Show your #FairThanks
By Jennifer M. Latzke
Ribbons and trophies and banners and premiums—oh my.
Whenever we tell the story of youth programs, we tend to focus on who won the rosette, whose name will be engraved on the trophy, who gets to place that placard above their stall reading, “Grand Champion Market Beef.”
It’s too easy to take for granted, however, the small business owners and individuals who make those rewards possible for our youth.
You know them. They’re your neighbors who have the beauty shops on main street, the local bank or hardware store. They’re the rancher down the way who sponsors the plaque for the champion heifer in the breed they raise. They are the bidders at the premium sale who may not know how to judge livestock, but they make sure even a red ribbon pig gets a little bump for the kid who tried so hard.
They don’t do it for fame. No one writes a check year after year after year for glory or a photo in the community newspaper. They do it because they are members of the community and they feel it’s their duty. Those local donors—big and small—do it because they see how these programs build skills in the next generation.
Donors see the rate of return on their investment not in currency but in intrinsic things. See, it may look like a trophy to you, but to them it looks like a child’s self-esteem and recognition of their hard work and leadership.
Oh sure, we make sure the kids write sweet thank you notes. (Let me tell you, a sweet thank you note in crayon in a youngster’s own printing makes even the gruffest rancher melt.) Our fair boards hand out sponsor ribbons for businesses to display. We might list them in show programs, and we host yearly thank you barbecue dinners before the premium auction.
Those are all wonderful ways of showing our appreciation, to be sure.
But this summer, when you post those pictures to Facebook of your kids and their prize-winning projects, why not recognize the local sponsors who made that honor possible, in a new way? Why not go beyond the usual to show your support of their businesses to your extended networks of friends?
All you have to do is tag the sponsors who made those prizes possible in your photos. Just search if they have a Facebook or Twitter account for their business, and then tag it in your photo caption.
You could even share pictures of your kids and their prize-winning projects to their Facebook business pages. Share links to their company websites in the captions of the photos you post. Post pictures of your youth thanking them with plates of cookies or handwritten notes. The ways are endless and bound only by your creativity.
Let’s make this a movement. You’re already posting pictures all over social media, just add one more thing to those posts. And, if you use the #FairThanks hashtag, I will retweet a few with my Twitter account, @Latzke, and High Plains Journal will retweet a few as well. I might even feature your post in an upcoming column if it’s really creative.
Let’s come together and show our local businesses our #FairThanks for their support.
Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached by phone at 620-227-1807 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.