Letter: Your survey response contributes to valuable insights

Rappahannock residents will soon be receiving (if they haven’t already received) a questionnaire from the Rappahannock Foothills Forum. I hope they will complete and return the form.

I worked for many years in the United States government designing and conducting survey research projects and assisted several different government agencies with analysis of survey data and its use in the formulation of government policy. I know that good surveys can provide important insights.

It is not only the federal government that can benefit from survey studies. Some years ago, I helped the Headwaters Foundation conduct a survey of Rappahannock students and their parents. One outcome of that study is the ongoing Next Step program, which assists students with college and career access.

When the Foothills Forum asked me to help with its survey, I readily agreed. I did so not only because I believe in helping my community but also because I knew that I would be working with the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service of Virginia. The center is a well-known and highly regarded survey organization. And I knew that I could both help the Forum understand the technical aspects of survey research and also help the Weldon Cooper Center understand the unique characteristics of Rappahannock County.

We all receive so-called surveys from political parties and market research firms, the bias of which is readily apparent. The Weldon Cooper Center does not do, and the Foothill Forum did not want, that kind of survey. I believe you will find the questions easy to answer and there is space for you to add your own comments and suggestions.

The Foothills Forum survey questionnaire will provide useful information to us all, both ordinary citizens and community leaders. Each Rappahannock household can contribute to the study simply be completing and returning the questionnaire. Each returned form increases the worth of the study.

Bette Mahoney

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