Dr. Lauri M. Baker and Dr. Cheryl Boyer, with the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement (CREE), presented their insights on communicating research to communities at the Engagement Symposium. This event was held at the K-State Student Union on April 12.
The event brought campus researchers together to share their insights and encourage the conversation on how to best address communities’ most pressing issues. It was sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy, the Center for Engagement and Community Development, and the Staley School of Leadership Studies. For more information on the event, you can visit http://www.k-state.edu/cecd/events/symposium/.
CREE executive directors, Baker and Boyer, shared their experiences on community engagement with a presentation titled, “Working with Rural Agricultural Businesses to Identify New and Social Media Needs”.
Baker and Boyer spoke about how they engage the community while making progress on research and addressing the communities’ needs. The two also highlighted their recommendations for growing involvement.
Tips for moving engaged scholarship to larger audiences:
1. “Do it slowly! This isn’t a race.”
– They started specifically with horticultural growers and retail garden centers.
– As the team’s knowledge and capacity grew, they expanded in to new audiences slowly.
– They opened workshops and trainings to a broader audience but haven’t began to research those audiences.
The executive directors of CREE built the vision around the extension mission of teaching, research, and extension. During the early stages of development, the team noticed there was an opportunity to work with horticultural growers and retail garden centers on the use of new and social media. This led the team to research new and social media techniques and how to best share those with a target audience.
These tips combined with the team’s unique perspective puts the organization at an advantage when it comes to engaging the public.
“We really try to take the angle of doing ‘research with’ a group or community versus conducting ‘research on’, which allows our research to be more community based,” Baker says.
There are multiple aspects that differentiate one research project from the next while still sharing the goal of community engagement. Each researcher wants to make an impression and by engaging in this conversation, K-State can continue to make an impact.
Baker is an associate professor in communications and agricultural education and Boyer is an associate professor in horticulture and natural resources. CREE has a third executive director, Dr. Hikaru Peterson. Peterson is a professor in agricultural economics at the University of Minnesota. For more information on CREE, visit ruralengagement.org.