News Features

K-State class works with CECD, Kansas community on water project

K-State Engagement E-News, January 2008 (PDF)

by Stephanie Faulk

The fall 2007 PR Campaigns class created a slew of new materials for the Delaware River Watershed including this logo.

The fall 2007 PR Campaigns class created a slew of new materials for the Delaware River Watershed including this logo.

A K-State PR Campaigns class is working with the Delaware River Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) to communicate with Kansans about watersheds and water sustainability. This relationship is symbiotic for the students and the communities they serve.

"I felt it was beneficial to have a client that we could correspond with on a daily basis," former PR Campaigns student Jessica Silfverberg said. "Developing a partnership with them enabled us to use what we've learned over the last four years in actual practice."

Marlene Bosworth, the coordinator of the Delaware River WRAPS, was equally grateful to receive the students' help. Bosworth's background in science helped her understand the issue facing her organization and community; but at times she needed help translating the issues into a communication plan that the general population could understand. Bosworth learned how to effectively communicate with her audiences and the PR students learned about an environmental issue facing Kansans today.

"The students who worked with us last semester learned a lot about water issues that may very well translate into personal interest in water or environmental issues later on in their personal lives and perhaps even their careers," Bosworth said.

The students not only gained interest in environmental issues, but also a place to test their creativity. Assistant Professor Nancy Muturi, the instructor of PR Campaigns, explained that a non-profit environment offers communications professionals much more personal freedom than a corporate business could offer.

"Communications students are very creative, and I guess that is why they chose the major in the first place," Muturi said. "Our community partners who have very limited resources and who lack the expertise in communication areas are always looking forward to student contributions."

These contributions are especially valuable because Bosworth and her staff will use them on a daily basis.

"In some ways community service learning is better than an internship because the students get put right onto a real project that will result in a product that we will actually use extensively in our work," Bosworth said.

WRAPS works to improve water quality by determining water quality problems, prioritizing issues, creating a cost effective plan, and implementing the plan. WRAPS seeks to involve local individuals in the decision-making process to empower citizens to be elements of change in their communities.