Elizabeth Schutte: Conservation Penguin-Style

During the first half of my IDEA Grant experience, I have begun the process of planning my research team’s upcoming outreach event both from a broad perspective and in a detailed manner. After team conversations and evaluation, it has been decided that the event will be held in early to mid September, and the theme of the event will be conservation with a particular focus on penguins.

The message of conservation at the event will be delivered through the lens of carnival game-inspired activities. Upon checking in at the event, each guest will receive a card featuring a grid. Each box of the grid will list one of the activity stations for the children to visit. After completing the activity at a station, children will receive a mark on the corresponding box, and the goal for the day is to fill in the entire grid.

One of the first tasks that I completed was designing this activity card and planning out the details for each of the stations listed on the card. I addressed aspects of the activities ranging from necessary materials to prizes for winners and from intended lessons to methods of delivering the messages.

After organizing the individual activities, I formulated a list of items that needed to be purchased or collected. Since this event will have a heavy focus on sustainability and, therefore, the importance of recycling, we will be reusing materials whenever possible. Therefore, it was important to determine early in the planning process the items that our team would need to be saving and collecting over the coming months.

Next, I began ordering the materials that needed to be purchased for the event. The first order that I placed was for a penguin mascot costume. This was an important purchase, as I intend to use this mascot as the face of our research team. So, it will be an instrumental marketing tool, and therefore I would like for it to arrive as early as possible. 

The subsequent items that I purchased are various types of merchandise featuring the logo of my research team. Reusable water bottles, stickers, buttons and t-shirts will be given away as prizes throughout the event as well as being available for purchase during the event and afterward, via the research team website that I am currently designing. 

I researched various sources for purchasing these items and spent time analyzing and comparing price points, production methods, materials, and product reviews. After identifying the optimal source from which to purchase each product, I designed each one using my team’s logo and placed orders for all of them. My final step in this process will be to finalize the t-shirt design and order the shirts after the final necessary graphic has been created and sent to me.

The other milestone that I will be completing in the near future is publishing the website for my team. After researching the websites of various research labs and teams from a variety of universities, I identified what elements should be included on the website that I am creating. The foundation of the website has been designed, and I am currently filling in the remaining gaps in it as I receive necessary write-ups from various members of the team. Some elements of the website will continue to be edited after it goes live, but the website should be public by the middle of July. 

After finalizing and publishing the website, I will begin building a reputation for my research team on social media. I have already developed a plan for consistent posts to the accounts, and I will begin creating and publishing these posts, as well as working to grow on social media, throughout this summer. 

Beyond working with the website and social media, I will finish out the summer by finalizing plans for the upcoming outreach event and then advertising it as much as possible. Advertising will happen through social media, flyers, and word of mouth. Plans for this outreach event are taking shape as I hoped they would, and I look forward to seeing how it will turn out. As of now, I believe that this will serve as an effective jump-start to large scale outreach events for my research team.

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