RCAP: Rural Community Action Project
    September 27, 2016 | North Platte, NE
  • Rural Futures Institute National Conference
    Serving Tecumseh: Restroom Renovations
    October 21-23, 2015 | Lincoln, NE
  • Rural Futures Institute National Conference
    Giving Brock a Voice
    October 21-23, 2015 | Lincoln, NE
  • Rural Futures Institute National Conference
    Celebrating Brock: A Town Forgotten
    October 21-23, 2015 | Lincoln, NE
  • Rural Futures Institute National Conference
    Rural Civic Action Program: Nebraska City
    October 21-23, 2015 | Lincoln, NE

 

Media Coverage

Civic Nebraska Blog
IANR Growing Nebraska Magazine, news article, page 30, 2015

 

Contact: L.J. McElravy, lj.mcelravy@unl.edu

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The Great Question Challenge

December 5, 2017
Teaching & Engagement, 2014 Summary Rural communities in the Great Plains are subject to many of the same challenges confronting urban communities on a global scale. These communities are uniquely positioned to identify global issues in their local area and …

Teaching & Engagement, 2014


Summary

Rural communities in the Great Plains are subject to many of the same challenges confronting urban communities on a global scale. These communities are uniquely positioned to identify global issues in their local area and generate ideas to solve these problems by utilizing one of our greatest resources –our youth. The Great Question Challenge is designed to empower high school students to create local solutions for a global issue.

Each year, the Great Question Challenge planning team will identify a global issue that affects rural people and places. For 2014, the Great Question Challenge revolved around food insecurity. About 15% of all U.S. households are food insecure, and in Nebraska, nearly 100,000 children are unsure of when they will eat next. This challenge will mobilize students to identify how to alleviate hunger and increase nutrition in their hometowns.

Impacts

High school students across Nebraska, with an emphasis on 4-H and FFA members, were recruited. Students formed teams of 3-6 individuals and proposed a solution to implement in their local community for The Great Question Challenge. Teams competed at the 2014 Nebraska State Fair and the top 11 teams were awarded $500 each to implement their ideas in their local communities.

Project Team

  • Shane Potter (PI), University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Nebraska 4-H
  • Tom Field (Co-PI), University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program
  • Mathew Habrock, Dupont Pioneer
  • Jordyn Lechtenberg, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Graduate Student

Partners

  • Ainsworth
  • Blair
  • Clarkson
  • Curtis
  • Exeter
  • Nelson
  • Newman Grove
  • Northbend
  • Red Cloud
  • Rushville
  • Sidney

Media Coverage

Two new contests at 2012 State Fair provide real world experience | UNL Newsroom

 

Contact: Thomas Field, tfield2@unl.edu

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The Nebraska Hayseed Project

December 5, 2017
Teaching & Engagement, 2014 Summary The Nebraska Hayseed project was a creative transdisciplinary civic engagement and community research effort bringing the Lied Center for Performing Arts, the College of Journalism and the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR) at …

Teaching & Engagement, 2014


Summary

The Nebraska Hayseed project was a creative transdisciplinary civic engagement and community research effort bringing the Lied Center for Performing Arts, the College of Journalism and the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR) at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln together. The goal of this unique collaboration that united art and agriculture was the fact that both arts and agriculture are inherently process based and essential to the quality of life in rural Nebraska.

Impacts

An undergraduate course was developed and co-taught by faculty from Journalism and IANR and built around oral history collection. Undergraduate students conducted oral history interviews in rural communities which engaged statewide conversations about agriculture through the arts. The collected stories were used to create an original theatrical screenplay that toured the state. This project celebrated our state’s rural communities through performing arts, a collection of oral histories and an exploration of Nebraska farm life.

The Nebraska Hayseed project was constructed to create a platform where farm families can openly speak about their life experiences. In addition to the book published from this project, the oral history transcripts from the interviews were donated to the Nebraska State Historical Society for permanent archiving.

Project Team

  • Petra Wahlqvist (PI), University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lied Center for Performing Arts
  • Mary Kay Quinlan (co-PI), University of Nebraska–Lincoln, College of Journalism and Mass Communications
  • Deepak Keshwani (co-PI), University of Nebraska–Lincoln, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources
  • Becky Key Boesen (co-PI, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lied Center for Performing Arts

Partners

  • Julie Jacobson, North Platte Concert Association
  • Billy Estes, Midwest Theater, Scottsbluff
  • The Golden Husk
  • Nebraska State Historical Society

 

Publications

  • Boesen, B., Keshwani, D., Quinlan, M. K., and Wahlqvist, P. (2017). “Pioneer Farms: A Century of Change.”

(To request a free copy of the culminating publication “Pioneer Farms: A Century of Change,” which contains excerpts from the oral history interviews, please contact Petra Wahlqvist.)

