MSU students help gather feedback for community focus report

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A group of students at Missouri State University is working to create a better future for the city of Springfield. It's part of a a service-learning project for a Communication Programs and Issues Management class at the university.

"We've created an entire plan that we are implementing starting March 20 to learn more about the community and learn more about the people in our community and how we can better serve them," said MSU senior Blake Shepheard.

The students were picked by Community Foundation of the Ozarks (CFO) to help with this year's Community Focus Report. It's a study done every two years that examines strengths and weaknesses for Springfield based on feedback from residents.

"We have this opportunity presented to us through the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. Louise Knauer, who serves as senior vice-president of communications and marketing for Community Foundation of the Ozarks said, 'We want more engagement from the community in terms of social media and using social media, and engaging groups that we usually don't hear from.'" said Didem Koroglu, a Communications instructor at MSU.

CFO has been researching and publishing these detailed community focus reports since 2004. In the past they have collected feedback through committees that are made up of leaders from roughly a dozen agencies. Those agencies share feedback that they get from residents, and that information is then broken down into 11 areas of focus for the report. CFO hopes that by adding the option for people to leave feedback online, it will diversify the pool of respondents.

"We are encouraging people to get online on Padlet to share their experiences about living in Springfield," said Shepheard.

"We are directing everything through social media. [Respondents] will be prompted and have the chance to share their experiences. We will collect that data and then create reports for the steering committee for the 2017 Community Focus Report," Shepheard said.

"That gives them real life experience on working with community entities. They network, they attend meetings with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, they also apply real life communications programs," said Koroglu.

The class is largely made up of seniors, now just weeks from graduation, some say this project will be a nice way to leave their mark on the school and in the community.

"I'm really excited about it. Having lived in Springfield for four years and learning more about these initiatives and these non-profits that are involved [has been great]. It's really awesome to see how this is all coming together right before we graduate and then being able to look back and see how this data that we have collected is really helping to benefit the community," said Shepheard.

If you want to weigh in on this years Community Focus Report please visit: https://padlet.com/sgfcommunityfocus2017/communityboard

For more information and to view past reports visit: springfieldcommunityfocus.org

ABOUT THE COMMUNITY FOCUS REPORT:
The Community Focus Report is a report card that identifies the strengths (blue ribbons) and weaknesses (red flags) within various sectors of our community. This honest inquiry is necessary to know areas of success as well as areas that need further attention. The report continues to guide initiatives and decision-making in our community. Moreover, its content is consistently used by community leaders, elected officials and citizens as they develop strategies to make our community stronger.