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ISU students assist in creating a Master Plan for Clay City

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A plan to bring a community center to the citizens of Clay City may soon come to fruition thanks to help from Indiana State University students.

In hopes to bring a more fruitful array of activities to the town the REIN (recreation, education, information and nutrition) Center began plans to bring a community center to the town, known as the "Mayberry of the Midwest."

Plans hit a snag when the Center was unable to raise funds for a Master Plan, which is a living document that would enable the town to apply for grants to expand recreation and leisure activities, as well as promoting heath and disease prevention in the community. Pat Wilkinson, a member of the REIN Center Coalition advisory board said the cost for such a plan runs between $40,000-$50,000.

Instead of letting the project squander, Wilkinson reached out to Nathan Schaumleffel, an Assistant Professor of Recreation and Sports Management at Indiana State University. Schaumleffel teaches several classes that give students hands on experience in community development projects. He is also the head of the Indiana Rural Recreation Development Project (InRRDP), which gives undergraduate students real-world experience by working in rural communities seeking an increase in recreation and leisure activities. He agreed to work up a project where several classes of his students would work up a master plan free of charge, putting the final project together after two years of gathering data. Wilkinson said the project would not be moving forward without the help of Schaumleffel and his students.

"(The student) did a wonderful job," Wilkinson said about the groups' creation of the 200-plus page document. "We would not have the master plan if not for them and we are grateful for their help."

Schaumleffel, who was also aided by Kimberly Bodey, an assistant professor in the department, said working with REIN was a good experience because they were very involved in the documents creation.

"This was a great team effort," Schaumleffel said. "It's refreshing when a group wants to help and not just take free service."

The experience also proved valuable for the students to see if working on such projects would help them find a future career. Colby Martin, a sophomore Recreation and Sports Management major, said he thought the master plan creation gave him a great taste of something he wished to make a career out of.

"I really enjoyed the whole process," Martin said. "It's something I'm good at and something I could wake up and do every day of my life."

Schaumleffel said he felt it was his duty as an educator to make sure students are as prepared as possible to use their degrees after leaving the world of academia.

"College should be the real world," Schaumleffel said. "(A project such as this one) teaches them to be professional and teaches them to look in the mirror and see themselves as emerging professionals instead of college students."

Wilkinson said the next step in the Community Center process is to apply for what is known as a Focus Fund Planning Grant, which will be used to fund an architect. She said the center would be used for various projects, including athletic endeavors such as basketball and tennis and healthy living exercises promoting health and disease control. She said she hoped they would receive the grant by 2009 but wasn't sure of an exact time frame when they would receive the grant.

A copy of the master plan can be found at the InRRDP website at indstate.edu/inrrdp.



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