Monday, October 5, 2015

Blog from Loyola MPH Student Assembly President, Jollyn Tyryfter

This fall I’m working with Seven Generations Ahead and the Illinois Farm to School Network for my practicum and capstone project. We’re using SoGoSurvey ( to create and distribute a state wide survey of Illinois farmers and school stakeholders to help develop identify barriers to implementation of farm to school programming. We’re hoping to get feedback from all counties in Illinois to identify the unique challenges and successes of schools from all areas of the state.  The data collection and analysis should be completed this semester so that the new toolkit can be developed early next year to help facilitate the connection between schools and farmers with ample time to start planning for the next school year. 

After searching for a survey creation tool that fits our needs we’ve chosen SoGoSurvey over other platforms for its ease of use, and the ability to add our own logo and branding to the survey. We wanted a more professional look than other places would provide, without going to a much costlier service. Additionally, it’s super easy to start setting up your survey and has all the response types you might need (single select, multi select, ranking, etc). Since our survey is being sent to individuals with very different roles it’s important that we can customize it for each person who responds.

One of the great features that isn’t available on many of the free survey platforms is the branching and skip logic. No need for your respondents to wade through a sea of questions that need the answer “n/a”, just jump them to the next applicable question based on their answers. As someone who has never generated a survey from scratch, I find the interface intuitive and easy to use.

As any of you who have disseminated online surveys know, just because you reach out to someone doesn’t mean they’ll actually take the survey. SoGoSurvey lets you track who is opening your e-mails and taking the survey so you can track who you need to follow up with without bombarding those who have already completed it. It also allows for completely anonymous responses, which can make the IRB process a lot easier.

For those of you who need a little help with the analysis side of things, there are great tools for summaries to get you started, and you can easily export your data to do further analysis. It’ll also make pretty graphs for your presentations which we all know is important.

So if anyone is planning a survey for their capstone, (because of course you are already thinking about your capstone, right?) SoGoSurvey is a great option. Or you can do what I did and spend a couple of hours researching and comparing all the different tools out there.

And most importantly, if anyone knows any farmers and/or school decision makers (principals, food service directors, teachers, or wellness directors) who you think would be interested in giving us some feedback and help us get fresh, healthy, local food into Illinois schools, send me an e-mail at

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