Past Projects

Fall 2015 Projects

Historic Hills Scenic Byway Strategic Communications Campaign Project

A group of six University of Iowa students teamed up to conduct extensive market research on the Historic Hills Scenic Byway, managed by the Pathfinders RC&D. The students used their findings to create a comprehensive strategic communication plan with the goal of attracting more visitors to the Historic Hills Scenic Byway, thus supporting the local businesses and communities. This project was conducted as part of a Strategic Communication Campaigns course taught by Assistant Professor Rachel Young in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Nonprofit Organizational Effectiveness II Grant Search Project

Nine groups of students were partnered with an RC&D non-profit organization to research their individual missions and conduct grant searches relating to their RC&D’s specific funding needs. These students were enrolled in an online course titled Nonprofit Organizational Effectiveness II, led by Professor Jill Smith in the Tippie College of Business. The purpose of Nonprofit Organizational Effectiveness II is to introduce students to the specific leadership and management skills needed for the effective day-to-day operation of nonprofit organizations (e.g. accountability, human resources, community engagement, and funding decisions).

Turkey River Watershed Economic Impact Analysis Project

With the guidance of Professor Haifeng Qian, Urban and Regional Planning student Juliana Lucchesi evaluated the economic impacts of a new policy for the Turkey River Watershed in partnership with Northeast Iowa RC&D. Juliana delivered a final report including framework for a cost-benefit analysis and an economic analysis of the new policy. Due to the timeline for data collection, this project developed into an ongoing partnership between Northeast Iowa RC&D and the School of Urban & Regional Planning.

Project Deliverables:

ICKitchenConnect Website Project

Iowa Valley RC&D collaborated with UI Partners to create the ICKitchenConnect website. Jason Grimm with Iowa Valley RC&D worked directly with Adam Engel and Kiley Murphy on the WordPress site installation. Engel and Murphy built the website structure and page formatting, and Grimm developed content and populated the website pages.

Project Deliverable: ICKitchenConnect website, http://ickitchenconnect.com/

Iowa Lakes RC&D Website Project

Iowa Lakes RC&D worked with UI Partners to have a new website designed for their organization. The previous website was not user friendly and the RC&D lacked the expertise to modify the website to meet the needs of today’s viewer.

Project Deliverable: Iowa Lakes RC&D Website, http://iowalakesrcd.org/

Spring 2015 Projects

Office of the State Archeologist Summer Book Tour

Iowa Lakes RC&D collaborated on the Office of the State Archeologist summer book tour by holding a book signing/unveiling event at the Prairie Heritage Center (PHC) in June.  The OSA book tour was beneficial to the RC&D, one of their partner organizations (O’Brien County Conservation), as well as the Glacial Trail Scenic Byway.

Southern Iowa RC&D Piano Trio

In May 2015, a piano trio performed at the Corning Opera House.

Iowa Writers’ Workshop Open Mic Night

Several graduate students from the University of Iowa's Writers’ Workshop read their poetry and fictional works to a packed house during First Friday’s Open Mic Night at Adam's Street Espresso in uptown Creston (Southern Iowa RC&D), on Friday, April 3, 2015.  Earlier in the day the same graduate students hosted a writers’ workshop with Melisa Crook's language arts class at East Union School in Afton.

Spring 2016 Projects

Project Design & Management Civil Engineering
Instructor: Paul Hanley

Macedonia Folk Art Center Design Project

Golden Hills will be working with a Design & Management Civil Engineering course taught by Professor Paul Hanley to partner on a design project for the proposed Macedonia Folk Art Center in Macedonia, Iowa. Students will design and address engineering solutions related to the building site. Recommendations for site development, facility design and sustainable building practices will be part of the project. Once complete, the student-led project will be used to support a capital campaign to raise funds for the Folk Art Center’s construction and development as well as inform the final architectural and construction documents.

Civil Engineering Project

Engineering design work for a hiking/biking trail connecting Lynnville and Sully. The initial scope will determine a preferred alignment for the trail from two alternative alignments currently suggested. Students will work with city staff, community partners, and residents to select a preferred alignment, and complete a full design of the hiking/biking trail.

Civil Engineering Project

During significant storm events, Prairie City experiences flooding on the south edge of town, including significant localized basement flooding from sanitary sewer back-ups. Engineering students will create a comprehensive evaluation of the stormwater management system in Prairie City. Students will outline stormwater management improvements necessary to reduce localized flooding and make sure sanitary sewage is properly treated.

