Students from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln’s College of Architecture will be looking at ways to improve the community of Hastings in a semester-long project.

Those students will be seeking stakeholder input during a community engagement event at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the Adams County YWCA’s Great Room, 2525 W. Second St.

Members of the public will have the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas regarding environmental planning, including future beautification, development of green space, storm water treatment and more.

Twenty-one undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in courses with the Community and Regional Planning program will participate in the project in lieu of traditional coursework assigned in class. The program is to create a deliverable environmental plan that will address community concerns and benefit a rural Nebraska community.

Belinda Fowler, community regional planning instructor at UNL, is guiding the students through the project and said it’s a chance for students to gain firsthand experience in the planning process.

She said the goal of the initial visit to Hastings is for students to learn what its citizens want.

“We want this to be a stakeholder-driven process,” she said. “Part of our site visit is to learn about what the citizens of Hastings are working toward from an environmental standpoint.”

Fowler said an undergraduate student approached her about a grant opportunity. Students plan to integrate their semester coursework with community stakeholder input and interests in areas associated with environmental planning and policies.

During Wednesday’s meeting, students plan to determine where the community needs help the most and use that as a basis for the final environmental plan.

Following the initial meeting, students will work in smaller groups and team leaders will travel to Hastings for an on-site community assessment as part of the process.

A second public meeting is planned for December where the students will present findings and research found about the topic

The event was created in collaboration with the city of Hastings, Rural Prosperity Nebraska, and the University of Nebraska College of Architecture.

Fowler said city employees in Hastings were helpful in the planning process for the project.

“We are so truly grateful for the support we’ve gotten,” she said.

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