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Center for Engagement and Community Development

2015 Engagement Incentive Grant Recipients

The Office of the Provost and the Center for Engagement and Community Development announced the recipients of the 2015 Engagement Incentive Grant Program. Established in 2006, Engagement Incentive Grants act as seed grants. They encourage K-State Research and Extension specialists, agents, and faculty to do engaged research, teaching and service.

CECD defines engagement as, "The partnership of university knowledge and resources with those of the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research, and creative activity; enhance curriculum, teaching, and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values, and civic responsibility; address critical societal issues; and contribute to the public good." (Association of Public and Land Grant Universities White Paper on Engagement, 2011.)

The 2015 Engagement Incentive Grants are:

Reaching New Audiences in 4-H, led by Dr. Debra Bolton, KSRE Specialist.

This outreach project provides opportunities to the youth of Southwest Kansas and their families. Bolton hopes that over the next two years Hispanic 4-H students and parents will travel to campus to understand “how to successfully access higher education and connect with university mentors.”

On-campus visits include Multicultural Pride Day and Career and College Readiness Day. 4-H seeks to involve underserved youth and their parents as well. The project increases college readiness and opens participants to available resources. Research shows that a majority of the target audience believe in the benefits of more education, yet only six percent report having a college or university degree.

The promotion of higher education for impoverished, bilingual students enables them to enter doors not open to them before. This leads to careers that best suit their unique talents and promotes multiculturalism.

In her endorsement, Assistant Dean and Director Dr. Zelia Wiley wrote “it is our responsibility to lead our faculty and expand opportunities for multicultural students by increasing awareness of cultural sensitivity.”

InDependent: Creating a healthy, thriving community of military spouses led by Dr. Emily L. Mailey, Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology.

The study is facilitating the development of a web-based program. This site serves the needs of military spouses, an often underserved population in the military.

The team will develop a 12-week curriculum that features at home workouts, meal and activity planners, and a discussion board. All components promote healthy behaviors to strengthen the military family. The aim is to enroll 200 local military spouses.

The web-based program will promote teams of 5-8 group members and a team captain. The purpose is to develop leadership and cooperation. The individual and group objectives “provide instrumental and emotional support to each other, and ultimately work together to achieve collective health improvement,” said Mailey.

Long-term, Mailey plans to extend the reach of support beyond the boundaries of Fort Riley. Due to the program’s web-based nature, it will be possible to reach military spouses all over the country.

Engaging Kansas produce growers in strengthening on-farm produce safety and quality education and outreach, led by Dr. Londa Nwadike, Assistant Professor and Extension Food Specialist.

This study promotes materials designed by KSU researchers and Extension personnel. Small scale Kansas produce growers can improve their produce safety and quality systems.

The program allows Kansas farmers to contribute information used to create food safety plans that fit the needs of each grower.

Additionally, Extension agents will be taught to train other produce growers. This will help the growers improve produce quality and meet strict food safety requirements. They can also meet the requirements of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. The benefits extend to many farmers, who, Nwadike reports “have expressed that they feel overwhelmed by these food safety requirements and do not know where to turn for assistance.”

Community Engagement through Restorative Justice in Manhattan, KS led by Dr. Gregory Paul, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies and Thea Nietfeld, Salina Initiative for Restorative Justice.

Paul and Nietfeld introduce victim-offender conferencing (VOC) to the Manhattan juvenile justice system. Paul describes this study as “an outgrowth of several conversations surrounding our desire to understand attitudes towards restorative justice programming and to foster public deliberation on the issue of juvenile justice.”

The current method of trials for youths, even in the case of misdemeanors, does more harm than good. VOC encourages open dialogue between the victim and the offender through a facilitated meeting to discuss a solution. In VOC the offender is encouraged to take responsibility for their actions. The sense of responsibility results in fewer repeat offenses.

The project is a two-phase data collection. First, the development of an “issue guide” on processes appropriate for juvenile justice response. Secondly, a deliberation hosted for the Manhattan community. The discussion consists of restorative justice responses to juvenile offenders. Findings will prove the effectiveness of VOCs and serve for future statewide deliberations.

Tap To Togetherness: Community‐based participatory research using kinesthetic learning among families and their young children. This project is led by Julie L. Pentz, Assistant Professor in the School of Music, Theater, and Dance, Bradford Wiles, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Early Childhood Development and Janice Schroeder, Parent Educator, Parents as Teachers.

The purpose of this project is to build positive family relationships. Pentz will host bi-weekly tap dance sessions for children ages one to pre-kindergarten and their parents.

The children and parents learn tap dance step by step. The interactions are the basis for new thinking and learning about parenting.

There will also be an online presence for families to continue to grow outside of the tap studio. Towards the end of the project, there will be options to submit feedback to discover what did and did not work in terms of positive family interaction.

Pentz anticipates positive outcomes as parents “engage with their children with specific, evidence‐based guidance on facilitating positive learning and social outcomes for children.”