Marketing Extension to Non-Traditional Audiences Through an Arbor Day Mail Art Call

MARKETING EXTENSION TO NON-TRADITIONAL AUDIENCES THROUGH AN ARBOR DAY MAIL ART CALL

N.D. Pinson, S. Steed, and R. Northrop, UF/IFAS Extension, Hillsborough County, Seffner, FL

Situation: Every year, residents throughout the country celebrate Arbor Day. We typically promote Arbor Day by giving away trees and providing informal workshops and tree planting demonstrations. However, these methods often require a considerable amount of time to coordinate, and resulted in low attendance rates. To promote an awareness of trees and to market Extension to non-traditional audiences, we coordinated a unique mail art campaign in partnership with the Florida Forest Service, Kerby’s Nursery, and UF/IFAS Communications. Methods:  Hillsborough County residents were asked to create works of art using drawing, collage, painting or photography, answer the question, “I appreciate trees because…” and mail the art to the Extension office. The mail art campaign was marketed to local schools, art and performing art magnet programs, churches, 4-H clubs, libraries, and community groups.  Results: Residents mailed 57 pieces of art to the Extension office. Participants ranged from three years old to seventy-four years old. Three winners received a tree planting kit which included one, seven-gallon tree, pruners, a shovel, gloves and fertilizer. Artwork was shared with the public and partners through a Flickr photostream and will be used in future Extension programming. When writing about why they appreciate trees, residents explained “they give us life,” “they save water,” “they increase business traffic in an area,” “trees give insects and animals a place to live,” and “they represent the deep roots between family and friends, and help keep everyone together.” Conclusions: As Jack Payne stated in IFAS Matters, “Data doesn’t move people to action. Stories do. Emotions do. Often we act on what our hearts tell us more than what our heads tell us.” This replicable grassroots contest used art and storytelling to promote an appreciation and celebration of trees, while marketing Extension and engaging non-traditional youth and adult audiences.

(Click photo to enlarge.)