By Chandler Condra, HPU senior
BROWNWOOD – June 11, 2015 – Nine Howard Payne University students recently presented their findings of a semester-long project to Brownwood City Council. Under the leadership of Dr. Kevin Kelley, assistant professor of organizational psychology, the students accepted a consulting project for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department to create, market and implement a survey polling the opinion of local residents on Brownwood parks.
The proposition of consulting Brownwood on a city project was brought to Emily Crawford, then executive director of Brownwood Economic Development Corporation, in August by Dr. Kelley.
“Students learn best when they apply their knowledge to an actual project and what better place to do so than the marketplace of business and government?” said Dr. Kelley. “We did this project so students could learn from doing and not just from reading.”
After a period of review and consideration, Crawford had the project in mind and prepared a request for proposal for the students of Dr. Kelley’s organization behavior class. After evaluating the request for proposal during the first class period of spring, the students were given the option to accept or refuse the project opportunity.
“It’s important that students decided on their own whether or not they want to accept a project because with ownership comes personal responsibility and motivation,” said Dr. Kelley.
The students agreed to the project and submitted their proposal to the city. Once the proposal was accepted, the students began drafting the hard copy and digital formats of the survey. Public awareness was raised through posters hung at local parks and businesses, a local texting service and even Facebook advertisements. Additionally, Dr. Kelley and class participant Victoria Krawczynski, a May graduate from San Antonio, promoted the project on local radio stations. The survey was available from late-February to early-April and received a total of 1,118 responses, compared to the city’s last Parks and Recreation Department survey which yielded about 300 responses.
“We had students interacting directly with the client and other students taking team leads based on their own strengths,” said Dr. Kelley. “One student, Chandler Condra (senior from Fredericksburg), took the initiative to be the media relations lead, of which he already had extensive knowledge from his collegiate experience. I enjoyed that because he brought forward ideas, such as Facebook ads and a local text service, which gave us an enormous amount of respondents and helped culminate in the success of the project.”
The organization behavior class tasked with the project was studying human behavior in organizations with emphasis on motivation, communication and leadership.
“Learning how to work with others in engaging in a consulting project truly is about teamwork, relationships and motivation,” said Dr. Kelley. “I tried to stand back as much as possible and let the students succeed on their own and learn through personal experience.”
Summer King, a senior from Brownwood, was one of the student project managers and also served as liaison between City Council and the team. She believes the project was an invaluable experience.
“Doing this project was exciting because it allowed our class to gain real-world experience,” said King.
Additional class participants included Brittany Cavness, a May graduate from Lampasas; Burke Edwards, a May graduate from Plano; the late Kellee Greenwood from Brownwood; Adam Lloyd, a senior from Brownwood; Kelcie Lloyd, a senior from Brownwood; Natali Maldonado, a May graduate from Brownwood; and Sean Locker, a May graduate from North Richland Hills.
Once the survey was completed, the data was collated and presented to City Council. According to the results, Brownwood residents prefer Coggin and Riverside Parks to others and believe that parks can be improved by adding walking trails, swimming locations and more lights at existing parks.
The information gleaned from the survey will be instrumental in developing the city’s new 10-year master plan, which aids fund appropriation from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. City Council subsequently approved the acceptance of a $200,000 grant from the TPWD. Dr. Kelley believes this result fulfills the mission of HPU.
“As a Christian university, it is our responsibility and privilege to be active in our community,” said Dr. Kelley. “Our students need to avail themselves to service. That forwards our Christian mission and demonstrates that our students are not just here to learn but to serve.”
Photo cutline: Nine HPU students recently assisted the City of Brownwood’s Parks and Recreation Department with a semester-long project. The students and Dr. Kevin Kelley (standing in back) are pictured at City Hall. Left to right: Adam Lloyd, Kelcie Lloyd, Brittany Cavness, Victoria Krawczynski, Kellee Greenwood, Summer King, Burke Edwards, Sean Locker and Chandler Condra.