Community Engagement Education Model

Teaching & Engagement, 2016


Summary

Many semester-long, service-learning projects realize immediate impact on community partners and service-learning students, yet this has not translated into long-term community impact. It is felt the short time frame of the fifteen-week semester coupled with the partner’s limited capacity and infrastructure to act on recommendations diminishes long-term impact. This two-year process will evaluate the ability to strengthen partnerships and develop capacity for the region’s residents by going beyond the semester time frame and including an expanded team that includes Nebraska Extension and community and professional experts and also extends the project time frame over multiple years with participation of multiple studios of students.

 

Impacts

PROJECT ONE: Regional Cultural Heritage Tourism, Discovering the Potential

Summary Process, Partners, Products and Outcomes for June 2016 – January 2019

This process began as an exploratory University of Nebraska–Lincoln undergraduate landscape architecture studio. The study sought to understand the ways to increase economic development through a more regional approach to cultural heritage tourism. The study area was established based on a series of user profiles and their interest in traveling a distance of two hours and spending up to three days experiencing a myriad of local resources including museums, public parks, golfing, restaurants, and so on.

A team of nine students collected information in the study area and discovered the wealth of interesting cultural, historic, and environmental resources. At a community meeting and based on this inventory, a group of community participants suggested that the project researchers explore a National Heritage Area. The students spent three weeks understanding the requirements associated with becoming a National Heritage Area (NHA). Through public-private partnerships, NHA entities support historic preservation, natural resource conservation, recreation, heritage tourism, and educational projects.

The NHA Ad Hoc Steering Committee approved Professor Kim Wilson’s request for a feasibility study in order to create a National Heritage Area in Red Cloud and surrounding communities. Currently a core NHA Steering Committee with representatives from Kansas and Nebraska is being formed to guide the feasibility study. The next steps include seeking funding from local and state funding sources in both Nebraska and Kansas and conducting more research on themes.

 

PROJECT TWO: Valentine, Places in Making

Summary of Process, Partners, Products and Outcomes for July 2017 – October 2018

Foundational to achieving CEEM project goals requires both an engaged NU Extension educator who has established a relationship with community and their leadership. We developed our partnerships and organized the project the last six months of 2017 in preparation for the 15-week spring 2018 semester studio where students would be involved in data collection and analysis to determine the potential for economic development associated with demographic renewal and placemaking. Activities included determining the general study area, organizational conference calls with primary partners, a site visit, and course development (content and data).

The partnership and initial Rural Community Prosperity Initiative research led to the submittal and award ($10,000 funding with $22,460 local matching). A proposal and budget were submitted for the National Endowment for the Arts Center for Rural Design to conduct a two-day workshop on October 9-10, 2018 for visioning Main Street, Valentine, NE. Working with People for Public Spaces (PPS), the project researchers will be engaging nationally renowned retail, urban design, and transportation experts to assist in conducting a community-based design charrette resulting in redesign and construction of Main Street in 2021. The award was one of only four communities across the U.S. selected for funding.

The students developed initial design proposals to be undertaken by Valentine and its citizens for a series of projects that support economic development and demographic renewal, including:  Main Street revitalization, City Park, Third Street Corridor Enhancement, Pedestrian Trail Network, Highway 20 East Corridor and Gateway, and Green Street Housing Development.

 

PROJECT THREE: Nebraska City Riverfront Development

Summary of Process and Partners, February – December 2018

The Community Prosperity Initiative research project established relationships with a cohort of six rural communities to explore the conditions that enable for a more prosperous future by: (1) understanding the economic opportunities that contribute to the creation of businesses, jobs and careers; (2) understanding the types and extent of placemaking to restore or build on community assets that support a high quality of life; and (3) understand how to attract and keeping people to achieve demographic renewal. Nebraska City, Nebraska was one of the communities who had been working on understanding both economic and the demographic renewal opportunities. Early in 2018 the Nebraska Community Foundation held a two-day workshop to discover and priority community initiatives. One project that received strong community support was the riverfront and trail network. With a NU Extension Educator actively coaching a well-formed and engaged community-wide committee, the logical next step was for the CEEM project to partner with Nebraska City and look at the potential of the Missouri riverfront. Foundational to achieving CEEM project goals requires both an engaged NU Extension educator who has established a relationship with community and their leadership.

Fall 2018 an upper-level, interdisciplinary student team of architects, interior designers and landscape architects developed a comprehensive design for Missouri River Waterfront. Partners included: University of Nebraska Rural Futures Institute, UNL College of Architecture Landscape Architecture Program, City of Nebraska City, University of Nebraska Extension, and Nebraska City Community Prosperity Initiative committee TART (Tourism, Arts, and Recreation, Trails) with representatives from Nebraska City Finance Commissioner, Director of Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, Director of Lewis and Clark Visitor Center, Nebraska City Community Foundation Fund, Nebraska City Historical Society, local business owners, and President of Nebraska City Riverview Nature Park.

 

PROJECT FOUR: Nebraska Chappell Civic Center Plaza Design

Summary of Process, December 2018

The Community Prosperity Initiative research project established relationships with a cohort of six rural communities to explore the conditions that enable for a more prosperous future by: (1) understanding the economic opportunities that contribute to the creation of businesses, jobs and careers; (2) understanding the types and extent of placemaking to restore or build on community assets that support a high quality of life; and (3) understand how to attract and keeping people to achieve demographic renewal. Chappell, Nebraska was one of the communities who had been working towards understanding both economic and the demographic renewal opportunities. They identified an opportunity to develop a civic center downtown to support community-based activities such as a farmers market and seasonal festivals. With a NU Extension Educator actively coaching a well-formed and engaged communitywide committee, the logical next step was for the CEEM project to partner with Chappell and design the civic center plaza. The design will be used to seek implementation funding from the Department of Economic Development, Civic and Community Center Financing Fund.

 

Project Team

Partners

  • Nebraska Extension
  • Center for Rural Entrepreneurship
  • Willa Cather Foundation
  • City of Red Cloud
  • City of Valentine
  • City of Nebraska City
  • Red Cloud Chamber of Commerce
  • Red Cloud Heritage Tourism
  • National Parks System
  • Center for Great Plains Studies
  • Orphan Train, Concordia, KS
  • Nebraska Farm Bureau
  • Valentine Economic Development
  • Valentine Chamber of Commerce
  • People for Public Space (PPS) and National Endowment for the Arts
  • Nebraska City Community Prosperity TART Committee
  • City of Chappell
  • Chappell City Council
  • National Heritage Area Initiative
  • Nebraska Game and Parks
  • Kearney Visitors Bureau
  • Central Field Service Rep., NE Department of Economic Development
  • Nebraska Library Commission
  • Nebraska State Historical Society
  • Republic Economic Development, KS
  • Nicodemus National Historic Site
  • Humanities Nebraska
  • McCook / Red Willow County Tourism
  • Main Street and Tourism Convention, Marysville, KS
  • Pony Express Museum
  • National Parks Service, Midwest Region

Publications

 

Presentations

 

Media Coverage

 

Contact: Kim Wilson, kwilson4@unl.edu