IU center collaborates to improve lives of Hoosiers


Indiana University is compiling an inventory of Dubois County’s parks and recreation facilities, and the university’s Center for Rural Engagement will make the information available to the public in the spring.

The Center for Rural Engagement, in collaboration with the university’s Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands, is developing a comprehensive inventory and map of the public, nonprofit and private facilities in 11 counties. The counties, which the center calls the Indiana Uplands, include Dubois, Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen and Washington.

“We are very interested in Dubois County,”’ said Kyla Cox Deckard, director of communications for the center. “It has some really great resources when it comes to parks and recreation. We’re interested in learning about how that is working and working well in the county.”

The inventory will document the parks, reservoirs, forests, conservation and land trust properties; community recreation programs; and recreation facilities like ballfields, community centers and gymnasiums located in each county.

Researchers from the center have already met with community leaders and representatives in Dubois County.

“[The researchers] come up with a list of assets that they already know about,” Deckard said. “And then they have conversations with community leaders to make sure they have truly documented everything that exists in the way of parks, public lands and recreational resources.”

The researchers will be collecting the information through early spring, in hopes of having the inventory completed in the spring.

“We’re hoping to make [the inventory] available online, depending on how deep and how extensive the resources are, as far as creating a system that will support that,” Deckard said. “It may be something that may need to be pulled on request, depending on how large the files are. We’re working to make as much of that information as readily available as possible.”

The Indiana University Center Rural Engagement launched in March. Its mission is work with rural communities and small regional cities to improve the lives of Hoosiers.

“We are focused on three areas right now: health and wellness, resilience and quality of place,” Deckard said. “We’re looking at ways to collaborate with communities on projects that fall within those focus areas. The parks project falls into all three of those categories.”

The center will also work on other initiatives that fall within those categories. A rural arts initiative is also underway, focusing on developing and executing an arts series in three small regional cities; Huntingburg is one of the cities targeted.

“We think that Huntingburg is an area that has welcomed the idea of exploring the arts,” Deckard said. “We’re looking forward to launching an arts series within Huntingburg to help us to learn how to launch something like this in similar rural communities across the region and the state.”

Information about the arts series and the specific programs will be released at a later date, as they are currently in the works.

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