Contact: Petra Wahlqvist, pwahlqvist2@unl.edu

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Developing A Model for “Quality of Life”

December 5, 2017
Research & Engagement, 2015 Summary This project is designed to: Examine the factors that are relevant in determining “quality of life” (QOL) among ethnic minority populations in rural communities; and Develop educational tools that will help community responders in integrating …

Research & Engagement, 2015


Summary

This project is designed to:

  • Examine the factors that are relevant in determining “quality of life” (QOL) among ethnic minority populations in rural communities; and
  • Develop educational tools that will help community responders in integrating findings into their work to better respond to the needs of rural minorities.

The study involves focus groups and surveys of rural ethnic minorities, as well as interviews of key informants in five regions across Nebraska. The ultimate long-term goal of the project is to understand and improve the well being of minorities in rural Nebraska, consequently increasing the likelihood of their retention and their active contribution to the economic, social, health, and overall vitality of rural communities.

 

Impacts

Qualitative research data generated from focus groups and key informant interviews was analyzed to determine thematic patterns and to help guide the quantitative data plans. After initial data analysis of archival data (e.g., census, CDC data) was completed, publications and other information for dissemination (e.g., GIS maps, fact sheets) were created that have been used in presentations to depict various aspects of diversity and inequity. This includes such aspects as geographical spread with regard to income, mapping of number/percentage of ethnic minorities by county, and others. Some of these maps have already been used by various entities within Extension (e.g., in a grant application).

Knowledge generated from and analyzed in this project were utilized in the successful application for additional funding from USDA to continue research related to youth retention in rural communities, including quality of life factors.

 

Project team

  • Maria Rosario T. de Guzman (PI), University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Child, Youth & Family Studies
  • Rodrigo Cantarero (Co-PI), University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Community and Regional Planning
  • Jill Goedeken (Co-PI), University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Nebraska Extension
  • Evan Choi, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Child, Youth & Family Studies
  • Jackie Guzman (Co-PI), University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Nebraska Extension
  • Soo-Young Hong (Co-PI), University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Child, Youth & Family Studies
  • Lee Sherry (Co-PI), University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Nebraska Extension
  • Yan Ruth Xia (Co-PI), University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Child, Youth & Family Studies

 

Partners

  • Randy Cantrell, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Agricultural Economics
  • Gustavo Carlo, University of Missouri, Human Development & Family Studies
  • Miguel Carranza, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Sociology
  • David Drozd, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Center for Public Affairs Research
  • Platte Valley Literacy Association
  • Asian Cultural and Community Center
  • RMC Research and Central Regional Educational Laboratory at Marzano Research
  • Office of Minority Health, Department of Health and Human Services

 

Publications

  • Taylor, S., Garcia, A., de Guzman, M., Cantarero, R., et al, “Exploring Conceptions of ‘Quality of Life’ in Rural Ethnic Minorities”, Paper presentation at the Society for Cross Cultural Research Conference, Las Vegas, NV (2018).
  • Cantarero, R., de Guzman, M. R. T., Taylor, S., & Hong, S-H. (accepted). (Mis)Communicating with GIS mapping: Choosing units of representation (Part A). Journal of Extension. (In progress).
  • Cantarero, R., de Guzman, M. R. T., Taylor, S., Hong, S-H, & Choi, E. (accepted). (Mis)Communicating with GIS mapping: Data cut offs and other considerations (Part B).  Journal of Extension. (In progress).

Presentations

  • Society for Cross Cultural Research Conference
    Exploring Conceptions of ‘Quality of Life’ in Rural Ethnic Minorities
    February 21-24, 2018 | Las Vegas, NV
  • Society for Cross Cultural Research Conference
    Mapping Quality of Life in Nebraska: Nebraska’s Migration Rates
    February 21-24, 2018 | Las Vegas, NV
  • Society for Cross Cultural Research Conference
    Mapping Quality of Life in Nebraska: Population Distribution by Race, Ethnicity, and Age
    February 21-24, 2018 | Las Vegas, NV

Awards

To extend the work of this project, the PI, in collaboration with two other RFI-funded projects – one focused on youth entrepreneurship (Kim, de Guzman) and another focused on systems-thinking and STEM (Guru, de Guzman et al.), applied for a USDA-AFRI grant that draws elements from the 3 RFI projects. The proposal “Leveraging Community Connections, Local Issues, and Youth High Tech Entrepreneurship Education to Nurture Rural Economic Opportunities” was funded in 2018 in the amount of $493,560. Details >>

 

Contact: Maria Rosario T. de Guzman, mguzman2@unl.edu

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Art at Cedar Point

December 5, 2017
Teaching & Engagement, 2016 Summary Art at Cedar Point is a transdisciplinary program which blends art and science through undergraduate field courses and artist residencies at Cedar Point Biological Station in western Nebraska. This innovative project will allow students to …

