Around the Block

Just cruisin’ with my friend Meg in her Toro Workwoman vehicle. I interviewed her to find out the best way to get into volunteering with the University of Maryland’s Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Meg graduated from the Institute of Applied Agriculture (IAA), where I currently work. The experience that Meg gained through studying Ornamental Horticulture at the IAA led her to become the arboretum’s Volunteer Coordinator. We both work on North campus, so it is easy for us to pester each other. 🙂

Want to help beautify UMD? Email arboretum@umd.edu to sign up!

UMD Community Learning Garden Banner

Check out our crew in front of the fancy new UMD Community Learning Garden banner! We are but a few of many burgeoning gardeners who meet at 4 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays to learn about sustainable food production and help tend the raised beds and terraced plots.

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At the official hoisting of the garden banner last Monday. I ended up in the middle of the photo. This is awesome.

Sustainable Ag advisor Meredith Epstein (middle, in teal) manages the garden and leads the work hours. When I started working with Meredith at the Institute of Applied Agriculture, the garden quickly became one of my favorite spots on campus. This summer I grew soybeans, pole beans, green peppers, tomatoes, kale, thyme, sage, and basil in my garden plot.

I was excited when Meredith asked me to design a 12×4′ banner for the garden. I had previously made a sticker design for the garden club, so I took this as an opportunity to build consistent branding by pairing the same colors and fonts with the provided terp/carrot logo.

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At 12′ wide by 4′ tall, if you can’t see the banner to find the garden I feel bad for you.

The UMD Community Learning Garden is one of four campus gardens at the University of Maryland, College Park. Formerly called the Public Health Garden, it is nestled between the School of Public Health and the Eppley Recreation Center. You should definitely follow on Instagram.

I Went Viral

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Last fall, my co-worker Larisa Cioaca presented me with some statistics about Maryland agriculture and a request to create an infographic. Larisa is the Agricultural Business Management lecturer and advisor at the Institute of Applied Agriculture (IAA), where I am the Student Services Coordinator and Graphic Designer.

The project was shelved for a little while, but I eventually put it together and posted it on the IAA Facebook page last Friday at 10:00 a.m.

As of right now (11:00 a.m. on Sunday) it has 40 likes and 84 shares. Whaaat? Why wasn’t there this much hype about my Open House post?

I credit Meredith Epstein, lecturer and advisor of the Sustainable Agriculture course of study at the IAA, with the idea of drawing male AND female farmers in the “350,000 Marylanders” block. Because: equality.

I feel so affirmed by my newfound ag peers. I look forward to creating the next infographic for the IAA, Alternative Agriculture in Maryland.

Please feel free to download the infographic from the IAA website for printing and posting in classrooms.

**Update: We are now up to 121 shares! Whaaat?

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Engaging Commuter Students with Social Media

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UMBCAre you a social media manager for a community college or commuter campus?

It can seem impossible to engage students who aren’t part of a “captive” audience, as you would find on a residential campus. I have found myself at a loss when students on the commuter campus where I work remain unaware of such perks as free FAFSA help, resumé clinics, random snacks and campus swag giveaways.

At the #UMBCSocial Media Summit this month, there were numerous workshops to choose from and an abundance of knowledge to be gained. Here is what I learned at a presentation led by Jessica El-Zeftawy, UMBC’s Alumni Programming Coordinator:

How to Use Social Media to Connect with Commuter Students and Alumni

waffle fries UMBCSAA1. Use fun drawings in addition to your usual photos and videos. If the images are student generated, that is even better. After seeing Jessica’s waffle fries image, I realized that this could be a fun way to mix things up and show some personality.

2. Have a “Why You Love Our Campus” photo contest. The winner gets to pick out a free hoodie at the bookstore. This was a revelation to me, since at The Universities at Shady Grove (USG) we aren’t permitted to give out cash prizes or gift cards. As a college student (and even now) I would never turn down a chance at a free hoodie! Bonus: if you are specific about terms and conditions, this can be a great way to collect royalty free images.

3. Share the wealth. Inform program directors and members of other departments that if they tweet with your username, you will retweet them (when appropriate).

4. Talk to your student staffers. Have you ever asked an open-ended question on Facebook, only to receive no response? It is common knowledge that the more people interact with your posts, the more users the post will be presented to (impressions). Enlist the help of student employees to serve as social media ambassadors to like, share, and comment to keep the conversation going.

5. TAKE VIDEOS. Even if they are not the best quality, people will click them. I’m not saying that you should spam your accounts with clips of a trash bag blowing around the parking lot; I’m encouraging you to explore video as a tool even if you just go out with your iphone and a cheap tripod. Don’t be intimidated by a lack of experience, just do it!

6. Obvious: create a unique hashtag. Less obvious: use hashtags.org to see what’s trending and gauge effectiveness. You can even pick up free lessons on Twitter etiquette.

shut up and take my money7. Set goals to measure your success. Twitter and Facebook’s analytics tools continue to become more user-friendly. Create a social media strategy (custom hashtags, contests, etc.) and follow through with analytics to see what really works.

8. Connect with alumni on Linkedin. Valuable information to boost engagement with alumni on Linkedin can include financial aid information for graduate students, professional development related news, enrollment dates for graduate programs, course sharing opportunities and faculty profiles.

Images provided courtesy of Jessica El-Zeftawy


For coverage of other topics that I learned about at #UMBCSocial, follow these links:

>> Will That Photo Get You Fined?
>> Coming Soon: College Facebook and Twitter #FTW