19 Oct Outreach at the Virginia State Fair
outreach at the Virginia State fair
This past weekend my coworker (a fellow Climate RA) and I went to the Virginia State Fair for outreach. It was an awesome learning experience! We connected with so many producers, parents, and kids! We had a Spin-to-Win questions wheel where we asked things like: “What is the difference between weather and climate?”, “Are all forest fires bad?”, and “What is the only mammal that can fly?”. The last one was super popular with kids and parents alike. Do you know the answer? The first hint I gave kids was to think about Halloween. If they still couldn’t get it, I told them it rhymed with “cat”, and they were usually able to guess it after that. Everyone loved the wheel and there was often a line down the walkway of people wanting to spin it for a question and a prize. We had all sorts of merch: stickers, pencils, pens, erasers, coloring sheets, science education magazines, Forest Service scientist cards, I love Smokey Bear bracelets, the works!
It was my first time going to a state fair. I have been to smaller county fairs before, but never something as elaborate and busy as the VA State Fair. It was so cool to see all the booths and games and rides. There were all sorts of competitions as well: baking, wood carving, quilting, even button collecting! Our booth was in a huge warehouse with all kinds of vendors. I was awestruck when we first walked in: hanging from the ceiling were quilted blankets of all shapes, colors, and sizes. Some were huge depictions of life: a house with quilts hanging on a clothesline (which I though was quite funny), dinosaurs, birds flying. Some were colorful, beautiful swirls, lines, and shapes. It felt like standing under a rainbow. We were in a corner with all the natural resource organizations like VA Department of Wildlife Resources, VA Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and VA State Parks. Seeing all the people working in these environmental conservation groups was so powerful and inspiring.
I was a bit nervous going into the fair. My supervisor trained us on “how to deescalate a situation” and “what to do if approached by someone who disagrees with our message”, but I was still a bit apprehensive about running into any situation like this. But everyone at the fair was so open, kind, welcoming, and curious. My fears were gone after the first hour.
Even though the days were long with minimal breaks, this was a fantastic experience. If you ever get the chance to do outreach at a fair or any large event, I highly recommend it. It is very rewarding and exciting to be able to interact with people and teach them something even if it is a simple as: the only mammal that can fly is a bat.