Assisting Andra Hansen with her Community Needs project, I researched each county in East Idaho and put this data into Excel. The overall goal of the project was to find out the real needs of each county in Eastern Idaho.
My purpose was to help Andra and her team by finding important information about the counties. This enabled them to easily create graphics and presentations using the data I collected, which would be shown to local organizations.
In the grand scheme of the project, the purpose was to help the counties identify the existing needs of their communities. Pinpointing the important issues and living situations for these areas helps local organizations and councils make impactful decisions to improve their towns.
For this project, I collected data from online censuses for the following 15 counties: Madison, Bonneville, Bannock, Bingham, Teton, Oneida, Power, Jefferson, Butte, Custer, Clark, Bear Lake, Caribou, Franklin, and Fremont. I searched for key findings and logged the information into Excel spreadsheets for Andra and her cohort to use for their presentation.
Each county had its own Excel workbook, where the inside consisted of different pages divided into categories.
This table shows what data was included for each page:
|Page Label:||Data included:|
|Demographics||Race & ethnicity, gender, age, population, and overall stats|
|Poverty||Percent of children on food stamps in Idaho over the years, food insecurity rate for each county over the years, and overall poverty rate over the years|
|Education||High school graduation rate over the years, educational attainment, and percent eligible of free or reduced-priced school lunch for each school district in that county|
|Health||Percent with no health insurance by age over the years and county health rankings|
|Safety||Total crimes reported over the years|
|Household, Income||Percent of all households, median household income over the years, median value of owner-occupied housing over the years, percent of all housing types types, and percent of owner or renter occupied housing units|
|Employment||Industry employment wages, top employers, top 10 cities where people who work in that county live, and seasonally-adjusted unemployment rates over the years|
|Children||Food insecurity rate for children under 18 over the years and teen birth rate over the years|
The following picture is an example of a spreadsheet I made. As you can see, the pages are labeled by data category at the bottom, making it easier to navigate the document.
Each data table can easily be selected, and made into a graph or visual. As an example, I took a table from my data and created a simple line graph. This is how the information will be presented.
At the beginning, I struggled to know what information would be helpful. As I searched through the censuses, I came across a lot of data to choose from but I had to pick what’s most useful. It was hard determining a blue print for the spreadsheets. Since all the Excel documents had to be consistent, I wanted to pick categories and topics of data that would benefit all counties, not just one specific county.
For the first few weeks, I started with Bonneville County. I decided to use the data tables as a blue print and guide for the remaining counties. I spent these weeks becoming familiar with the online censuses, and looking through all the information they had to offer. Eventually, I made the spreadsheet and distinguished a certain layout with categories for each page.
After this was done, I moved onto recording the same information for a new county. I made each new spreadsheet have the same layout with the data tables in the same order. I continued to carefully log the statistics for each new county for the rest of the project.
As I completed other county spreadsheets, I would often find a new piece of data I felt needed to be included. If this happened, I would then go back and add it to the previously completed spreadsheets.
Once I completed a spreadsheet, I would send it to Andra so that they could start putting the research to use. However, the end of the semester is when most of the finalized spreadsheets with all the updates were sent to her.
I overall learned a lot about data research and the importance of this skill. My knowledge of the Eastern Idaho counties grew immensely, and I was able to know more about how the communities function solely based on my findings.
I gained more confidence in how to determine what information is/isn’t helpful, and what to do with it. I’m grateful to have worked with Andra Hansen and be apart of an impactful project. Research has the power to bring important issues and patterns of a town to the surface. This project will definitely improve those issues and make members of the East Idaho communities lives better.