“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 kids in the future. This month, we feature Tracy Pracheil, Extension Educator at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Describe your role as an Extension Educator at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension 4-H Youth Development. How long have you served in this position?
Tracy Pracheil (TP): I am currently an Extension Educator at the Nebraska State 4-H Office with a focus on multimedia learning (using technology to teach and to learn) and marketing communications (internal/external). I have been in this role for 10 years. Prior to this role, I was a Communications Associate at the State 4-H Office for three years, where I focused on marketing communications and 4-H curriculum development support.
Why is it important to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to grow awareness of Cooperative Extension’s 4-H programs in counties across the state of Nebraska?
TP: It is important to grow the awareness of Nebraska Extension 4-H Programs across our state, because 4-H is open to all youth; it also has the opportunity to impact the future of all citizens in all 93 Nebraska counties. We strive to share stories and examples about how Nebraska 4-H helps young people achieve their greatest potential through the introduction of high-quality youth development experiences. 4-H helps Nebraska youth become advocates and leaders, who in turn have the ability to leave a lasting impact on their communities. We would like for everyone in our state to not only know this, but come to value the current and potential impact of 4-H.
Can you describe your recent efforts to align your state’s 4-H marketing efforts with the national 4-H Grows Engagement Campaign?
TP: Nebraska 4-H regularly utilizes the 4-H Marketing Online Resource Center in order to align our state marketing efforts with the 4-H Grows Engagement Campaign. Images from the photo library were incorporated in numerous large banners and signs located throughout the 4-H Exhibit Hall at the Nebraska State Fair.
The Nebraska State 4-H Web site was redesigned to incorporate images and language that aligns with the campaign. Posts on the Nebraska 4-H Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram social media networks relate to the campaign using the relevant hashtags. We have created several Statewide Social Media Collection Stories using Storify.com to tell a larger story during special timeframes (National 4-H Week, State Fair, Shout Outs to #TrueLeaders). A collection of 50+ “Nebraska 4-H Helps Me Grow” short videos have also been created with the help of our 4-H youth and staff across the state. These videos were shared through a “Seek and Scan” game delivered through the Nebraska State Fair 4-H App that utilized QR codes; the videos are also being shared year-round through Nebraska 4-H social media networks.
Several additional resources have also been shared statewide. With the support of the Nebraska 4-H Foundation and a donor, we were able to purchase a #TrueLeaders photo frame for each county office in our state; we also updated various print materials to include language from the campaign. The Nebraska 4-H Foundation also incorporated the 4-H Grows campaign language into its annual appeal letter.
The Nebraska 4-H Foundation and Nebraska Extension 4-H Youth Development is one of nearly 28 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?
TP: Nebraska 4-H has been working very closely with the Nebraska 4-H Foundation and its trustees to align our marketing communications efforts with the campaign. Last year using our 4-H enrollment system, we began asking if our current 4-H youth have a parent that was involved in 4-H as a young person. With this information, we identified the counties that have the highest percentages of current program participants who also have 4-H alumni parents. An online survey has been sent to these parents in order to provide us with information about their entry into the 4-H program. We are planning to use this input from current 4-H alumni parents to assist with our marketing efforts in connecting with new 4-H alumni parents next year.
The Nebraska 4-H Foundation has also been collecting alumni stories that will be used for promotional purposes. A letter is also being developed that will be distributed to 4-H alumni who connect with us through the state and national 4-H web sites.
Are you satisfied with the progress of this 4-H partnership and work to date?
TP: Yes. The target market research conducted prior to the development of the campaign appears to have provided valuable direction for creative messages. The resources provided on the 4-H Marketing Online Resource Center have allowed us to focus more on the delivery of promotional messages, rather than the development of promotional messages and materials; I believe this provides our staff more time to focus on delivering positive youth development through 4-H.
What are you most excited about as it pertains to this new 4-H campaign?
TP: I’m excited that the 4-H messages we are sending through local, county, and state channels are contributing to a much larger national campaign. Our partnership effort will lead to a much more powerful, unified message.