Small Missouri communities, like many in rural America, experience a lot of out-migration. This means people often leave small towns in order to settle in others with greater opportunities.
Such out-migration can limit the economic and social opportunities that small towns have to offer.
The community of Seymour, Missouri, is among those facing this struggle.
“The community once boasted a vibrant town square full of shops, stores and a pavilion that was the heart of social activity,” Evans said. “Today, like so many other towns in rural Missouri, the square hosts just a few open storefronts. It’s a skeleton of its former lively self.”
In the spring 2020 semester, Evans’ students created the Seeds for Downtown Success: Downtown Plan for Seymour, MO to address these concerns in the community.
“Their encompassing plan for revitalizing downtown Seymour included strategies to incentivize economic opportunities, attract tourism, develop cultural events and encourage the arts,” Evans said. “The students featured steps and a timeline for achieving these goals, in addition to suggestions for funding sources.”
The class recently won the 2020 American Planning Association (APA) Missouri Chapter Award for Outstanding Student Project for their efforts.
Eleven undergraduate students in the spring 2020 capstone planning course of the community and regional planning program contributed to the plan. They include:
- Aytchie Jansen.
- Bryce McLean.
- Jacob Phillips.
- Justin Smith.
- Kortney Bliss.
- Michael Baird.
- Rachel Krispin.
- Ryan Wissmann.
- Scott Hayes.
- Theodore Schwalenberg.
- Tyler Wilson.
“I’m very proud of these students. They showed they can successfully apply planning knowledge and skills to a real-world project,” Evans said. “And I’m especially pleased that they were able to create such an excellent plan despite the ongoing pandemic. They did impressive work to engage and empower the Seymour community.”
About the APA Missouri Chapter Award for Outstanding Student Project
The award recognizes student projects that contribute knowledge of planning to contemporary issues. Recipients of the award best apply the planning process and research.
To be eligible, projects must primarily involve the work of students, with limited faculty guidance.