Jan. 25—VALDOSTA — The city has awarded a group of Valdosta State University students with city coins for their work on enhancing the city's Adopt-A-Street program and fostering greater community involvement.
Dr. David Nelson, VSU Communication Arts professor, has led students from his social media class into a partnership with the city's public information office for more than seven years, which has led to creative academic assignments.
For the fall 2022 semester, students were tasked with providing insightful ideas for reaching residents who use social media as their primary source of communication and also offering innovative suggestions for revamping the city's Adopt-A-Street program.
Students visited the PIO staff early in the semester to learn more about the program and public works, which Mayor Scott James Matheson said will prepare them for the workforce.
"This is a fantastic partnership. ... These assignments not only serve as educational projects but they also provide real-life work experience for them as well. What's also so good about them taking on the Adopt-A-Street program is that it directly affects the beautification of our city as well," he said.
The class was split up into multiple groups to develop realistic social media plans that also became a large part of their class grade.
The PIO office reviewed the presentations and selected Group 4, comprised of Lauren Barringer, Sarah Jane Carpenter, Gracie Griffin, Isaiah Mitchell and Tamirra Pryor, for their presentation of social media management and emphasis on encouraging more young adults and groups to maintain their adopted streets.
Matheson said the winning presentation features ways of goal setting with social media as well as tracking engagement, becoming more consistent with messaging, as well as implementing incentives for the community to be more engaged in adopting a street.
With their analytics, Group 4 also addressed the idea of using other social media outlets to target a younger generation such as students at VSU.
"This continued partnership with VSU demonstrates the city's efforts to provide applicable experiences to VSU students as well as to strengthen our commitment to engage them in their local government," he said in a statement.
Nelson echoed similar sentiments as he feels collaboration such as these ensures student success.
"The city provides students with an opportunity to participate in their community, which I think is important because ... it provides unique experiences they can take off and use to help do their jobs and be successful citizens outside the classroom. It also establishes a relationship with the city," he said.