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Purdue Extension engages citizens to lead in their communities

Traffic congestion, water quality, farmland protection, urban growth and many other obstacles challenge towns and cities across Indiana. As local governments grapple with decisions, Purdue Extension’s Land Use Team is empowering Hoosiers to serve through the American Citizen Planner – Indiana program (ACP-IN).

“Elected officials, nonprofit staff and even interested residents can all benefit from taking the America Citizen Planner course. You’ll understand the roles and responsibilities of public officials, community residents and developers, as well as tools and processes planners use to implement comprehensive plans,” said Daniel Walker, community planning extension specialist.

Merrillville, Indiana

Responsible for the building, zoning and working directly with developers and residents alike, Sheila Shine, Merrillville’s planning and building director, sought out the ACP – IN program to refresh her knowledge. With a master’s degree in communications and experience owning a business with her husband, Shine said the course provided a great synopsis of community planning and development.

“The course was a great refresher on the dos and don’ts of how to handle neighborhood situations diplomatically,” Shine said. “I appreciated the practical examples throughout the course too. One of the parts of my job is to require landscaping in new developments. I learned about invasive plants, which was a great, applicable takeaway.

“Anyone interested in what happens in our government should take this course. From citizens to those aspiring to have a government job, this class provides a great overview of how our government – zoning, ordinances, etc., - works and how citizens can thoughtfully participate.”  

Thorntown, Indiana

Angela Moody, community development director for Thorntown, and member of the advisory planning commission, is working with her community to update zoning ordinances and the town’s comprehensive plan.

“It was helpful to learn about zoning, density and comprehensive plans. I’m more confident at our meetings because I have a much better background about why our work is necessary,” said Moody.  

 “From someone whose training and 30 years of experience is in interior design, this course gave me the knowledge I needed when I wasn’t sure where to find it.”

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