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UMN Morris Center for Small Towns Announces Spring 2019 Projects

Center for Small Towns student employees working on a project
Jenna Ray
Publication date: 
March 4, 2019
  • CST gives small towns access to the talent and resources at UMN Morris.
  • Projects help students apply skills they're learning in the classroom, strengthen their bonds to greater Minnesota, and develop as professionals.
  • This spring CST is putting 28 UMN Morris students to work on 24 projects impacting Minnesotans around the state.

The University of Minnesota Morris Center for Small Towns (CST) announces its spring 2019 project list. This spring CST is putting 28 UMN Morris students to work on 24 projects impacting Minnesotans around the state.

About CST

CST works with communities across Minnesota each semester. Acting as a doorway to the university, CST gives small towns access to the talent and resources at UMN Morris while providing students an opportunity to apply the skills they're learning in the classroom, strengthen their bonds to greater Minnesota, and develop as professionals.

The Projects

City of Morris Social Media Development

Partner — City of Morris
Student — Sam Koller '20, communication, media, and rhetoric

CST is collaborating with the City of Morris to establish social media communication tools, platforms, and applications to make it possible for the City to more effectively and efficiently communicate with residents. Koller is creating content and developing a schedule for review and sharing of communication content as well as developing a long-term plan for social media management.

Cuyuna Lakes Chamber of Commerce—Ironton to Crosby Road Construction Marketing Best Practices

Partner — Cuyuna Lakes Chamber of Commerce
Student — Griffin Northrop '21, environmental studies

The Minnesota Department of Transportation plans to resurface Highway 210 from Ironton to Crosby in 2021. Northrop is helping them identify best practices for their main street businesses and Chamber of Commerce to use during the reconstruction process to keep residents and tourists informed of the project and to maintain downtown businesses. His research will look at grants development and creation of a marketing plan.

Eighth District Drug Court

Partner — Eighth District Drug Court
Students — Yan Liang '20, economics & statistics; Denise Riffey '19, human services

Liang and Riffey will work with the Eighth District Drug Court and CST to evaluate the drug court's effectiveness by assisting with data analysis and entry.

Extension Data Entry

Partner — UMN Extension
Students — Mya Kotten '19, statistics; Meghan Florip '21, political science & human services

Kotten and Florip are continuing this long-term partnership with the UMN Extension Center for Community Vitality by providing data entry and analysis support for multiple projects throughout the year.

Grant County 4-H After-School Program

Partner — Grant Co. 4-H
Student — Shelbie Morris '22, education

Morris is working with Grant County 4-H to create and implement an after-school program layout for the future. The layout includes structured lessons that can be replicated or modified, a schedule for after-school programming, and plans to build relationships with area schools and school contacts.

Grant County 4-H Social Media

Partner — Grant Co. 4-H
Student — Sam Yicong Yuang

Yuang is working with Grant County 4-H to build awareness of and engagement in growing 4-H opportunities in the county by working with staff to develop and implement a multi-pronged communication plan across social and traditional media outlets.

Leech Lake Experiential Learning

Partner — Leech Lake Early Childhood Programs
Students — Corbin McCall, biochemistry

McCall is working as part of team that includes community members and a graduate student. He's focusing on the program evaluation piece of the project and will research similar projects nationally and internationally, particularly the evaluation methods and tools being used.

Mille Lacs CHIP

Partner — Mille Lacs County
Students — Sunanda Rajput '20, biology; Cecilia Conrad '19, financial & organizational management

Rajput and Conrad are working with Mille Lacs County Community Health Services to gather, analyze, and prioritize assessment data with partners from various data sources and the Community Health Survey for Mille Lacs County. Their work will result in a community health assessment report and provide the basis for a strategic planning process.

MN Native American Boarding School Research

Partner — Stephen Gross, associate professor and archivist, UMN Morris
Student — Lauren Solkowski '20, sociology, psychology & French

Solkowski is working with Gross, supporting his research on American Indian boarding schools in Minnesota operated by the Catholic Church. Solkowski is assisting in researching archival materials according to archival standards, shelving and retrieving materials, and working with library staff to develop and implement the project, including image/document database development.

Morris Area Farmers Market

Partner — Morris Healthy Eating
Student — Nozomi Motohashi '19, environmental studies

Motohashi is working with the Morris Area Farmers Market to increase knowledge of and access to healthy foods on the UMN Morris campus and in the Morris community. Motohashi is assisting the Morris Healthy Eating coordinator in planning, developing, implementing, publicizing, and documenting the 2018 Morris Area Farmers Market season, developing and disseminating media content, and implementing food-­related initiatives and projects.

Pine City Community Center

Partner — City of Pine City
Student — Zamara Tomko '22, physics and math

Tomko is working with Pine City to develop, distribute, and analyze a survey to look at community needs for a new community center. She will develop a database of community centers in similarly sized communities in the region and state, including amenities, membership size, cost, and size of space and what population area they draw users from.

