2022 – Central District All Faculty Symposium – Community Development
L. Duncan, UF/IFAS Extension, Sumter County, Bushnell, FL. J. Davis, UF/IFAS Extension, Sumter County, Bushnell, FL.
L. Bennett, UF/IFAS Extension, Sumter County, Bushnell, FL. L. Sanderson, UF/IFAS Extension, Sumter County, Bushnell, FL.
Situation: The UF/IFAS Extension Sumter County office is approximately 24 miles south of The Villages. Most residents in The Villages attend programs at their local residential recreation centers and it is a challenge to reach them with marketing materials. Traditionally, programs are advertised through The Villages Daily Sun Calendar of Events and news releases. These efforts have not cost anything. The UF/IFAS Extension Sumter County Facebook page and Agent newsletters are often used to publicize upcoming events. The goal was to attract new residents from The Villages to participate in Extension programs. An Extension Extravaganza (open house) was planned to introduce the public to Extension. Objective: A paid advertisement in the Villages Daily Sun will attract many more participants to the Extension Extravaganza than previous methods resulting in an increase in overall program participation. Education Methods, Procedure, Approach: Funding through a grant and 182 account was used to place a paid advertisement in The Villages Daily Sun. Professional graphics through the newspaper created an advertisement to run one day at a cost of $1200.00. Results/Findings/Product: Attendance at the event was lower than similar events offered in previous years. An exit evaluation, one-on-one interviews, and a follow-up Qualtrics survey were used to get feedback regarding the event. The majority came in response either to an announcement in an Extension newsletter or one of the gents’ Facebook pages. Even though professional advertising was used, volunteers who live in The Villages reported not seeing the advertisement. Reasons for the low attendance is not known. Conclusion: More research is needed to determine the best method of attracting new participants to Extension. At this point, current marketing practices are more effective and less expensive than costly professional marketing. In conclusion, the expense in this case was not worth it.