About Sustaining Hoosier Communities
Through Sustaining Hoosier Communities, the IU Center for Rural Engagement connects faculty and students at IU Bloomington with rural Indiana communities to partner in the formation, leadership and development of projects that address health and wellness, community resilience and quality of place. The center matches faculty, students and university resources to create a team that works together to achieve the community's vision.
About Greene County
Greene County is a rural community in southern Indiana with a population of 32,177. Several towns and cities comprise Greene County, including Bloomfield, Linton, Jasonville, Stockton, Switz City and Worthington. Residents and tourists alike enjoy the recreational and cultural resources of Greene County, home to Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area, Greene-Sullivan State Forest, Redbird State Riding Area, Shakamak State Park, Shawnee Theatre, Sculpture Trails Outdoor Museum and the Linton Freedom Festival, which features the largest Independence Day parade in Indiana. Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane and WestGate at Crane Technology Park are large economic drivers in the area, and the newly completed portion of Interstate 69 has added a major transportation thoroughfare.
IU students and faculty worked with Greene County leaders and residents on projects ranging from promoting tourism, to developing public relations campaigns for the Linton Farmers' Market and Shawnee Theatre, to educating 4-H youth on mental health.
Appreciating the remarkable histories, people, and resources that rural communities have, Sustaining Hoosier Communities uses a process guided by the principles of appreciative inquiry, asset-based community development, and Strategic Doing. Greene County residents were asked to adopt an appreciative inquiry mindset, envisioning a positive future in which Greene County was thriving—what would that look like? Residents then took stock of the assets in Greene County, recognizing the county is home to a great number of people and organizations with valuable knowledge, skills, and resources. Residents developed project ideas inspired by local assets, submitting more than 100 ideas in total.
The Center for Rural Engagement shared the project ideas with faculty from a wide variety of disciplines, who were excited to incorporate the projects into their courses. Faculty and students visited Greene County and community partners visited campus, and these exchanges allowed the faculty and students to gain an understanding of the rural community context. The spring semester began like the fall, but half way through, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted Indiana University to shift course instruction online, so the spring semester concluded with virtual collaboration. Despite the pandemic, most of the projects were able to be completed in some respect because of the diligence of the community partners, faculty, and students.
Sizable group attends SHC initiative planning session
“This is an incredible opportunity for the citizens of Greene County to showcase all that makes us unique. Our people, resources, talent, work ethic and, most importantly, our dreams and imaginations."
Richard Nichols, President of the Greene County Tourism and Advisory Board, and President of the Greene County Convention, Visitor and Tourist Commission
Top assets as identified in the community meeting:
- Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area
- Linton Farmers' Market
- Shawnee Theatre
- Shakamak State Park
- Greene County General Hospital
- School Systems
- Mayor of Linton
- Sculpture Trails
- Hamilton Center
- Elks Lodge
- Greene-Sullivan State Park
- Food Pantries
- Nursing Homes
- Red Bird State Recreation Area
- Metal Tech
- Tulip Trestle
“Thank you for making Greene county a priority this year. . . . We consider ourselves fortunate to have worked with such a competent student group. They offered us a great deal and we thank them for their expertise and willingness to work with us.”
– comment from community partner survey
“[This project] enabled me to take these ideas and what I learned into the real world and showed me that I will be able to do this in my future career after working with a real client.”
– comment from student survey
Designing a Tulip Trestle Visitor Center
The Tulip Trestle Restoration Inc, with a three-fold mission of community, preservation, and conservation, plans to build a multi-functional visitor center in the future. Dorian Bybee's interior design students created two sets of plans for the visitor center: a short-term plan with basic features like gathering space and restrooms, and a long-term plan with supplemental features like a conservationist residency space.
Promoting Tourism in Greene County
With a local innkeeper’s tax implemented quite recently, the Greene County Tourism Advisory Board is better positioned to utilize resources and promote the county’s many tourism resources. To bring a new design style to these promotion efforts in Greene County, Jenny El-Shamy’s graphic design students created new communications assets, including a logo for the county, a brochure, and kiosks for key sites.
Designing a Business Model for Artist Co-Operative
To support art activities, build community, and attract tourism, the Greene County Tourism Advisory Board worked with 180 Degrees Consulting in the Kelley School of Business to design a business plan for an artist cooperative at The Cabin.
Modeling Finances for a Recreation Center
Greene County is seeking a facility where residents can participate in recreation activities year-round. To initiate the planning process for a recreation center, Dr. Bree Josefy’s graduate accounting students surveyed community members and modeled potential financial futures for a recreation center, helping the Greene County General Hospital determine how to organize and operate the recreation center on behalf of the community.
Creating a Greene County Tourism Public Relations Strategy
With a local innkeeper’s tax implemented recently, the Greene County Tourism Advisory Board is better positioned to utilize resources and promote the county’s many tourism resources. Dr. Minjeong Kang’s students in Public Relations Planning and Research conducted a situational analysis through primary and secondary research and created a comprehensive public relations campaign book with practical recommendations for advancing the board’s public relations efforts.
Creating Public Relations Campaigns for the Shawnee Theatre
To better engage key audiences for Shawnee Theatre, such as youth and families, Dr. Minjeong Kang’s students in Public Relations Campaigns conducted a situational analysis through primary and secondary research and created comprehensive public relations campaigns with practical recommendations for advancing Shawnee Theatre’s goals.