Civil Engineering Project

The Rock Island Railroad operated the spur line between Des Moines and Monroe until 1975. The railroad has since abandoned this line, and it is now under the ownership of the Jasper County Conservation Commission. Prairie City and Mitchellville seek to transform this rail line into a trail system. Engineering students will evaluate and prepare a concept design for converting the railroad Right of way into a hiking a biking trail.

Civil Engineering Project

Lewis Park is a 28 acre park on the east side of Colfax, adjacent to the community school district. A creek that runs through the park is causing erosion problems. Engineering students will take a comprehensive look at the creek channel through the park and determine how it can be engineering to control erosion and function as an amenity of the park and disc golf course, while continuing to function as a storm water drainage corridor for the watershed.

Civil Engineering Project

30 Acre Park is an undeveloped natural area in southeast Newton. The Newton Parks and Recreation Commission would like to pursue the development of 30 Acre Park into a modern, functioning park. Engineering students will develop a master plan for the park that will include extension of nearby roads to provide better park access, design a foraml trail system within thep ark, and design a paved parking area with a park entrance.

Civil Engineering Project

Monroe, IA has begun the implementation ofa  pedestrian-bicycle network. The commencment of this regional trail into Des fMoines from Monroe has created the impetus to design a comprehensive sidewalks and trail plan for Monroe that will incorporate a regional trail system. Engineering systems will design a trailhead in Monroe for the rail trail that will include a parking area, restrooms, and connect to the sanitary sewer and municipal water system, allowing for the development of a small park area. Studnets will also design a interconnected sidwalk and trail system within Monroe that connects predominant origins and destinations, and provides connections to the rail trail.

Demonstration Sites for Stormwater Best Practices

The city has formed a committee that includes city councilmen, city personnel, and RC&D employees. This committee has identified over a dozen locations where storm water runoff practices could be installed and have already secured some and submitted additional grants to begin construction of those practices in 2016. The City is requesting the engineering designs for up to 10 sites within the community.

Evaluation and Redesign of Drainage Structure for Upper Wapsipinicon River Watershed Management Authority, Elma Iowa

The city is seeking a stormwater runoff design and plan. They currently have a curb and gutter system and have had problems at specific sites that they would like to address including at a drainage structure in the center of town that fills with water during rainfall events. The viaduct spans the major roadway as it weaves through the community. The community is interested in improving their storm water flow and they are therefore seeking assistance with the following.

  • Conduct surficial flow mapping for the community and surrounding areas
  • Analysis and redesign of the drainage structure
  • Identify and present best management practices to the community leaders
  • Identify primary locations for implementation of those practices
  • Complete engineering and develop cost estimates for the priority projects so that the community is ready to submit grants and proposals to implement projects

Stormwater Management Initaitive Upper Wapsipinicon River Watershed Management Authority

At one point, the city physically buried the main floor of their downtown business district, creating an abandoned underground city, in the hope of reducing the constant flooding of businesses. Although the City has had to deal with flooding for decades, they have never analyzed how water flows through their community, nor have they considered how storm water runoff from various parts of the city impacts their community. They would like to explore these issues through the following methods.

  • Conduct surficial flow mapping for the community and surrounding areas
  • Identify and present best management practices to the community leaders
  • Identify primary locations for implementation of those practices
  • Complete engineering and develop cost estimates for the priority projects so that the community is ready to submit grants and proposals to implement projects

Strategic Communication Campaigns Course
Instructor: Heather Spangler

ICKitchenConnect Strategic Communications Campaign Project (Entrepreneurs)

Iowa Valley RC&D worked with students in Professor Heather Spangler’s Strategic Communication Campaigns course to create a communications campaign for the ICKitchenConnect project to connect with food entrepreneurs. Students created a communications campaign that can be utilized by Iowa Valley RC&D to inform and empower local citizens who aspire to become food entrepreneurs.

Project Deliverables:

ICKitchenConnect Strategic Communications Campaign Project (Officials)

Iowa Valley RC&D worked with students in Professor Heather Spangler’s Strategic Communication Campaigns course to create a communications campaign for the ICKitchenConnect project to promote the website and affiliated kitchens to local government officials and leaders. Students created a communications campaign focused on the economic development benefits of ICKitchenConnect, with the goal of garnering local government support for the project and additional kitchens.

