In the Spotlight
Upper Valley Action Fair

As a result of participating in UVBEP's 2004-2005 Upper Valley Leadership Teacher class, Maggie Pyer and Debbie Smith organized the Upper Valley Action Fair.

Debbie Smith and Maggie Pyer are a dynamic team teaching duo at Lebanon Junior High School. Both Debbie and Maggie received undergraduate degrees from Granite State College. Debbie is pursuing, while Maggie has completed, a masters degree from Plymouth State University. Debbie teaches Family and Consumer Science and is active in Christian children's ministries. Maggie is a Special Educator and tri-athlete.

The Action Fair is a product of both of their passions for youth in the Upper Valley!

The Fair's mission was to expose parents and teenagers to a variety of summer and on-going activities and opportunities available within our community in order to encourage self-expression and developing interests in our youth.To begin plannig our Action Fair we brainstormed for ideas about what preteens like when they attend home shows, trade shows and the like. Out of these discussions came a clear vision of our show.

Our show would have to include hands on activities, live demonstrations, give-aways, and drawings for scholarships, raffles, live contemporary music, and possibly a live radio feed from the event. We began by determining preteen interest categories: Community Service, Sports/Recreation, Math/Science, Art/Performing Arts, Camps/Schools, and Safety/Healthy Choices. On March 23rd approximately one hundred thirty kids attended the fair with their parents. Thirty vendors and demonstrators showed off their programs, camps, and activities. Overall Maggie and I were pleased with the Action Fair. We felt we were organized and that the vendors felt welcomed and cared for. Many said it was the most well planned show that they have ever been involved with.Next year we are planning to allocate less money to direct mail, a.k.a. brochures, and more to print advertising; e.g. a display ad in the local papers. We think this would help increase the attendance. We would also like to engage a larger corporate sponsorship and/or write a grant for scholarship money for the kids. This year we were able to cover our expenses and provide three scholarships for three needy teens.But the most significant change for next year is in the planning and organizing of the Upper Valley Action Fair; we would like to involve the students themselves. We want to give over the ownership of the fair to a contingent of Lebanon Junior High students and serve only as advisors and coaches, so that this becomes something for kids by kids.

We certainly felt challenged, both with time and recourses, and dealing with our business partners often took us outside of our comfort zones. We plan to take on this endeavor again next year with the assistance of some enthusiastic students and vendors.

Submitted by Debbie Smith and Maggie Pyer

 

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