Addressing the social worker shortage

KU’s Western Kansas Master of Social Work Program seeks to address a critical shortage of social workers in Kansas in western Kansas, where some counties don’t have any credentialed social workers. Social workers provide crucial services in various settings, including community agencies, hospitals, and schools. KU partners with Fort Hays State University and Garden City Community College to provide Saturday classroom sessions 
in Garden City and Hays that have allowed 39 western Kansas students to obtain master’s degrees in social work. About 15 students are enrolled in the program.

Training fire and rescue personnel

Firefighters throughout the state receive training from KU’s Kansas Fire & Rescue Training Institute. The institute uses a “mobile fire academy” concept, which brings training directly to communities in Kansas. Last year, the institute trained and certified 8,198 firefighters and served 363 Kansas communities and organizations in 92 Kansas counties. The institute’s instructors logged more than 171,000 miles within the state last year traveling to serve Kansas fire departments and trained more than 50 percent of the Kansas fire services.

Providing more nurses

The KU School of Nursing has a program that allows students at five community colleges across Kansas to complete a four-year bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN) without leaving their home communities. Students at Butler, Hutchinson, Johnson County, Neosho County, and Kansas City (Kansas) community colleges can take KU courses online while completing in-person nursing courses at their community colleges. This program helps to address an ongoing nursing shortage across the state.

Promoting health and education

Through more than 50 grant-funded projects, the KU Center for Public Partnerships & Research is working to optimize the well-being of Kansas children and families. Its partners are diverse, and so are the kinds of social problems the program tackles — including reducing infant mortality rates, ensuring third-graders are reading at grade level, helping middle schoolers learn essential STEM skills, and guiding families on food assistance toward opportunities for fulfilling careers that provide a living wage. The program works to secure funding, orchestrate large-scale data efforts, and provide research, cost analysis, and evaluation expertise.  

Sharing vocal music expertise

The KU School of Music’s Chamber Singers shared their voices with students throughout the state in a tour of eight high schools. The singers performed for students at schools in Topeka, El Dorado, Pratt, Dodge City, Cimarron, Garden City, Quinter, and Douglass. After their performances, the group of mostly KU juniors, seniors, and graduate students spent time with the high school choirs, listening to them rehearse and providing critiques.

Watching water levels

The Kansas Geological Survey at KU focuses on energy, water, and the environment to address natural resource challenges in Kansas. Each January, KGS measures the depths about 1,400 water wells in 47 western and central Kansas counties to determine how quickly groundwater is being depleted. It also monitors earthquakes, generates new information about the state’s geology through its geophysics and mapping programs, and tracks oil and gas production data throughout the state.

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