Behind the scenes of any
successful school wildlife habitat project one can usually find a group
of determined educators, parents, volunteers, community organizations
and local businesses working together to coordinate efforts. The coordination
of external support from parents, volunteers and others is no small
task. However, it is a critical component for any habitat project that
will be sustained over time. Promoting your program to others is a key
step in building a network of external support.
Establishing and nurturing
community partnerships like any major project or task can be broken
down into small and simple steps. It is not necessary to bite off the
whole thing at once. Like the development of the habitat site itself
- think big and start small.
Begin your project with a
few key and dedicated partners to form your habitat team. The habitat
team is the working committee that acts as the driving force behind
the development and continuity of the project. The habitat team for
a school just getting started should include at least one 4-H Wildlife
Steward and at least one teacher, a principal or school staff member.
To complete your team, an additional parent, an OSU Extension Master
Gardener, or a community educator can be recruited to serve on the team.
It is important to publicize
your program early in the process and publicize it often. Though a school
wildlife habitat project is an ongoing project, it is important to celebrate
the successes along the way and keep everyone informed. Publicizing
your program serves several purposes:
teachers, community members or organizations can be recruited to
help with the project when they are informed of what you are trying
to accomplish and understand the vision of the program
the program to others also provides an avenue for celebrating your
successes. Teachers, students, volunteers, and community partners
who are working on the program are recognized. Recognizing the efforts
of individuals is one method of nurturing your relationships with
others and building excitement for the program.
donors and community supporters emerge when they learn about a community
project, such as a wildlife habitat on school grounds. Donors and
community supporters want to support projects they know are making
a difference in the community.
Your habitat team should include in their overall plan, a plan for promoting
the program to others. Again, think big and start small. Establish your
long range goals for promoting your program to others then break it
down into small manageable steps. In your first year you may one to
accomplish one or two simple promotional tasks and then the following
year either enhance or build on what you started or add a new promotional
effort to your plans. Remember, you don't have to accomplish everything
the first year. Decide together as a habitat team what can be reasonably
accomplished the first year and then set some concrete and measurable
Here are a few ideas other
4-H Wildlife Stewards have used to successfully promote their program.
a 4-H Wildlife Stewards School Newsletter.
A 4-H Wildlife
Stewards newsletter does not have to be lengthy. One page will
suffice. In your introductory newsletter you can let teachers
and parents know what the project is about, where your site is
located, how they can get involved and who to contact. Subsequent
newsletters might include project updates, work parties scheduled,
new resources secured and resources still needed. Some 4-H Wildlife
Stewards even included a short survey for the teachers to complete.
The survey asks questions such as:
- What curriculum
subjects are you working on this year?
- How can the 4-H
Wildlife Habitat Project support what you are teaching in the
- What resources do
you still need?
- Would you like to
serve on the Habitat Team?
a 4-H Wildlife Stewards Habitat Project column in your current school
If your school or parent and teacher association already has their
own newsletter, ask if you can submit a regular column in this newsletter.
Introduce the Habitat Team and what your goals and vision for the
wildlife habitat project are and how others can get involved.
and distribute a flyer to all the parents in the school to announce
your program and invite everyone to an informational meeting to
learn more about the project.
OSU Extension 4-H staff is available to make a presentation to your
teachers and/or parents to explain the 4-H Wildlife Stewards Program.
A 4-H Wildlife Stewards eleven-minute video is also available for
check out. This video gives an overview of the 4-H Wildlife Stewards
Program. Be sure to have sign up sheets for parents and community
members with specific volunteer roles identified of where you need
help. Provide a tour of the habitat site and help parents, teachers
and community members understand the vision of your project and
how they can help.
Ask to be allowed
to give a short presentation at the next Parent and Teacher Association
meeting or faculty meeting:
Provide your audience
with information on your project, your goals and vision for the
project and again emphasize how they can get involved and support
the project. The clearer you are in communicating specific assistance
you need, the greater the chance you will have to recruit others
to support the project. Don't forget to invite the OSU Extension
4-H staff to help present the program if you need assistance.
Or come to the 4-H Extension office to pick up brochures, videos,
display boards, and other promotional materials.
a school 4-H Wildlife Stewards school website or a 4-H Wildlife
Stewards Habitat Project link on your current school website:
The Internet is a very
good tool for keeping everyone informed about the project, the
accomplishments and what resources are still needed. Whether you
create your own 4-H Wildlife Stewards website or create a link
in your current school website, be sure you let students, teachers,
parents and community members know where to go on the internet
to get updated information on your project.
and establish a permanent 4-H Wildlife Stewards bulletin board
in the school:
Check with your school
principal to see if you can establish a bulletin board in the
school that is designated for 4-H Wildlife Stewards Habitat Project
Information. Select a site that is preferably in a location that
parents and other visitors will pass by when they visit the school.
An 8X10 4-H Wildlife Stewards placard is available to each school
to post in their school. These placards are especially good for
school bulletin boards. Some items to include on your bulletin
- Site map
- 4-H Wildlife Stewards
Member School placard
- Photos of your site
before, during and after
- Names of the Habitat
- Upcoming Events
or work parties
- Resources still
- Samples of students'
journal entries, drawings or other work.
- Who to contact for
Make sure the key titles
or headings on your bulletin board are readable from a distance.
Use large size font in your titles.
press releases out to your local media to announce special events
or report significant successes:
The local media is
always looking for good stories happening in the community. A
school wildlife habitat project where kids, teachers, parents
and community members are working together to create, use and
sustain wildlife habitat on school grounds is not only an interesting
story to report but it makes a visually powerful story as well.
Find the names of the local media reporters in your community
and give them a call or e-mail them to tell them about your project
and what you would like to share with the community. Perhaps you
are looking for more community members to get involved in your
project. Or perhaps you want to recognize students, teachers,
volunteers and community members for the hard work they are doing.
Sometimes it is good public relations to let the community know
what you are doing and get their support in ensuring that your
project is maintained. Lots of watchful eyes on your project during
non-school hours also helps reduce potential vandalism.
and host a Kick-Off Ceremony, a Ground Breaking Ceremony, an End
of the Year Celebration, or some other kind of special event.
Events such as these
are excellent for letting others in the community know all about
your project. Some of the people you might want to invite to an
event like this include:
- School staff
- Surrounding neighbors
- Local media
- School board members
- Elected officials
As much as possible
let the students plan and organize these events. Students can
help make and distribute invitations, greet visitors when they
arrive, provide testimonials, provide tours of the site, and/or
serve refreshments. This is an ideal time to thank the supporters
of your project and let the community know how they can get involved
in the project. Be sure to have sign-in sheets and information
on what resources or help you still need.
Know your audience.
Will your audience be adults with small children? If children
are invited to the event, be sure to provide some activities for
the children. Also, plan for your event to last no more than 2-3
signage in your Habitat Site:
A sign for those who
visit the habitat site is important because it lets the public
know that this site is a wildlife habitat project created by students,
teachers and community members.
important - Maintain Your Garden:
A garden that is not
maintained and becomes an eyesore to the school community and
community at large can undo lots of hard work that was put in
by many people. Be sure you have a plan for keeping the wildlife
Remember, a promotional program
for your project is like any other large task. Break it down into small
and manageable steps. The important thing is not how large your promotional
efforts are. It is more important to publicize early and publicize often.
The success of your project will be largely determined by the external
support you will be able to generate within the school and within the
community. Building that external support network will depend on your
ability to promote your program to others.