Campus Engagement in Our Unit SERVICE and LEARNING provides the greatest potential to influence student development academically and socially Sun, 15 May 2005 13:02:08 -0500 Pekin Corridor Plan Tue, 22 Jan 2019 14:37:00 +0000 In late November, University of Illinois Extension collaborated with Hanson Engineering, City of Pekin, and UIUC Department of Urban and Regional Planning in conducting a planning study.

The study looked at the area's needs, assets and opportunities with the focus on better serving residents, visitors and businesses who use the street regularly. The planning process examined issues such as walkability, street beautification, parking needs, traffic calming and safety. The idea is to improve the quality of life on Derby.

Teresa Anderson, a UIUC Masters' student, is part of the Hanson team as a mentee. Ms. Anderson is looking to use Derby Street as her Capstone Project. After the completion of the Derby Street Corridor Plan and Revitalization Project, Ms. Anderson will have experience in several of the identified necessary expertise areas. Both Hanson and Common Ground are looking forward to the opportunity of giving back to the industry through mentoring Ms. Anderson and incorporating her fresh perspective into the Derby Street Plan.

Derby Street is a thriving commercial corridor and the gateway to southern Pekin. The project represents the first comprehensive planning study ever taken to address the unique challenges that make this street vital to the Pekin community.

A community steering committee made up of residents and businesses and interested parties who are directly affected by activities on Derby Street. Were engaged in the planning activity.

The planning project is an excellent example of community collaboration and campus engagement. Hanson Engineering and the City of Pekin have provided exceptional support in creating this programming partnership, establishing a solid foundation for community and student learning.

The engagement work demonstrates how the university can be responsive to a critical community need. This programming cuts across the university's mission of teaching, research and service.

Derby Street Corridor Plan & Revitalization Study Final Report.

Hanna City and Dunlap Host University of Illinois Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism Planning Studio Fri, 11 May 2018 06:53:00 +0000 (Peoria, IL) On Monday, April 30 Hanna City and Dunlap hosted University of Illinois Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism community recreation planning class. The exhibition was part of Rural Peoria Coalition of Municipalities and Township (RPCCMT), a public engagement effort to improve the vitality of smaller towns through community-driven projects. RPCCMT has recently obtained its nonprofit status and has identified recreational planning as its first project. This recreation planning project illustrates some of the ways RPCCMT plans to support mutually beneficial community development initiatives for rural communities.

U of I students from Professor Lara Browning's recreation planning studio, along with University of Illinois Extension have been working alongside community leaders from Dunlap and Hanna City to develop an outdoor recreation plan for each of the communities. The plans will assist in creating a strategic vision for recreational services.

Just as water, sewer, and public safety are considered essential public services, parks are vitally important to establishing and maintaining the quality of life in a community. Studies show that well-planned parks and recreation systems can serve as a catalyst for economic development. Access to parks and recreation facilities and active transportation infrastructure can increase property values, foster job creation, and provide a foundation for place-based economic development.

The connection between the city and the university, facilitated by University of Illinois Extension, Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell Unit, demonstrates the benefits for both students and community members when they engage in complex issues together. "The students gain so much from these interactions. They talk to people from all walks of life – neighborhood residents, local engineers and architects – people they don't usually hear from as a part of their classwork," says Extension Educator Kathie Brown. "I think that's the piece where Extension can enrich the campus experience in so many ways, because of this collaborative engagement with the community."



Healthy Neighborhood Revitalization in Peoria, Illinois Tue, 15 Aug 2017 17:21:00 +0000
  • This report contextualizes socioeconomic conditions within Census Tract 24 (which encompasses most of the research area) and compares these with the overall socioeconomic conditions in the city of Peoria.
  • Provides an overview of interview responses from residents and business owners in the neighborhood. This section details major themes including Positive Aspects of the Neighborhood, Opportunities for Improvement, Opinions about the city of Peoria, and Interviewee Visions for the Future.
  • Highlights responses from three separate surveys given to residents, middle-school aged youths, and local business owners or managers of public institutions. This section also shows major themes that emerge in surveys and interviews including the following:• Good Neighbors• Inexpensive cost of home ownership• Close to amenities/friends• Absentee Landlords/Need for Better Property Upkeep• Need for Community Cohesion/Spaces to Build Social Capital• Need for Increased Neighborhood Safety.
  • Provides recommendations based on themes that emerged in the research. These recommendations include the following:• Address Blight and Absentee Landlords• Increase Community Safety, and• Increase Opportunities for Community-Building• Explore possibilities for partnerships with local nonprofit hospitals. The recommendations present a vision for a neighborhood that promotes mental and physical health through community togetherness and support, safety, and upkeep of housing stock.
  • Discusses final report presentation provided to Von Steuben Middle School PTO.

