The award is presented to a Community Development Society student in recognition of his or her contribution to the community development field through a paper, article, field project, internship or other applied research.
Porth’s project is about working with rural communities to revitalize their downtowns. He worked specifically with Ashland and Brookfield, Mo.
“My work in downtown revitalization may cause one to conjure up visions of new stores and buildings rising from decaying downtowns,” Porth said. “My work in downtown revitalization is a people process. Through it, I work with rural communities to encourage and support people to make decisions about their community and to see those decisions bear fruit. While it is more realistic to envision downtown revitalization as a progression of facilitating decision-making steps, it actually involves commitment and work that finally results in a dynamic downtown.”
This project took place over the past year during Porth’s time as a graduate student at MU. Since then, Porth has graduated from MU and began working for University of Missouri Extension as the Regional Community Arts Specialist in Lexington. This allows Porth to work with rural communities, exploring the idea of using the arts as a form of community and economic development.
“It is a tremendous honor to be presented with this award and while it’s an individual award, it really speaks to my co-workers in ExCEED (University of Missouri Extension’s Community Economic and Entrepreneurial Development) and the people in the communities that I work with every day,” Porth said. “Without them and their support, I wouldn’t be able to do the type of work that I enjoy doing.”