SRU students help Butler Township plan new sports complex
A graphic designed by Slippery Rock University student Dimera Little was part of a communication plan that a group of SRU students provided Butler Township officials to engage its residents about the development of a news sports complex.
May 17, 2021
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — Residents of a local community are having their recreational needs met because of the work of Slippery Rock University students. Butler Township officials drew on the expertise of students in a Public Relations and Integrated Marketing Communication Capstone course this spring to help them analyze needs and develop plans for a sports complex that is being built in the Pullman Business Park in Butler.
"The goal of our campaign is to inform Butler Township residents on the development of a new sports complex and include their input regarding activities offered to the public," said Alanna Rygelski, a senior dual communication and dance major from Glenshaw. "This was a great project because I love helping people, being of service to others and being able to help my team members achieve our goal."
Five students from the class worked on the project, which involved research, administering a survey to residents, forming and interviewing a focus group and establishing a communication plan to further engage community members. Because Butler Township is funding half of the $3.75 million to build the sports complex on 19 acres of land that it acquired in 2019, it was important for the township to determine which types of facilities would best provide for the community.
Although the specific designations are yet to be determined, the ongoing input that the SRU students started collecting from residents will be helpful to the township officials in deciding which facilities will comprise the complex, whether it's jogging trails, pickleball courts or an artificial turf, multipurpose field.
"As a team, we're all really excited to come back one day and see the finished product," Rygelski said. "For a lot of us, this is our first real-world experience and we all feel grateful to be a part of something this big."
Allison Peiritsch, SRU assistant professor of strategic communication and media, has facilitated clients for students in the class to develop and pitch marketing campaigns that the clients later implement after the conclusion of the course. Butler Township has continually partnered with students from the course in recent years on projects such as recruiting volunteer firefighters and raising awareness for changes to the township's garbage and recycling collections.
"This has been a great opportunity for students to work with real-world clients and develop a campaign that has the potential to be implemented and effect meaningful change in the community," Peiritsch said. "There is mutual benefit from the pro bono work that our students provide a variety of clients. Butler Township has been a great partner and the commissioners recognize the value our students provide."
Peiritsch, Rygelski and Patrick O'Connor, a senior communication major from Cranberry Township, were recently interviewed by WISR-AM of the Butler Radio Network, along with Dave Zarnick, Butler Township commissioner.
"We are always impressed with the caliber of (SRU) students that work with the township and present to us," Zarnick told WISR-AM news anchor Tracey Morgan. "It truly is rewarding to Butler Township to be able to work with students and partner together for the community to bring forth a worthwhile project."
Zarnick said the partnership has saved the township work and money as students provided officials a "roadmap" to follow as they engage with community members.
Other students who were involved with the project included Morgan Miller, a senior communication major from Tarentum; Dimera Little, a senior communication major from Pittsburgh; and Dillon Mohr, a senior communication major from Erie. Rygelski was the project manager, O'Connor was the researcher, Miller was the writer, Little was the designer and Mohr was the presenter.
To learn more about the project, listen to a recording of the WISR-AM interview. More information about the strategic communication and media at SRU is available on the department's webpage.
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