Each opportunity for engagement with the neighborhood provided a rich learning exchange for both neighborhood residents and Rachel Wilson, UIUC Graduate student. This reciprocal learning exchange is our primary purpose for conducting campus engagement activities.  Neighborhood Association, School Administration, Students, Churches, East Bluff Neighborhood Center and Community Development/Planning Staff City of Peoria were active partners promoting learning and discovery.

The plan provides recommendations that can be implemented using a phased in approach, each step seeking to strengthen community leadership and strengthen opportunities for improved health in the built environment.

Healthy Neighborhood Revitalization in Peoria, Illinois.

Kathleen Brown Extension Educator Community & Economic Development -

Design Proposal Peoria Food Hub Mon, 17 Jul 2017 16:23:00 +0000 UIUC School of Architecture planning study, during Spring 2017 was designed to comprehend, summarize, and catalyze the region's growing interest in improving their local food system, specifically within the Peoria's South Side neighborhood, through economic strategies targeted at supporting a healthy community.

University of Illinois Extension worked to facilitate, UIUC School of Architecture's engagement with City of Peoria and community leaders. Graduate students Michael Osterloo and Drew Nuding, completed this research study overseen by Professor Lynne Dearborn, this project builds on work completed in the Spring 2016 graduate design studio: Realizing a Healthy "Heart of Peoria," ARCH572. This work identified the importance to public health of enhancing the built environment's relationship with South Side Neighborhood residents through the growth of an urban farming community.

A system of supports across the stages of urban farming production will enable vibrant agricultural economic development through education, training, and marketing assistance while simultaneously building on three of the South Side Neighborhood's greatest assets: vacant land, under-utilized property, and human resources.

The final report consists of case study analyses of multiple facilities in the Midwest region to investigate the variety of business models and programming requirements seen in the industries of small-scale urban farming, commissary kitchens, and agricultural incubators. The second phase of this study explores renovation opportunities of existing structures in Peoria and proposes a phased conceptual design solution that accommodates the programmatic goals of a facility for agricultural business incubation.

This agricultural incubation service primarily aims to enhance social interaction within the local community and to help build social capital that will contribute to successful small business development—this work aligns with current work efforts by City of Peoria Innovation Team, Invest Health, Regional Food Policy Council, and Gifts in the Moment. Key goals for development include:

  • Expand markets (Community Supported Agriculture, farmer's markets, and wholesale) for beginning urban growers
  • Increase financial viability through value added product line development for small family and urban growers with availability of a licensed commissary kitchen
  • Improve the livability of the community through green infrastructure and through reduced crime in areas adjacent to agricultural centers.
  • Create a teaching kitchen that could provide hands-on training for culinary medicine classes for students and neighborhood residents.

The report and conceptual design serves as a catalyst for an urban food hub in the Peoria Region.


Kathleen Brown, Community & Economic Development Educator, at

Assessing Downtown Canton Mon, 28 Nov 2016 08:34:00 +0000 Assessing Downtown Canton report represents a collaborative effort between Canton Main Street, Uni­versity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University of Illinois Extension. The assessment was conducted in the sum­mer of 2014 to provide technical assis­tance for revitalization efforts in Canton, Illinois. The analysis was utilized to guide downtown economic development initiatives.

The assessment has three parts. The first part analyses the issues and challenges Canton faces by looking into some key demographics. The sec­ond part conducts a downtown market analysis to gauge the possibilities of revitalization based on a retail focus.The market analysis uses a retail assessment framework developed by University of Minnesota Extension, Ohio State University Extension, and University of Wiscon­sin-Extension. The market analysis draws upon quantitative and qualitative approaches to identi­fy retail expansion and recruitment opportunities for Downtown Canton.

The third part of this study explores the possibil­ities of revitalizing Downtown Canton by look­ing at factors that influence the retail market. This part was the focus of the summer workshop course where students focused on a number of variables responsible for making a downtown more resilient. The assessment for resiliency fol­lowed a framework introduced by Michael Bu­rayidi in his book Resilient Downtowns – A New Approach to Revitalizing Small- and Medium-City Downtowns. This includes exploring the possi­bilities of improvements in retail development, downtown living, immigration, heritage and cul­tural tourism, civic and cultural amenities, down­town design, and leadership and partnerships.

