Youth Sponsorship PR Strategy
DEERFIELD AG SERVICES
Deerfield Ag Services is a family-owned, full-service agricultural service provider with agronomy and grain locations in northeast Ohio. Deerfield Ag Services has traditionally supported youth in the communities it serves by purchasing livestock through auctions at the county fair, as well as sponsoring fair time events and activities with local 4-H, FFA, Farm Bureau and non-profit ag organizations.
Deerfield Ag Services sought a more intentional way to support fair youth, donate to a greater number of participants and create a more visible impact. In June 2021, Shift•ology Communication partnered with Deerfield Ag Services to outline a plan for the development of a better fair sponsorship program. We worked together to identify ways the most impact could be felt by youth in the counties that they serve. After some exploration of existing programs and data through secondary research, Shift•ology recommended a strategy to overcome the largest obstacle faced by youth in 4-H and FFA: the cost of starting their project. As a result, the Fair Funding Starter Scholarship Program was created to support 4-H and FFA youth at the county fairs in the area and build awareness of Deerfield Ag Services as a supporter and partner of local agriculture.
The Fair Funding Starter Scholarship Program was executed through the completion these three core objectives:
- Develop a model that proactively supports fair activities within a set annual budget
- Create a program that focuses on 4-H and FFA fair participants who are involved in the community and have connections to Deerfield Ag Services.
- Ensure investment is shared across Deerfield’s service area in 5 counties (Portage, Stark, Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull) and among various livestock species interests.
In order to promote the inaugural Fair Funding Starter Scholarship, Deerfield Ag Services and Shift•ology Communication executed a multi-faceted marketing-communication plan complete with news releases, social media posting, feature articles in Deerfield’s Bountiful magazine and pre-fair announcements. A page on the Deerfield website became the program hub where information was shared and applications were gathered. Shift•ology led the promotion while a committee of Deerfield employees managed the scholarship program selection process. The Fair Funding Starter Scholarship allowed Deerfield Ag Services to maximize their impact on youth in their local communities, with few funds required in addition to the scholarship awarded. In 2022, 216 applications were received and 36 scholarships were awarded totaling $5,000.