Project Deliverables:

Food Safety Modernization Act Strategic Communications Campaign Project

The new Food Safety Modernization Act rules were published by the FDA at the end of 2015 and will impact Iowa’s producers, processors and buyers (compliance required in 2-4 years). These rules are the first time the sale of fruit and vegetables have been regulated by the FDA. Iowa Valley RC&D seeks to inform Eastern Iowans, including producers, processors, consumers, and officials, about these changes. Students in Professor Heather Spangler's Strategic Communication Campaigns course will work with Iowa Valley RC&D to develop and implement a communications campaign that will raise awareness about the new regulations and assist farmers with understanding and implementing the new policies within their farming operations.

Project Deliverables:

Film/Video Production: Nonfiction
Instructor: Anna Swanson

Pathfinders Portrait Video Project

Students enrolled in a Film/Video Production: Nonfiction course led by Anna Swanson in the Department of Cinematic Arts filmed a video for Pathfinders RC&D. The students captured the organization's unique history, purpose, achievements, and current projects in a short video that Pathfinders RC&D will use to share their story with partners, potential funders, and the general public.

Project Deliverables:

Passing Tradition Video Project

Students enrolled in a Film/Video Production: Nonfiction course created a video to showcase local farming traditions in partnership with Villages Folk School of Van Buren County and Pathfinders RC&D. This video preceded a public art project erected in Keosauqua, Iowa during summer 2016 as a tribute to the Van Buren County Farmer.

Project Deliverables:

This Land Video Project

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship – Mines and Minerals Bureau is responsible for reclaiming “abandoned mine lands” in Iowa. Students enrolled in a Film/Video Production: Nonfiction course led by Anna Swanson created a video in partnership with Pathfinders RC&D and the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to showcase landowners from southeast Iowa speaking on the condition of their previously mined land and the experience of having it reclaimed.

Project Deliverables:

A Small Town's Secret Video Project

Students enrolled in a Film/Video Production: Nonfiction course led by Anna Swanson created a video in partnership with Pathfinders RC&D and the American Gothic House Center to examine the economic impact that the American Gothic House Center has on the town of Eldon, Iowa through interviews with local community members.

Project Deliverables:

Iowan Grass-Fed Video Project

Students enrolled in a Film/Video Production: Nonfiction course led by Anna Swanson created a video in partnership with Pathfinders RC&D and Lipes Family Farm to highlight the benefits of grass-fed beef from the perspective of the Lipes family.

Project Deliverables:

Contextual Foundations – Special Libraries
Instructor: Lindsay Mattock

Museum Preservation Workshop

Students enrolled in Lindsay Mattock's Contextual Foundations - Special Libraries course through the School of Library & Information Science partnered with Pathfinders RC&D to host a museum preservation workshop for Southeast Iowa museums. The students researched the needs of various museums that partner with Pathfinders RC&D and created a workshop to assist them in preserving their unique collections.

Project Deliverables:

Nonprofit Organizational Effectiveness II
Professor Jill Smith

Nonprofit Organizational Effectiveness II Grant Search Project

Groups of students enrolled in an online course titled Nonprofit Organizational Effectiveness II, led by Professor Jill Smith in the Tippie College of Business, partnered with several RC&D non-profit organizations to research their individual missions and conduct grant searches relating to the RC&D’s specific funding needs.

Additional Projects

Pathfinders RC&D Website Project

Pathfinders RC&D worked with UI Partners to develop a new website for their organization. Pathfinders RC&D’s previous website was 10 years old and not responsive for viewing on mobile devices. The new website provides an optimal viewing and interaction experience, and informs visitors about the positive impact Pathfinders RC&D has on rural communities in southeast Iowa.

Project Deliverables:

Summer 2016

Department of Cinematic Arts

Farmers' Markets Bring Us Together Video Project

Anna Swanson, MFA candidate in Film/Video Production in the Cinematic Arts Department, partnered with Southern Iowa RC&D to complete a local foods video project. The video aims to promote farmers’ markets in Southern Iowa by showing consumers and farmers in Southern Iowa RC&D’s seven-county region the vibrancy of local agriculture. The video frames local foods as sustainable, healthy, cost-effective, and community-oriented choices.

Project Deliverables:

  • Coming soon

Writers' Workshop

Arts Program Fiction Writing Workshop

Southern Iowa RC&D brought the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, sponsored by the University of Iowa’s Art Share program, to the Creston: Arts program for a two-day-fiction writing workshop. University of Iowa graduate students, Raj Chakrapani and Anca Roncea, taught the workshops with 22 participants of all ages attending.