“Brand in Action” is a series of interviews with 4-H leaders in states nationwide who are investing in the 4-H Grows Engagement Campaign to elevate the 4-H brand, raise resources to help grow the 4-H program and positively impact more young people. This month, we feature Brett Schomer, program and events coordinator at the Montana 4-H Center for Youth Development.
Describe your role in 4-H. How long have you served in this position?
Brett Schomer (BS): I am the program and events coordinator at the Montana 4-H Center for Youth Development which is part of Montana State University Extension. This encompasses many things, including planning of statewide events, teen leadership development, advisor to the ambassador program and marketing of the statewide 4-H program. I have been on the Montana 4-H State staff for just over 11 years. I came to Montana from New Hampshire 4-H where I was a grant assistant on several grants and worked with the state 4-H leaders on special projects for the New Hampshire 4-H Foundation.
Why is it important to you and Montana State University to grow awareness of Cooperative Extension’s 4-H programs in counties across the state of Montana?
BS: For too long 4-H has been Montana’s best-kept secret. There are too many youth across Montana that think 4-H is NOT for them. I believe it is my job to help county staff get the word out to youth and families in their communities that 4-H is for them and “4-H has what kids need!”
Can you describe your recent efforts to align your state’s 4-H marketing efforts with the national 4-H Grows Engagement Campaign?
BS: We have been working on several things to accomplish this. To begin, we have worked extensively to spread the word internally that the messaging, marketing assets and other tools are available to state and county staff and should be used whenever possible. We have also made an effort to merge many of the 4-H Grows marketing assets and messaging with resources we know counties already use, such as rack cards, pull up banners, flyers, posters, newsletter templates and other assets. We have incorporated messaging from the Grow True Leaders campaign into our Montana 4-H talking points. Our approach has been to model the use of the 4-H campaign resources in a variety of different ways at the state level and make these available to county programs for them to do the same.
We have also worked hard to incorporate the campaign into our new website while also staying in line with the Montana State University style and communication guidelines. I think this has created a unique style.
Montana State University Extension is one of 29 universities that is making a long-term investment in the 4-H Grows Engagement Campaign to build the brand and raise resources to help grow the 4-H program and positively impact more kids in the future. Can you tell us more about your marketing and alumni engagement plans in the coming months?
BS: We have adapted some of the Grow True Leaders Campaign resources to unroll a volunteer recruitment campaign that we hope will strengthen county programs in an effort to receive new 4-H members. These tools include a poster, rack card, post card, talking points, press release, PSA scripts and Facebook photo/posts.
We have plans to continue to build tools for county programs to use to increase their communities’ awareness of 4-H programming. Additionally, we have enlisted the Montana 4-H Leaders Council to assist in the “Raise Your Hand” alumni campaign.
In the future, we would like to put together “booth kits” for counties to use during the fair and camp season.
Are you satisfied with the progress of this 4-H partnership and the work to date?
BS: Yes, and I also think that local people see the value of the campaign as well. The high-quality presence that the campaign has provided 4-H fosters a lot of pride. When you see the amazing ads on television or Facebook or banner in the show ring and they are so impressive it makes me and others I have talked to feel like the campaign illustrates the impact 4-H has on those involved in the program.
What are you most excited about as it pertains to this new 4-H campaign?
BS: I am most excited at how easy it has been to adapt the resources to our needs and how useful the marketing assets have been. My hope is that National 4-H Council will continue to develop new materials to help us keep the campaign fresh and relevant.