So recently, one of the groups on our team came up with a great idea for a contest involving expressing care for the environment through creating a piece of art that shows genuine empathy for an environmental issue. The idea was great, but getting people to join in was very hard. For awhile, even with the decent incentive of the Patagonia backpack, no one would submit a piece at all. I think it was for the most part because we did not ask people directly. It is one thing to post posters and make an announcement, and this would work if we had more resources at our disposal, but it is much more effective to ask people in person who we specifically know are interested in art but need an extra push.
I went to a few of the multimedia art classes and made the announcement to the class and then wrote it down on the whiteboard the teacher so nicely let me use. It was more effective to get people interested, and then if they wanted to, they only had to look at the board to see where. I also went to the multimedia art club and asked them, and since they were especially good at this kind of art and the message was directed at only around 7 or 8 people, I think more people were pushed to join. In the end, around 10 people submitted and I heard they look great! In general, getting people interested in an event like this is tougher than actually getting it ready, and this is because people would have to genuinely care about the subject. A teacher could assign something like a project to their students, and since the students would either care enough to do it, or not really care enough and put it off till the last minute, it really shows the influence of an emotional appeal. We would have to give an incentive that makes people care, a backpack is special, but it does not exactly provide the same appeal as something like maybe extra credit. That is what impartially made our last event a success, some people I talked to came only because it boosted their grade up, same with many of our other events.
That is why something like a tax reduction incentive is so effective as well for encouraging charity, it is how the person justifies putting the effort into something. Yes this could be seen as a form of bribery, but it gets the job done, and people do charitable work or enter in a contest like the one we put on. In the future, I hope to find more incentives that appeal to a wider range of audiences at a deeper level. This kind of work that spreads awareness about an issue both rewards us and the participant, but each one needs the other, and that is why providing an effective incentive is so important. This can be done by seeing what people care about most in our target audience, in this case it was anyone caring about the environment in our school, or an artist who cared enough to do something. In this case, asking teachers to give extra credit would be hard, so giving a gift card worth $50 is appropriate. This contest overall could have been presented more effectively, but now we know how to move forward in work like this.
Last week was an interesting week since there was state testing. This made it so I didn’t have every class every day, so I was able to experiment with my announcements the first day and take what I learned and apply it to the next day’s classes.
The process overall was not that difficult. I first acquainted myself with the project and read over the parameters of the contest from the document online. I then practiced a general speech for what I was going to say. Basically talking about how I am from the EarthTeam group at our school and that we are doing an art contest on man’s impact on nature. The experience was very interesting from class to class. As all my classes except for one are all mainly seniors, they did not have the ability to apply for an internship position next year. However, many of my classmates were interested in the work we did as a group. Still others had already seen our tabling events at lunch and attended our other informational events or participated in the beach clean-ups we organized throughout the year.
I got a lot of positive comments on the contest as people were interested in putting in submissions if they found the time to create an artwork. I think the most lasting effect of my presentation was simply just getting people to think more about their impact on the environment in everyday life especially concerning marine debris. For people that asked me where they could learn more, I referred them to our blog pages along with our zero litter instagram and the EarthTeam website.
I found that in order to engage my classroom I did the announcement at the beginning of class so people had time throughout the class to ask me questions about EarthTeam and the contest. Some people seemed disinterested but others were very interested. Comparing my classes full of seniors to the class I am a TA for that is full of sophmores, I found that the seniors were more open and interested in the contest as seniors have had more experiences. They also for the most part have a more worldly mindset as most seniors next year are heading out into the next stage of life at college.
Overall I think that this experience was a very nice one to wrap up the year and that the contest is a good way to go out and engage the school, preparing them for summer and the following school year. It’s great just to simply raise awareness about the issues of marine debris even if the students choose not to participate in the art contest. As the main goal of our intern group at Alameda High is to educate people about marine debris and its effects, anything to get people at our school and the community thinking about the subject is great. The experience has helped me with my public speaking skills as well as communicating topics more concerning the environment.