Otsego County examines quality of life - Part 2

Michigan State University Extension provides leadership for youth quality of life component.

The Quality of Life Assessment committee in Otsego county, Mich. recently completed and compiled its resident survey. The purpose of the survey was to obtain public opinion and perception on the quality of life in Otsego County. The survey was one of various ways to collect data for this project. The results will be widely shared in the hopes that individuals and organizations will use the information to take actions which will ensure Otsego County will be a desired place to live and work.

A 68-question opinion survey was mailed to 1167 citizens of Otsego County in November 2011 and received a nearly 50 percent return rate. The survey sample was randomly drawn from individuals who voted in the 2008 general election. Additionally, an on-line resident opinion survey was also conducted using the same questions and was open to all residents in Otsego County.

When responses were compiled, questions related to youth stood out from the others. Four of the youth-related questions received more than 30 percent “don’t know” responses, which could reflect the high number of respondents age 50 and over. However, quality of life is dependent on children and youth receiving strong support from the community. As a result of those answers, a Quality of Life Youth Component was created and is currently being led by MSU Extension Educator Bethany Prykucki and Otsego County Community Foundation Director Dana Bensinger.

Prykucki and Bensinger convened a group of twelve high school students, for four hours over their spring break and will be meeting again on May 6 to finalize how to involve teens and bring the opinions of their peers into the overall quality of life of Otsego County. The group has created the infrastructure for collecting peer input, including collecting community photos, creating a Facebook Page and designing a marketing and outreach plan. The follow-up meeting will focus on what specific information youth hope to obtain from their peers and what will be the specific methods they use to collect this information.

The Weekly Choice highlighted the group in its April ‘12 issue. The group will have until September to complete any projects it undertakes and provide a report of its findings to the Quality of Life Committee.

To read the first part of this article series, see “Otsego County examines quality of life.”

MSU Extension’s community engagement and leadership development team can offer supplemental educational programming for community based projects such as these. To learn more about this and other programs contact an expert in your area, visit people.msue.msu.edu, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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