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J.E. Davis, UF/IFAS Extension Sumter County, Bushnell, Florida, K. Taylor, UF/IFAS Extension Sumter County, Bushnell, N. Samuel, UF/IFAS Extension Sumter County, Bushnell, M. Smith, UF/IFAS Extension Sumter County, Bushnell, L. Duncan, UF/IFAS Extension Sumter County, Bushnell, L. Sanderson, UF/IFAS Extension Sumter County, Bushnell

Situation: Extension is always called the “Best Kept Secret.” The objective of the Meet and Greet Open House was to introduce new members of the community to Extension services and to introduce those familiar with Extension to new programming that they may not be aware of in a non-formal social atmosphere.

Methods: This event was advertised via local news media, newsletters, and social media. We also promoted the event using flyers distributed at Farm City and other Extension events. The entire faculty and staff were involved with creating interactive displays for clientele. Program areas involved Natural Resources, Sustainable Agriculture/Food Systems, Master Gardener, Horticulture, Florida-Friendly Landscaping™, Family and Consumer Sciences, and 4-H Youth Development. Faculty also utilized several hands-on exhibits.

Results: 19 participants completed a survey. After attending our Meet and Greet Open House, 74% (n=19) stated that this was their first experience with UF/IFAS Extension Sumter County.74% (n=19) stated that they have used Extension services outside of Florida. 74% (n=19) stated that were not aware of all the Extension programs in the County. 100% (n=19) stated that they will use one or more Extension services. 84% (n=19) stated that they have become aware of three or more Extension services.

Conclusion: Extension Meet and Greet Open House offers a unique opportunity to reach new clientele and introduce familiar clientele with new programing that they are not familiar with. The event was successful as evidenced by the survey results, positive media coverage, and one State Senator in attendance.


    • Hi Tina,

      We had only about 25. I think the time of day and day of the week was not the best. It was 9-12 on a Monday, which is market day. We were hoping to get people from that, but people spending several hours outside in a flea market probably want to go home after. I also created a Hernando open house, though due to certain events I was out of state. That was from 3 or 4- to 6 pm. We had 40 people and most of the BOCC. The one positive I saw was that most never knew we were there. We will learn from this first one and see if we can get a better turnout.

  1. Nice job! Do you have plans to do a similar event in the future? If so, what changes would you make?

    • Hi Karen,
      Thanks! Yes will make changes. I actually created two-one in Hernando and one in Sumter. I was out of state when Hernando occurred. The thing I would change would be the time. It was about 9-12 on a Monday-during the Webster flea market. We thought we could get some people from that, but not so. Tia suggest prizes- that’s a possibility that I like. We will have this every year. We get a ton of press in our events and great turnouts. I really wanted this to offer a chance for our existing clientele to learn about other programs and reach out to people who did not know we were there.

      • Thank you for the reply and information. I wish you the best for future events!

  2. Have you thought about asking people that come into the Extension office how they heard about what services are offered in your office? It might give you another way to target marketing to another segment of the audience.

    • Hi Liz,
      Yes we did. Sumter Times and Daily Sun. I think we could have better attendance if we did later and not on market day. I created a Hernando one as well. We had over 40 people and most of the BOCC. Unfortunately, I was out of the state when we had that one.

  3. Great poster Jim! I’m interested in doing a similar program at my extension center in Orange County. I’m wondering if there were any prizes or special tactics to attract people to the event. I’d like to hear more details and other counties success doing events like this.

    • Hi Tia,
      Thanks! This was our first go. We did not offer any prizes, though that is a GREAT idea. We learned a lot in the Sumter open house. I also created a Hernando open house, but I was unavailable when it occurred. In Hernando we had it from about 3-6. In Sumter it was 9 or 10 to 12. I think that made a difference. I would highly encourage it. It is a great way to reach new people. That was the whole point. Reach out any time 🙂