NDSU Students Outline Strengths, Challenges In VC

After three months assessing Valley City, about 20 undergraduate and graduate students at North Dakota State University have come up with lists of community strengths and weaknesses included in an 11-chapter written report.

Students did the assessment as an assignment for Dr. Gary Goreham’s Community Assessment class.

Goreham is chairman of and professor in the NDSU sociology and anthropology department.

Students outlined results for advisory committee members Thursday in a meeting at the Sheyenne Valley Area Career and Technology Center.

Those meeting with the students included City Administrator David Schelkoph; Valley City School District Superintendent Dean Koppelman; Jennifer Feist, development director for the Valley City-Barnes County Development Corp.; Jeff Bopp, director of the technology center and a representative of the Valley City Times-Record.

General areas students looked at are natural capital; cultural capital; human capital; social capital; political capital; built capital and financial capital.

The 11-chapter assessment will be bound and copies presented to advisory committee members. Chapter 1 defines Valley City as a community, chapter 2 details the strategy of looking at Valley City, chapter 3 looks at cultural capital; chapter 4 looks at natural capital; chapter 5 looks at human capital; chapter 6 looks at social capital; chapter 7 looks at political capital; chapter 8 looks at financial capital; chapter 9 looks at built capital; chapter 10 looks at city and county governments and chapter 11 looked at community economic development organizations.
For natural capital students looked at air, soils, water quality and quantity, landscape and biodiversity with multiple uses.

For cultural capital, students looked at language, rituals, traditional crops and dress.

According to the assessment, for cultural capital, Valley City’s major strengths, resources and assets are the Barnes County Historical Society Museum; the local website at www.valleycitynd.com; there are 23 active churches; its geographic location; topographical variance from the rest of the region (Valley City is in a valley); the North Dakota Winter Show; Community Days; Rally in the Valley; school/youth athletics and the 2009 and 2011 floods because they brought the community together. Challenges as seen by students are difficulty developing an analysis of churches and faith groups within the community; little ethnic variation and geographic location.

For human capital, students assessed self-esteem, education, skills and health.

According to the assessment, for human capital Valley City’s major resources are VCSU; the Open Door Center; Job Service of North Dakota; Head Start; health systems; Motivation, Education and Training Inc.; the Valley City Adult Learning Center; Boy Scouts of America; 4-H clubs and SkillsUSA N.D.

For the look at social capital, students looked at at Valley City’s leadership, groups, bridging networks, bonding networks, trust and reciprocity.

According to the assessment, for social capital, Valley City’s major strength is a high level of social interactions between the newspaper, businesses, hospital, voluntary organizations, churches and schools.

For political capital, students looked at inclusion, voice and power.

According to the assessment, for political capital, Valley City’s major strengths, resources and assets are high levels of bonding and bridging, strong involvement of citizens especially in volunteer programs and strong and powerful leadership.

The major challenge seen by students is a low level of diversity.
For built capital, students assessed water systems, sewers, utilities and health systems in local infrastructure and housing.

Assets in built capital seen by students are bridges; fish hatcheries; recreational parks; a strong faith-based community; public works such as police and fire department facilities; non-profit organizations; VCSU; the skate park; a peaceful community with a low crime rate; golf courses; the North Dakota Winter Show; schools with low drop out rates and the Sheyenne River.

Finally, for financial capital, students took a look at income, wealth, security, credit and investment. Features affecting financial capital as seen by students included a declining population, increasing median income per household, the North Dakota Winter Show; Expansion of the John Deere Seeding Group plant and the North Dakota Army National Guard and its planned growth in Valley City.