Teaching & Engagement, 2016


Summary

Art at Cedar Point is a transdisciplinary program which blends art and science through undergraduate field courses and artist residencies at Cedar Point Biological Station in western Nebraska. This innovative project will allow students to experience the unique ecosystems and communities of rural western Nebraska and showcase the potential for artists working in rural areas by developing the only Artist in Residence program in the region. Get more details >

Impacts

The original project of Art at Cedar Point has developed into a multifaceted and cross disciplinary art experience through programing for art students, children, professional artists and rural communities in Western Nebraska.  This unique collaboration between the UNL School of Art, Art History & Design, the UNL Biological Sciences Cedar Point Biological Research Station, and the Ogallala Public Schools is strong and will be sustained beyond the scope of our Rural Futures Teaching and Engagement grant. We have been fortunate through the grant period of 2 years in developing these relationships for creating new visual art and creative writing by artists at all levels, from throughout the region, held among the science researchers and students at CPBS, which gives evidence of shared interests in nature and place, creative interpretation and problem solving, current ecological issues, and experiential learning.

Hannah Demma, program coordinator, continues to develop the web materials for the program on the UNL website and on social media; she actively recruited students for the summer 2018 academic class with classroom visits, PowerPoint presentations, and personal communications; she coordinated and promoted the Artist in Residence program and established the scheduling and communication with 11 artists and writers for summer 2018; she was on site at CPBS in June 2018 to launch the Art Adventure Summer camp for area children, and to coordinate with the student teachers. She works directly with Professor Kunc, and CPBS Director Jon Garbisch to coordinate the student and AiR information, the summer camp, and for schedule planning. Demma continued to build local networks while on site in 2018, to discover how Art at Cedar Point can be responsive and valuable to the community, as well as sustainable over the long term.

UNL Professor of Art Santiago Cal taught ARTP 383, June 4-15, an upper-level studio art course: Making Your Mark: The Figure in Nature, from Prehistory to Today. Ten undergraduate students attended an intensive, two-week field course and explored artistic depictions of the figure in and on nature, as well as human impact onto nature. The students used a variety of processes, including drawing, painting, sculpture, photography and performance, to create works of art that investigated the subject in context to nature and place. Professor Cal engaged and coordinated field trips, critiques, slide presentations, group and individual discussions. Students participants were from a variety of majors: art, biochemistry, Spanish, philosophy, special education, journalism. Student enrollment was greatly enhanced also by the Baxa scholarship opportunity through CPBS. All students are eligible for this funding, through application, and 5 of the students did receive funding, covering their room & board costs.

 

Project Team

  • Karen Kunc (PI), Hixon-Lied College of Fine & Performing Arts, University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Partners

  • Ogallala Public School District
  • Nebraska Game and Parks
  • Lake McConaughy Visitor/Water Interpretive Center
  • Nebraska Art Teachers Association
  • Petrified Wood Art Museum in Ogallala, Neb.

Publications

  • ‘Art notes: Take your time viewing pieces in celebration of Slow Art Day’, by Andrea Kszystyniak / World-Herald staff writer for Omaha.com, Apr 9, 2015 http://bit.ly/2iBHrkE
  • ‘International Slow Art Day is April 11’, University of Nebraska School of Fine and Performing Arts website, http://bit.ly/2j2RKxb
  • Workday by Moe Beitiks for Rapid Pulse blog. http://rapidpulse.org/workday

 

Presentations

  • Virginia Tech University, Visiting Artist Lecture
    Art at Cedar Point
    2017 | Blacksburg, VA
  • Eureka! 2016 Nebraska Extension Conference
    Art at Cedar Point
    March 15-16, 2016 | Lincoln, NE
  • Joslyn Museum of Art, Artist Talk
    Art at Cedar Point
    2015 | Omaha, NE
  • Midwest Society for Photo Education Conference
    On Fruited Plains, Panel Discussion
    October 1-4, 2015 | Louisville, KY

Media Coverage

 

Contact: Karen Kunc, kkunc1@unl.edu

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Understanding Hispanics & Sense of Community

November 17, 2017
Teaching & Engagement, 2016 Summary This mixed methods research study will be conducted within two Nebraska counties to better understand the assets and the challenges associated with being Hispanic/Latino in rural Nebraska. This project addresses community concerns that were identified …

Teaching & Engagement, 2016


Summary

This mixed methods research study will be conducted within two Nebraska counties to better understand the assets and the challenges associated with being Hispanic/Latino in rural Nebraska. This project addresses community concerns that were identified during the 2015 East Central District comprehensive community health needs assessment. Six focus groups (three in each county) and a survey of at least 100 Hispanic/Latino individuals from each community will be conducted. A bilingual community report will be developed with community partners that includes actionable recommendations.

