Washington County

Washington County

Washington County is a rural community in southern Indiana with a population of 28,036. Several towns and cities comprise Washington County, including Campbellsburg, Hardinsburg, Little York, Livonia, New Pekin, Salem, and Saltillo.

Residents and tourists alike enjoy the recreational and cultural resources of Washington County, home to the historic Beck's Mill, Delaney Park, Knobstone Trail, John Hay Center, Depot Railroad Museum, the Salem Speedway, and the Pekin 4th of July celebration, which proudly claims title to the oldest consecutive 4th of July celebration in the United States.

IU students and faculty worked with Washington County leaders and residents on projects ranging from exploring agritourism models to increasing performing arts opportunities. 

Read the Washington County report


Homelessness remains one of the most challenging social and public policy problems in the United States, affecting urban and rural areas. Graduate students in Laura Littlepage’s Capstone in Public Affairs course worked with the Washington County Chamber of Commerce to recommend the next steps to prevent and care for residents experiencing homelessness in Washington County, using interviews conducted by students in the Homelessness in America course.

Undergraduates in Kelly Eskew’s sustainable business and law class developed an engaging curriculum to incentivize high-school students to become more involved with internships, trade school, and career opportunities. Plans include opportunities for college awareness and readiness assistance, mentoring younger students in planning for high school graduation, and developing local contacts for job shadowing and internships.

Washington County is home to many outdoor recreation sites, and there is a great opportunity to launch programs that encourage residents and visitors to enjoy the sites. In Alison Miller’s recreational sport programming course, students brainstormed creative outdoor recreation programming ideas for community members to consider implementing.

Since the Washington County Family YMCA opened in 2004, it has offered various valued programs for all age groups in the community. Dr. Julie Knapp’s students researched innovative programming ideas that meet the needs of the county youth of Washington County. Students focused their attention on programs that offer opportunities to gain social connections and build knowledge and skills about health.

Agriculture is central to the identity of Washington County and has defined its landscape, history, culture, and economy. The Washington County Tourism Board worked with student consultants from the Kelley School of Business to expand agritourism in Washington County by examining successful county-wide models, identifying potential community partners, and creating a pitch to secure those partnerships.

There are tremendous opportunities for arts and creative activities in Washington County. Arts administration students lead by Adrian Starnes worked with community partners to develop plans to grow and sustain performing arts across the county. Community partners launched the Washington County Arts Council in a downtown location on the square in Salem.

The Salem community, in partnership with students in the Serve Design program of the Eskenazi School of Art Architecture + Design and faculty member Sarah Martin, worked to develop and create highly effective wayfinding solutions that support Salem’s goals of incorporating wayfinding signs into the city landscape that visually indicate and guide visitors to Salem’s important resources, landmarks, and points of pride.

Student teams from Kelly Eskew’s sustainable business and law class examined how each community could better utilize its parks to enhance community development and attract visitors to the community to increase park use. Proposals include a splash pad in Campbellsburg, a community garden, youth engagement, and craft beer events in Pekin, and a community garden and playground at the YMCA in Salem.

Community partners have been looking for ways to promote activity and movement in Washington County. Students in the School of Public Health led by Deb Mooradian conducted an intervention through a partnership with the Community Health Action Team of Washington County. Together they launched “MarchOn!” a month-long step challenge during the month of March, where participants tracked their daily steps in a virtual environment.

To meet community needs, improve facilities, and expand services to serve more than 150-200 residents daily, the Washington County Family YMCA needs a long-term plan to expand its services, footprint, and funding. Dr. Bree Josefy’s graduate accounting students conducted a feasibility study to determine the scope and form of such a capital expansion plan.

The Arts and Humanities Council and the Center for Rural Engagement are leading a multidisciplinary team of faculty, students, and artists to investigate the mill’s history, culture, and traditions with an eye toward preservation, sustainability, and future programming.

Students in the Media School’s Public Relations Writing class, led by Elaine Monaghan, developed educational materials, news releases, and social media posts to promote the tutoring, youth summer camps, and dyslexia services offered to school-age readers by CAST. Raising awareness about the high prevalence of reading differences and the Orton-Gillingham approach employed by CAST tutors was an important focus. Around 20 percent of the U.S. population has dyslexia or another form of reading difficulty, and in 95 percent of cases, the Orton-Gillingham method helps readers overcome their difficulties.

Teams of students from Kelly Eskew’s sustainable business and law class examined how best to bring a business and entrepreneurial experience to Washington County high schools. Their proposals included implementing an Entrepreneurial Club in Washington County high schools through which students would run their own small business to gain work experience, business management, and financial literacy skills.

Undergraduates in Kelly Eskew’s sustainable business and law class examined options and opportunities to reopen a much-loved independent bookstore in Salem. Students focused on the store’s organizational structure and business plan, spatial design to encourage community participation in events and activities, and event planning to draw customers and create community.

Homelessness remains one of the most challenging social and public policy problems in the United States, affecting urban and rural areas. Students in Laura Littlepage’s Homelessness in America course worked with the Washington County Chamber of Commerce to interview county stakeholders in several different sectors to understand the homelessness situation across Washington County.

Student teams from Kelly Eskew’s sustainable business and law class investigated long-standing local festivals as an engine for community resilience and sustainability. Their projects examined the histories and traditions of the Campbellsburg Country Festival, Pekin’s 4th of July Festival, and Salem’s Old Settlers Day Festival. Their proposals honor the place of pride these festivals hold in each community while using technology to coordinate volunteers, social media for event promotion beyond Washington County, and new avenues for youth involvement.

Campbellsburg is currently home to around 600 residents, and the town holds a rich history and enjoys an active community. Student consultants from the Kelley School of Business partnered with local leaders in Campbellsburg to strategize how they can attract tourists, residents, and visitors to the town.

The Washington County Farmers Market is a key resource for Washington County, however, the market has no dedicated property in a central and accessible location. Students in a sustainable agriculture course taught by James Farmer will create plans to address the market’s needs, including permanent signage, a marketing strategy, staffing, and organizational assistance, and training on best practices for a thriving and sustainable market.

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