Social work students at Tarleton State University will begin conducting a community needs survey in Erath County next week.

"These students will be out in the smaller communities like Bluff Dale and Morgan Mill conducting door-to-door surveys," said Sheriff Tommy Bryant. "We are simply asking residents to be aware they will be out and about, and if you see them alongside the roadway, slow down."

According to TSU Social Work Program Coordinator, Dr. Ebony Hall, this is the first year the program has conducted this type of research. Hall said the 20 students are working in four groups, including health and safety. They will first begin the assessment with agency experts like Bryant and others in the county. Then they will speak to residents and compare that information with what they've already gathered.

"Tarleton State is big into helping students get real-life research experience and through this program, our social work students are getting a real world application to a full scale research project within an active community," Hall said. "We're very excited to get this program going and get out in the community and interact with the residents."

The group has been given a $1,500 stipend from Tarleton's "Keeping it REAL: Real-world Experiences Applied to Learning" program. 

"I'm letting (the students) have a say in how we'll be spending the stipend. They are the ones doing the work, after all," Hall said. "So far we've discussed using some for gas they'll be using driving to various locations around the county, and maybe even some to reimburse community members who are helping us."

Hall said residents can expect to see her students in their communities by Monday, Sept. 30. 

All student researchers will have a TSU social work badge. If residents are unsure, they should ask to see the student's ID, Hall and Bryant said.

Student researchers will have a community survey they will be working from. Hall said the questions will be about community resources that are currently available as well as those that are needed. She said students will have the questionnaire in hand during the survey, and it will also include demographics, questions about needs and a quality of life scale.

"We're out asking these questions because as students at Tarleton we are a part of this community and we want to establish more of a positive presence here," Hall said. "We aren't just asking for research purposes, we want to learn what Tarleton and TSU students can do to contribute positively."