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Dec. 6, 2013
Students at Northwest Missouri State University are learning what it takes to write a successful grant application and laying the groundwork for projects that will benefit students and community members in the process.
While the elective course is not new to Northwest, the five students enrolled in grantsmanship this fall found success in their work. Each student was responsible for drafting three project proposals, including one as a group, and each student received funding for at least one of his or her grant proposals. Together, the students’ proposals are worth more than $550,000.
“Even though it’s called grantsmanship, it’s really about writing proposals and getting support for projects,” Dr. Terry Robertson, the course’s instructor and a professor of recreation, said. “As a group, they’ve been really productive. We talked about hoping you were 30 percent funded, so to have everybody be virtually funded at least once, if not very possibly three times, is pretty impressive, and it’s a credit to what they did. They have to do the work, not me.”
The students were responsible for writing one proposal to receive funding from Northwest’s undergraduate or graduate research funds and one proposal for a non-profit group, in addition to the grant proposal they drafted as a group.
Taylor Hartong, a senior public relations major from Savannah, secured funding from South Paws Veterinary Clinic and Walmart through a proposal she wrote for the Children and Family Center of Northwest Missouri. Hartong’s proposal raised awareness about the Children and Family Center’s efforts to allow victims of abusive relationships to bring their pets when staying at the shelter. The funding helped the Children and Family Center purchase an outdoor kennel, food, portable carriers, a grooming table and other items for use at the shelter.
Hartong said she was inspired to take the grantsmanship course after completing a summer internship with Susan G. Komen, the non-profit breast cancer organization, in Kansas City. This fall, she was looking for some extra coursework to enhance her skills, including her writing and ability to build professional relationships.
Hartong said she was nervous about the idea of asking businesses for funding initially, but she soon realized the importance of writing to a targeted audience with a focused intention. In addition to learning to write successful grant proposals, the students worked to build relationships with individuals who could provide necessary funding as well as the people who would benefit from it.
“This class took me out of my comfort zone, and I feel more prepared to not only write additional grants but also to see a need in my community and fill it,” Hartong said.
Similarly, Christina Incontro, a graduate student from Lincoln, Neb., pursuing a master’s degree in applied health and sport science with an emphasis in wellness, determined a need for collection bins in local schools to assist Big Brothers Big Sisters of Nodaway County. Working with Big Brothers Big Sisters Program Director Lynette Harbin, Incontro visited the schools with educational materials she produced and collected survey data.
Other successful grant proposals the students wrote were aimed at kickstarting fundraising efforts for a Tom-Watson designed junior golf course and playground resurfacing at Mozingo Lake Recreation Area and raising awareness of suicide prevention programs at Northwest. Students also completed research projects to evaluate the purchase of basketballs for the Student Rec Center and freshmen students’ use of campus fitness facilities.
Calvin Patterson, who is working on his master’s degree in health and sport science with a sports management emphasis, put his tennis knowledge to work by researching the durability of tennis balls.
“Each year the tennis team at Northwest and the recreation department spend thousands of dollars on tennis balls,” Patterson said. “From playing tennis for years, players know each tennis ball is very different in both durability and playability. The study is designed to see which tennis balls last the longest, hopefully saving the athletics and recreation departments money for years to come.”
For their group project, the students brainstormed projects that might benefit a group of students on the Northwest campus. The grantsmanship students eventually centered on the large group of international students who regularly play pickup games of cricket in a parking lot on the northeast edge of the campus.
The more research they did, the students discovered considerable support for a regulation cricket field at Northwest. A survey the grantsmanship students distributed in October was completed by nearly 100 percent of Northwest’s international student population in just a couple days, with 94 percent of them supporting the proposal.
The students also researched amenities for the proposed field and regional interest in the sport. They discovered about 90 cricket teams exist in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri.
“We could have clubs, an intramural sport and host tournaments,” said Aaron Brayman, who is pursuing a master’s degree in recreation. “It’s just another way to sell Maryville and the school.”
As the course concludes, the students say they gained substantial knowledge of the grant-writing process and established a new set of skills they will carry with them into their future careers. They students also discovered the different ways they can give back to the communities in which they live.
“This class helped me realize there are so many ways you can help others,” said Valyssa Stark, of Maryville, who is pursuing a master’s degree in applied health science. “Just watching the five of us in the class work hard and research ways to help people, it opened my eyes to that truth. I’m grateful for that and feel blessed for the opportunity to serve others.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468