The Assessing Downtown Canton report can be found on our website

American Planning Association Illinois Chapter Student Award Wed, 09 Nov 2016 11:14:00 +0000 When first-year Master of Urban Planning student Marcia Klopf began her search for a master's capstone project, she was looking for a project which would combine her interests in historic preservation and urban design. Through Kathie Brown, a University of Illinois Extension Educator for Community and Economic Development (serving Fulton, Mason, Peoria and Tazewell Counties), Marcia found the perfect match—The City of Washington. Beginning the project in November 2014, one year after an EF-4 tornado devastated parts of the small Central Illinois community, Marcia focused on Washington's historic commercial downtown. The goal was to protect the City of Washington's historic downtown Square and to celebrate its historic resources.

Through this community engagement project,a comprehensive group of materials developed, covering the National Register of Historic Places, local designation, design guidelines, and a resource book, all interwoven with outstanding public participation. The following documents were created in the course of this project, which can serve as a tool for other communities looking to preserve their historic downtown:

Washington Historic Commercial Square: Preliminary Application for National Register listing;

• National Register Determination for Washington Square Commercial Historic District;

• Washington Historic District Survey (158 people, 19 questions);

• Washington Historic Commercial Square Survey Results;

Washington Historic Survey Summary Results;

Washington Historic Preservation Ordinance (Local Historic District Designation);

Washington Square Commercial Historic District Design Review Guidelines; and

Washington Square Commercial Local Historic District Resource Book.

Working with U of I Extension and the City of Washington, Planning and Zoning Director Jon Oliphant, Marcia participated in more than 20 public meetings, including those with property owners, the Historic Preservation Commission, the Chamber of Commerce, and City Council. Extensive public participation, including a survey (targeted to residents of, employees of, and visitors to the historic Square), was effectively used to ensure understanding, transparency, and support of the new designation of a Local Commercial Historic District. Education worked in tandem with public participation to ensure a successful project. Because of the high quality and comprehensiveness of this planning effort, this project was selected as the 2016 American Planning Association Illinois Chapter Student Award.

For more information about the Community and Economic Development programs in the Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell Extension Unit, please contact Kathleen Brown, Extension Educator,at or 309-255-9189.

Peoria Named Finalist in Play Everywhere Challenge Mon, 03 Oct 2016 17:14:00 +0000 In July, City of Peoria was selected as a finalist in the Play Everywhere Challenge, a $1 million national competition that will award outside-the-box ideas to make play easy, available, and fun for kids and families in cities across the U.S. The Challenge is hosted by KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of all children, particularly those growing up in poverty in America. The project titled Lots of Fun! was selected as a finalist out of a pool of more than 1,000 applications nationwide.

University of Illinois School of Architecture professor Lynne Dearborn collaborated with University of Illinois Extension educator Kathie Brown to implement her spring studio course in Peoria as part of a cross campus initiative designed to enrich student learning and address complex community issues such as health in the built environment. Students in the studio course provided initial ideas for the winning design concept. Kathie Brown, University of Illinois Extension educator, facilitated community engagement with City of Peoria, neighborhood residents, and organizations.

This effort aligns with the City of Peoria's overall goals for creating a green infrastructure to aid in storm water collection and creating healthy neighborhoods. Organizations working to implement the student concept included Peoria's Innovation Team, Peoria's Community Development departments, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Invest Health programming partners, Peoria County Health Department, and University of Illinois Extension. The team created an innovative plan to transform vacant lots in Peoria's Southside Neighborhood.

"The design transforms the lots into spaces that include interactive features such as bus stops, art installations, bike racks, and landscapes featured in the rendering," stated Kate Green, Project Manager City of Peoria Innovation Team. "The concept of the project is to re-imagine how features of the built environment can be both functional and fun at the same time while instilling the idea that play is possible everywhere."

Peoria's idea came from a passion for getting kids more involved in physical activity and art. Even though the project was not selected as a winner in the challenge, the team continues to work towards other funding options to help the Lots of Fun! project come to life.

To learn more about the Play Everywhere Challenge, including a gallery of ideas for what Play Everywhere could look like across the U.S., visit

For more information about the Designing Healthy Communities cross campus initiative project read the June 2016 Extension Snapshot at