Impacts

This was the first study to describe sense of community, neighboring behaviors, participation in community life, discrimination, and life satisfaction among Hispanic immigrants in Nebraska. Six focus groups (three in each community) were conducted during March 2017 and involved 56 participants. The quantitative portion of the study included 206 participants, half from Schuyler and half from Columbus.

Major findings of the study include:

  • Hispanics in rural areas want to feel a sense of community with other community members, and emotional connection was rated the highest of the four components of sense of community.
  • Participants understood “community” to be more than a geographic place. They believed that community meant a feeling of belonging, unity, acceptance, and a willingness to help others.
  • Study participants had actively participated in associations, made financial or in-kind donations, talked with other people about problems or issues, and volunteered for community and charitable organizations.
  • Most participants were satisfied with their lives and found their community to be peaceful, safe, and good for families.
  • Sense of community was significantly positively associated with community participation and life satisfaction both at the bivariate and multivariate levels.
  • Despite perceiving discrimination, Hispanic immigrant residents were satisfied with their lives; rated their health as excellent, good or very good; and felt welcome, comfortable, and safe in their current community.
  • Strong positive associations between life satisfaction, neighboring, and health. Neighborhoods and communities may affect reserve capacity. Environments that promote feeling welcome, safe, and having neighbors who watch out for each other could be a protective factor, strengthening Hispanic immigrants’ sense of resiliency and contributing to overall life satisfaction.

Crucial to the success of the project were relationships that the research team built with key community partners. They include AMWAY (group of local sellers), Chichualco Supermarket, Comité Latino de Schuyler (Latino Committee of Schuyler), El Centro Hispano de Columbus, Heartland Workers Center, La Gloria Restaurant, Latinoamerica Grocery, Pacific Window Tint LLC, Schuyler Public Library, St. Augustine Church, The Columbus Chamber of Commerce, The Platte Valley Literacy Association.

In addition to the significant findings of the research project, another success has been the student learning that has taken place through the two graduate students who have worked on the project. The Principal Investigator mentored the students and together they conceived the research questions, developed the survey instrument and focus group guide, brainstormed potential community partners, strategized on how to complete the project, and analyzed the data.

Activities in which the graduate students were involved during the project with the mentorship of the Principal Investigator included:

  • Conducted a literature review and developed a database of relevant literature.
  • Attended the Rural Futures Regional Summit in West Point in September of 2016.
  • Visited Schuyler and Columbus on several occasions and had meetings with community members and organizations looking to establish community partnerships and gather ideas for data that would be useful to community partners.
  • Developed and submitted an Institutional Review Board (IRB) application.
  • Developed the survey instrument
  • Conducted data collection using bilingual paper-and-pencil surveys
  • Attended some of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce’s “Engaging Immigrants” committee meetings
  • Created a database in SPSS and entered data from 206 surveys
  • Conducted a quantitative data analysis
  • Worked with communities to develop the focus group questions and guide
  • Revised the interview protocol to include the focus group component
  • Received training on focus group facilitation
  • Conducted three focus groups in Spanish in each community
  • Analyzed and contextualized the qualitative data that was obtained through the focus groups
  • Developed a written report including a bilingual executive summary to share with community partners
  • Attended the UNL Minority Health Disparities Initiative Conference on February of 2017
  • Wrote and submitted abstracts for conference presentations and conducted multiple posters and oral presentations at local and regional events

 

Project Team

  • Athena Ramos (PI), Center for Reducing Health Disparities, University of Nebraska Medical Center
  • Antonia Correa, Center for Reducing Health Disparities, University of Nebraska Medical Center
  • Natalia Trinidad, Center for Reducing Health Disparities, University of Nebraska Medical Center

 

Publications

  • Ramos, A.K., Carvajal, B., Leon, M., & Trinidad, N. (2017). Sense of community, participation, and life satisfaction among Hispanic immigrants in rural Nebraska. Kontakt, 19 e284-295. DOI: 10.1016/j.kontakt.2017.09.005

 

Presentations

  • Cambio de Colores Annual Conference
    Life Satisfaction, Neighboring, and Health: Findings from Hispanic Immigrants in Northeast Nebraska
    June 7, 2018 | Kansas City, MO
  • Cambio de Colores Annual Conference
    Understanding Hispanics and Sense of Community in Rural Northeast Nebraska
    June 15, 2017 | St. Louis, MO
  • Columbus Chamber of Commerce Meeting
    Preliminary Review: Understanding Hispanics and Sense of Community in Rural Northeast Nebraska
    June 15, 2017 | St. Louis, MO
  • UNMC College of Public Health Student Research Day
    Understanding Hispanics and Sense of Community in Rural Northeast Nebraska
    April 5, 2017 | Omaha, NE

 

Media Coverage

 

 

Contact: Athena Ramos, aramos@unmc.edu

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