Rural infrastructure is a complex problem and a pressing one for a state like Arkansas.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service is working with the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service to identify infrastructure challenges in rural Arkansas and methods for solving them.
“Rural infrastructure impacts citizens’ lives every day, from the roads they drive on to the water they drink,” Julianne Dunn, an economic development instructor for the Cooperative Extension Service’s Community, Professional, and Economic Development unit, said in a statement. “The purpose of this research study is to improve quality of life and foster economic and community development in rural Arkansas through identifying specific infrastructure challenges and recommending evidence-based responses for local and county governments to undertake.”
Clinton School students are targeting 20 Arkansas counties and seeking input from local leaders through an online survey. By polling the local leaders, who will include mayors, county judges, quorum court members and others, the students expect to learn the specific challenges facing these challenges and develop responses to them.
The survey, which is available until Feb. 11, will focus on the following counties: Boone, Calhoun, Clark, Cleveland, Crittenden, Dallas, Hot Spring, Independence, Johnson, Lafayette, Lincoln, Monroe, Newton, Nevada, Prairie, Searcy, Sevier, Union, Van Buren and Woodruff.
At the Clinton School, graduate students are tasked with completing public service projects. This project, Dunn says, is a hands-on application of what the students have learned in class. The students leading the survey include Marlie Ball, Drew Coker, Brock Hyland and Dillon Pitts.
“They are essentially putting into practice what they learn in class,” Dunn said. “We’re looking forward to seeing their results so we can better serve our communities.”
Dunn says the results of the survey will be given to elected officials once they are analyzed. The goal is to boost economic development and community growth in rural parts of the state. “Ultimately, we hope to identify potential solutions that can spur economic and community development in rural Arkansas that improves quality of life for Arkansans,” she says.
To access the survey, click here.