Prairie Renaissance Cultural Alliance

Partner — Prairie Renaissance Cultural Alliance (PRCA)
Student — Justice Robinson '19, communication, media & rhetoric

Robinson is working with PRCA to create a series of short social media-formatted videos to increase awareness of the PRCA and its artists. She will help increase and track the digital presence of the PRCA.

Promoting Health Foods

Partner — 4-Directions Development Inc
Student — Felicia Galvan '21, anthropology

Galvan is working with the Gitigannike Foods Initiative, a 4-Directions Development branch, to develop a clear definition of food sovereignty and to demonstrate the benefits of establishing a local food system in the Red Lake area. Researching organic fruit, vegetable, and livestock production as well as traditional food gathering will help determine which models and equipment are needed for an ag-training garden and give new food producers the opportunity to learn about options in practice to help make decisions on incorporating new factors into their farms.

Promoting Native American Artists

Partner — 4-Directions Development Inc (4DD)
Student — Grace Kunf '22, psychology

4DD seeks to increase market access for Native American artists residing on and around the Red Lake Reservation of northern Minnesota. Kunf is supporting 4DD by researching the various marketing models and programs that promote artists who are functioning in rural areas of the United States and conducting interviews of area artists. She will use her findings to assist 4DD in developing programs to assist area artists in developing as business leaders.

Program Development Assistant

Partner — Native American Student Success (NASS), UMN Morris
Student — Halley Paulson '22, computer science

Paulson is working to improve communication materials and further develop of long-term outreach strategies with a focus on building relationships with organizations led by and serving communities of color and tribal communities in rural areas. She will build a social media presence, develop a consistent blogging plan, and implement an ongoing strategy to engage tribes and other communities of color in CST work.

Raising Up Stevens County (RUSC) Kinship

Partner — RUSC Kinship
Student — Tara Lindquist '22, undeclared

RUSC Kinship is working with Lindquist to improve existing evaluation tools for mentoring programs, collecting and analyzing data, creating and implementing an annual program survey, and starting their new Lunch Buddies program.

Recycling for Our Future

Partner — Red Lake Nation, Economic Development and Planning
Student — Adam Schneider '22, political science & environmental studies

Schneider is working with the Red Lake Nation to develop a strategic marketing plan for the promotion of recycling on Red Lake. He is researching the current demographics of the area, patterns of waste disposal, and attitudes toward recycling as a means of understanding the target market. Using a variety of research approaches, Schneider and CST staff will use findings to propose a strategy for obtaining a minimum 50 percent community engagement in recycling.

Rural Atlas

Partner — Center for Rural Policy and Development (CRPD)
Students — Mika Cadiz '19, biology

Cadiz is assisting the CRPD in developing a new online application using R's Shiny Package to provide various visualizations of data pertaining to specific rural issues and trends.

Stand Up, Step In, Speak Out, Bystander Intervention Program

Partner — Unspoken Voices
Student — Desmond Homann '21, English

Unspoken Voices and CST are collaborating to establish permanent connections with schools and community organizations in the midwestern Minnesota area. Homann is compiling surveys and analyzing results as well as conducting supplemental interviews with teachers to help draft an evaluation report using the information collected in addition to organizing performances.

Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking in Rural MN

Partner — Someplace Safe
Student — Wahid Ratul '19, economics and statistics

Ratul is creating an effective data source to understand and track the impacts of sex trafficking on youth in the nine-county region served by Someplace Safe (Big Stone, Douglas, Grant, Otter Tail, Pope, Stevens, Traverse, Wadena, and Wilkin). The results will be used to help inform policy, determine services, and create legislative change around sex trafficking.

Sustainable Farming Association Leadership Development

Partner — Sustainable Farming Association
Student — Alyssa Pecholt '21, environmental science

Pecholt is working with the Western SFA Chapter and the Lake Agassiz Chapter. She will also attend the SFA Annual Conference and assist with the event. Pecholt will create fact sheets on membership recruitment and renewal, communications for chapters, earned and owned media; and planning meetings and events.

Telling Our Stories—CST

Students — Abbey Guggisberg '19, music performance & secondary education; Zoe Loucks '19, sports management

Guggisberg and Loucks are part of the CST team creating the base for a new component of CST's work with small towns. The team is developing an online resource toolkit and trainings to assist community organizations with marketing and outreach. This semester will focus on determining community needs and reviewing existing resources.

West Central MN Vacant Building Study

Partner —West Central Initiative
Student — Collin Westgard '20, environmental studies

CST is working with the West Central Initiative to meet its goal of implementing a regional study to identify vacant buildings, their current state of being, and current ownership. Westgard will use ArcGIS Survey123 mapping tool to ready data for public use, to inform and gain participation of communities in participating in the project, and making ArcGIS Survey123 maps user-friendly by the end of the project. This long-term project will prioritize attention to particular communities, direct resources to the proper scenarios, and build community support.