Together, we build better communities.
Just as water, sewer, and public safety are considered essential public services, parks are vitally important to establishing and maintaining the quality of life in a community. Well-planned parks and recreation systems can serve as a catalyst for economic development. Access to parks and recreation facilities and active transportation infrastructure can increase property values, foster job creation, and provide a foundation for place-based economic development.
The hardest part is often knowing where to start.
In partnership with the University of Illinois Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism community recreation planning class, Illinois Extension can bring together the brain power to plan and implement your community recreation dreams. Evidence-based resources can help you get started:
- Rural Community Report 2022
- Rural Grant Guide (May 2023)
- Planning and Leading Effective Meetings
- Outdoor Recreation Participation Trends
- Rural Survey Example
It worked for Hanna City and Dunlap communities in Peoria County.
U of I students from Professor Lara Browning's recreation planning studio, along with University of Illinois Extension worked alongside community leaders from Dunlap and Hanna City to develop an outdoor recreation plan for each of the communities. The Village of Hanna City Recreation Plan Final Report and Village of Dunlap Recreation Plan Final Report help create a strategic vision for recreational services. The work was supported by the Rural Peoria Coalition of Municipalities and Township, a public engagement effort to improve the vitality of smaller towns through community-driven projects.
The connection between the city and the university, facilitated by University of Illinois Extension demonstrates the benefits for both students and community members when they engage in complex issues together. The students gain so much from these interactions. They talk to people from all walks of life – neighborhood residents, local engineers and architects – people they don't usually hear from as a part of their classwork. I think that's the piece where Extension can enrich the campus experience in so many ways, because of this collaborative engagement with the community. Kathie Brown, Illinois Extension Educator.