NDSU Extension Service helps communities maintain vitality
Published May 23, 2014
North Dakota will have in excess of 840,000 people by 2025, according to the latest estimates. That’s about 130,000 more people than the state has now.
In just one year, 2011-12, the state’s population grew by 2.2 percent. However, while 31 of the state’s 53 counties gained residents that year, nine counties lost population.
Small communities in general are finding that limited local resources and information are influencing their capacity to safeguard their communities, land, environment and families from negative consequences, and to plan and build for a positive economic future.
The North Dakota State University Extension Service’s community vitality program is helping communities take charge of their futures by providing them with the education and support they need to preserve the quality of life that citizens value.
In fact, community vitality is one of the four key areas in which the NDSU Extension Service focuses its programming. The other three are agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer science, and 4-H youth development.
This year, NDSU Extension is celebrating 100 years of extending knowledge and changing the lives of North Dakotans.
NDSU Extension’s community vitality program is making a difference through efforts such as:
Rural Leadership North Dakota. An 18-month leadership development program. Participants make use of the skills they learn by developing and implementing projects that improve their organization, community or region. For example, Watford City gained a playground. New England has a new swimming pool. Northwood upgraded its fire-fighting equipment. And a dairy near Mandan is giving visitors a chance to learn about agriculture. But even greater than these projects, the program is building leaders throughout North Dakota.
Horizons program. This partnership of NDSU Extension and the St. Paul, Minn.-based Northwest Area Foundation helped 44 rural communities identify opportunities, develop strategic plans and increase their own leadership to confront tough issues such as poverty, vandalism or lack of access to food and local health-care services.
Marketing Hometown America. Under this program, Edmore is making plans to reopen a community cafe and Ellendale is working with a college to engage its students in community life and business.
Dynamic Community Planning. NDSU Extension, in collaboration with KLJ, a private engineering firm, developed this community planning model and is piloting it in western North Dakota. The model already has helped Glen Ullin and surrounding small communities update their city ordinances.
Small-business and manufacturing development assistance. Extension specialists help manufacturers learn how to identify production bottlenecks and energy wasters to improve efficiency. Entrepreneurs learn the steps to starting a business, such as where and how to apply for a business name, and strategies for keeping it running profitably, such as marketing and customer service.
The community vitality program’s goal is for communities to have actively engaged and well-informed citizens who work with local leadership to have a great community for the people who live there.
Contact the NDSU Center for Community Vitality to get help today for a healthier community tomorrow.
- Kathleen Tweeten, director of the NDSU Extension Center for Community Vitality