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The Agricultural Heritage Museum (Ag Museum), located on the SDSU campus, has been in business since 1884.1 The Ag Museum started as a zoological collection and has grown into a comprehensive museum with incomparable collections of Agricultural history in South Dakota. In the museum visitors can explore the infinite richness and complexity of the past and learn about the technology of farming in the Northern Great Plains. Recently, the Ag Museum is in the process of composing a strategic plan to address the new challenges and opportunities for the future development. The Board and staff of the Ag Museum want to seize upon the unique features of the museum and leverage them in a way that is fresh, vibrant, and relevant for visitors from communities inside as well as outside South Dakota. Taking an honest look at both the Ag Museum’s strengths and shortcomings was where the journey for the planning process began. The new director conducted an initial assessment of the strengths and challenges based on the expertise and experience of the staff. In November 2014, the State Data Center (SDC) at South Dakota State University (SDSU) was chosen to conduct a broader needs assessment and assist with facilitating the planning process. The SDC agreed to conduct the current project, including conducting focus groups across the state and collecting data from members of the Ag Museum, students and faculty from SDSU. The data gathered from the interviews and surveys included diverse perspectives about the history, challenges, and hopes for the future of the Ag Museum. The findings provide an overall assessment of how different groups view the Ag Museum as well as their perspectives about the Ag Museum’s physical displays, current exhibits, operations, accessibility, and its practical use as a resource. Finally, the assessment offers suggestions to fuel the planning work for a new direction for the Ag Museum Analyses of the data showed that the three groups (i.e. students, and museum members) generated different patterns in assessing the current operation of the museum and presented various needs, expectations, and opportunities for future development.

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South Dakota State University


Demography, Population, and Ecology | Regional Sociology | Rural Sociology | Sociology

The Report on Agricultural Heritage Museum -- A Survey of Students and Faculty at South Dakota State University and Members of the Museum