In Fresno County, the Blossom Trail 4-H Club transformed their annual membership "Sign Up Night" into a "Drive-thru Sign Up Night". Normally, their Sign Up Night event includes stations for each project where new and returning members can sign up and ask questions. With the limitations on in-person events because of COVID-19, the club officers and leaders thought up a socially distancing way to hold their event.
By creating a drive-thru, people could stay in their vehicles while they got enrollment materials, signed up for projects, and paid their membership dues. In order to maintain social distancing, they had stations that were staffed with 2-3 youth and one adult at each station. All people staffing the event wore masks and those handing out materials and collecting money used gloves.
Youth were a big part of the planning
The youth club officers and Executive Board members planned the event with club leaders Kristen Rusconi and Marci West. They contacted a school for permission to use their bus lane during the evening hours, when it was cooler. They wanted enough room for cars to line up and to set up stations at intervals.
Promoting the event and the club's projects
Before the event, each Project Leader submitted a social media post to promote their project and share information about what it would be about. This helped get people excited about the projects the club has to offer, gave youth a chance to think about the types of projects they want to sign up for, and sped up the drive-thru process. They used Facebook, Instagram, and Remind (texting app) to share the posts and spread the word about the Drive-thru Sign Up Night.
Car Decorating Contest
In order to build excitement, they promoted a Car Decorating Contest. The themes were "Most 4-H Spirit" or "Favorite Project". The winners will be announced at the upcoming virtual club meeting on Zoom.
A smooth drive-thru experience!
The youth created all the signs for the event, including reminders about the Sign-up Process and Joining Process along the way.
At the Welcome Station, they gave all potential members a sheet with the club contact information and the list of projects they could choose from.
Along the way, youth could turn in an interest form for the projects they were interested in. This helped the club capture the contact information for all the youth interested in a project, even if they didn't join that night. They compiled the contacts on the interest forms to share with the Project Leaders so they could follow up.
The Treasurer Station collected membership fees paid with cash or checks. After payment, they received a welcome packet with all of the Record Book forms, an FAQ sheet, club contact information, and a list of all the ways the club communicates with members and families: their Facebook page, the Remind app, newsletters and club meetings. The packet also contains a list of all the club projects for their reference.
The final station was the Supply Station, where families could purchase club t-shirts, a California 4-H uniform hat, and a 4-H scarf or tie. They could also turn in their interest forms before they left.
While cars waited in line for the Treasurer Station and at each station, youth answered questions about projects, the club, and about 4-H.
A fun and successful night
The Blossom Trail 4-H Club had 71 members last year, and are currently at 45-50 members. During the Drive-thru event, 36 members paid their dues and 40 youth filled out interest forms. Kristen Rusconi, Club Co-Leader, said "We had returning families, but also a lot of new families who came by. Considering how different this year is starting out, this is a great turnout!"
Kristen said they anticipated needing two lanes of traffic, but everyone only wanted to go through one lane and took advantage of the waiting time to ask questions. The more they waited, the more they asked questions. Families who participated in the drive-thru obviously enjoyed getting out and connecting with 4-H'ers in a safe way!
Follow the Blossom Trail 4-H Club on Facebook to learn more about their club. Many thanks to Tracy Newton, Fresno County 4-H Program Representative, for sharing about this great way for clubs to engage their members and community.