Throughout the last spring, I had the pleasure of helping put on the Ohio Farm to Cafeteria Pre-Conference and the National Farm to Cafeteria Conference. This opportunity came about after I saw an advertisement for the conference in a flyer.
The national conference is put on by the National Farm to School Network, an information, advocacy and networking hub that serves communities by using local food, school gardens and food and agricultural education in schools and early care settings. With my major being agricultural communications and working towards minors in youth development and Spanish, farm to school combined both of my interests. I found out that they were not only interested in having a volunteer, but would be willing to help me count the experience towards an Ohio State internship credit. This was in January and over the next four months, I worked as a Farm to School Communications Intern out of Campbell Hall to help promote the conference to people across Ohio.
The National Farm to Cafeteria Conference was planned for Cincinnati in May. Carol Smathers, OSU Extension specialist and the Ohio Farm to School Program Coordinator and Amy Fovargue, OSU Extension, were responsible for an Ohio-focused pre-conference. Most of my work involved promoting the pre-conference, which included an Ohio producer showcase with tables from companies like DNO Produce, Peaceful Fruits and Cincy Beef. There was also a panel of speakers from the local food industry and round tables for guests to discuss issues and topics surrounding local food.
While promoting the pre-conference, I learned a lot about event planning and especially the importance of staying organized. I used various tactics to help promote the conference as well as excel sheets to keep track of all email lists and publications that highlighted the event. I promoted the pre-conference through mass emails, press releases and Facebook. I found Facebook to be especially helpful. I had not previously experienced using Facebook to set up an event page and learned some of the benefits and challenges of this media platform.
I also worked with Ohio State’s Office of Trademark and Licensing Services to ensure that our branding was compliant with the University’s brand on the Farm to School website, flyers and post cards. I helped update the Farm to School website, created a monthly flyer that contained information about the upcoming conference. For these flyers, I used the approved OSU templates. I also developed postcards to hand out to promote the pre-conference. Working on the website, flyers and postcards provided a valuable learning experience. I also had to build in time to receive feedback and edits for the branding to be approved. This taught me to build in extra time when working with others.
Throughout this internship, I learned more than I could have imagined about event planning. This experience was especially unique because of the event being a pre-conference with a national conference happening the following day. I feel that the work I did helped prepare me for a job that includes event planning and creating promotional materials such as postcards, flyers, press releases and a website.