Creating Public Relations Campaigns for the Linton Farmers’ Market
To better engage key audiences for the Linton Farmers’ Market, such as SNAP recipients and potential volunteers and sponsors, Dr. Esi Thompson’s students in Public Relations Campaigns created comprehensive public relations campaigns through a situational analysis including primary and secondary research and offered practical recommendations for advancing the goals of the Linton Farmers’ Market.
Promoting the Sculpture Trails
The Sculpture Trails Outdoor Museums is home to more than 150 iron sculptures made by artists from across the world. Despite the strong international network, there remains opportunity to engage community members in the region. Students in Esi Thompson's public relations campaigns class created campaigns to engage residents of Bloomington and attract volunteers for the organization.
Promoting the Tulip Trestle
The Tulip Trestle is a dearly held landmark outside of Solsberry. Although it attracts admirers from across the nation each year, more could be done to encourage community members to support the nonprofit that stewards the site. Students in Victoria Field's public relations campaigns class created campaigns to gather volunteer and financial support for the Tulip Trestle.
Chronic Illness: Promoting Healthy Lifestyles
To increase the accessibility of health care for those with chronic illness, Erin Wyatt’s nursing students in Transitional Care for Families and Populations created a set of resources and videos to inform local residents of safety and good practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Developing a Community Engagement Plan for Shawnee Theatre
The Shawnee Theatre has a history to be proud of in Greene County. Arts administration students helped the theatre identify community engagement strategies to capture the interest of families and youth, positioning the theatre on a path toward sustainability.
Managing Volunteers with the Romans Warrior Foundation
The Romans Warrior Foundation has a mission to provide cost-free, therapeutic weekend retreats for Greene County veterans, Gold Star families, and first responders. Students in Laura Littlepage's human resources class developed plans for volunteer management to assist the growing nonprofit.
Managing Volunteers with the Sculpture Trails
The Sculpture Trails Outdoor Museum funds its projects through donations and grants. Students in Laura Littlepage's human resources class prepared materials to manage volunteer recruitment and coordination efforts required to staff and support the various activities of the nonprofit.
Planning for Trails
For the City of Linton and many other organizations and residents, connecting Greene County via a recreation trails system is a high priority and something the county currently lacks. Bill Brown’s graduate students in Sustainable Communities engaged consultants to identify how to start a trail development project, inventory potential funding sources, and launch a planning committee with a clear timeline and deliverables in order to develop trails across the county.
Revitalizing Downtown Linton
To foster more economic activity in Downtown Linton, Mark Levin’s students in Local Economic Development identified potential businesses to occupy a vacant downtown building that needs rehabilitation, and they assisted the Linton-Stockton Chamber of Commerce and the Greene County Economic Development Corporation with applying for relevant grants.
Writing Grants with the Romans Warrior Foundation
The Romans Warrior Foundation has a mission to provide cost-free, therapeutic weekend retreats for Greene County veterans, Gold Star families, and first responders. Students in Laura Littlepage's grant writing class prepared materials to apply for grants that will fund key projects for the nonprofit.
Writing Grants with the Sculpture Trails
The Sculpture Trails Outdoor Museum is an active operation supported almost entirely by volunteer efforts. Students in Laura Littlepage's human resources class developed plans for volunteer management to assist the nonprofit.
Benchmarking a Recreation Center
Greene County is seeking a facility where residents can participate in recreation activities year-round. To initiate the planning process for a recreation center, Alison Miller’s students in Living Well identified benchmark recreation centers in similar communities and created reports on key aspects of operations, such as budget models and available services.
Creating Programming for the Bloomfield Pool
Following the Bloomfield Pool's renovations in 2018, there is a need to continue attracting residents to enjoy the pool. Alison Miller’s students in Recreational Sports Programming drafted programming proposals that will creatively use the pool facilities during and after swim season.
Developing Activities for Youth
To increase the supply of recreation activities for the youth in Bloomfield, Dr. Julie Knapp’s students in Foundations of Public, Nonprofit and Community Recreation created a needs assessment, a variety of activity plans, and a database of relevant grants.
Educating 4-H Youth on Mental Health
Purdue Extension-Greene County is developing a youth council to provide space for youth to take leadership on a number of pressing issues. To spread awareness and reduce stigma, Dr. Deb Getz’s students in Introduction to Lifespan Development designed short educational interventions about mental health and other health topics for youth and deliver them to the new youth council.
Interpreting Native Plants at Shakamak State Park
To educate visitors at Shakamak State Park about the importance of native plants, Dr. Brian Forist’s students in Integrated Resource Management designed native plant beds and create accompanying interpretative signage for installation next to the park’s busy swimming pool and lake.
Supporting the Greene County Youth Council
The Greene County Youth Council, formed in fall 2019, provides a platform for high school youth to address relevant health topics among their peers, including topics like substance misuse and sexual health. Students in Deb Getz's youth workers class created educational materials for the Youth Council to ensure they have access to accurate and appropriate information.
The collaborations through Sustaining Hoosier Communities this past year have laid the foundation for continued partnership between Greene County and the Center for Rural Engagement. Ongoing projects will address some of the major priorities that emerged from the community meetings with Greene County residents, including tourism promotion, food system development, and support for youth.