What Does Our Community Need?
What does our community need? I am often asked this question. It is a difficult question to answer because there is really no definitive answer. It really depends on the interests of the individual or group expressing their “needs.”
Obvious needs include food and clean water, shelter and warm clothing, available transportation and an income. Others might include electricity, access to technology and avenues to communicate and socialize. The list could go on, but the point is we don’t often think about the difference between a want and a need, nor do we often put ourselves in the shoes of others. We tend to focus on our individual or small group needs and we forget that others might feel differently. When creating programs for the community, these concepts must be taken into account at all times.
As Community Education Coordinator, I work for both the School District and the community. I continuously strive to find ways to link the two. An important part of this is to work with others to identify the needs of community members, and help address those needs through educational opportunities such as courses, seminars and special events. These programs are usually offered in School District facilities.
A group of citizens that has aided in the identification of needs is a fellowship of leaders from various community organizations. We call ourselves the Community Education Advisory Committee (CEAC). CEAC is made up of representatives from organizations such as The YMCA of the Northwoods, Oneida County 4-H, Treehaven, Nicolet College, Fort Wilderness, The Rhinelander Police Department and others. This group meets once every couple of months to discuss program ideas and ways to enhance community opportunities. The sharing of thoughts and ideas from multiple perspectives has been beneficial in identifying and addressing the needs of the community.
In recent years, the CEAC has helped identify six program categories. These categories are: Home and Hobbies, Personal and Family Well-being, Community and Culture, Environment and Conservation, Financial Health, and Academic Enrichment. Of course, a seventh category known as “other” exists to accommodate the programs that do not fall into the above categories.
For the School District’s Community Education Program, Home and Hobby programs have included jewelry making, candy making, floral arrangements and food canning, just to name a few. Others might include sewing or knitting, geocaching, or interior design classes.
Personal and Family Well-being might involve fitness classes such as Zumba or Yoga, or a dog training class for you and your furry friend. Healthy eating and nutrition classes would also fall under this category.
Community and Culture programs might include a bus trip to see a play or a sporting event. An activity that involved the showcasing of area art or music would also be included in this group.
Environment and Conservation is a topic of interest in the Northwoods. A community discussion about hunting or fishing, an environmental education club or an ATV or snowmobiling safety program would fall under this category. Outdoor recreation programs such as canoeing or cross country skiing might also be included.
Financial Health can be a category of interest. Everyone likes money and most of us are looking for ways to manage it better. A class offered on Raising a Money Smart Kid, Making Your Money Last, an Estate Planning Workshop, a Resume Building class or a class about Medicare would be interesting topics for this program group.
Finally, Academic Enrichment could include anything else the community might want to know about. For instance, computer and social media classes are very popular. A presentation about life-skills or a program about How to Handle People in the Workplace would be other examples from this category.
The opportunities are endless. The main thing is that the program has a passionate and knowledgeable leader who has a strong desire to share their interest or skill with others.
If you have a specific skill, hobby, passion, or interest and you would like to share it with others in the community, call 715-365-9745 or email at email@example.com.