Students guide asset mapping in Keith County

Jan 8th, 2009 | By | Category: Campus News, Issue, January 8, 2009

The Keith County Area Development Board has commissioned an asset mapping project for Ogallala and the surrounding area that will be conducted by the Students in Free Enterprise team at UNL.

The goal of this project is to find and evaluate the community’s local strengths and assets such as leadership, physical amenities, successful businesses, places and things with historic significance, or anything else that might be used strategically to improve the community’s welfare. Once these assets are recognized, they can be developed and used to help the community grow. Strengths involve items such as infrastructure, geography and the environment, human resources, cultural and social makeup, historic elements of the town, economics and agriculture.

The project began in November and is expected to be completed by June 1.

Coordinators of the program are Ken Schlitz and Dorothy Davis of the Keith County Area Development Board, Giovanni Infante-Stills of the SIFE advisory board, and Kathleen Thornton of the Nebraska Center for Entrepreneurship and faculty adviser for the UNL SIFE team.

“The opportunity to coordinate a project with the UNL SIFE members is unique and very interesting,” Davis said. “This partnership creates potential benefits for the Ogallala community and for SIFE. The results of the asset mapping study will provide data that will be useful to local organizations and businesses.”

Students in Free Enterprise is the world’s largest nonprofit student organization, with active teams on more than 1,400 college and university campuses in 40 countries. SIFE students form teams that serve their communities by developing projects that solve real-world problems. They use their developing business knowledge from UNL to help aspiring entrepreneurs, local communities, students of all ages and people worldwide experience success. Business executives support the program through corporate donations, personal contributions and the gift of their time.

David Zhang, the SIFE project leader, said he is energized by the opportunity. “Many people have the belief that you have to go out and get a ‘real’ job, rather than staying where you are and contributing to the development of the community,” he said. “Ogallala is trying to reform its community right now, and this project is helping to kick it off by trying to help the community change how it thinks about itself.”

Zhang, a junior biological systems engineering major from Sidney, said he sees far reaching possibilities for the project. “This could help change the way people think in rural areas all over Nebraska. This project could breathe new life into the rural areas of our state.”

There are 22 SIFE students working on the Ogallala asset mapping project. Zhang said he is optimistic about the project.

“We will be making two to three trips to Ogallala, and we want to collaborate with the leaders in the community while we are there,” Zhang said. “I think this will be a very exciting experience for us. It will be a good chance for us to build some camaraderie and team spirit while assisting an important part of the state to achieve its potential.”

— Story by Nate Albright, Nebraska Center for Entrepreneurship

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Leave Comment