Local Partnerships: Getting the Community Involved in Your Festival

Local organizations can enhance your school’s polar festival, providing ideas, expertise, or maybe even resources. Many organizations are pleased to “give back” to the community, so don’t be afraid to ask!


Ideas for Involvement

We’ve listed just a few of the many ways in which local organizations could be involved with your festival.

  • A local university might have a polar researcher willing to serve as a guest speaker or put together a slide show.
  • Preservice teachers from a local university might welcome the chance to plan and conduct activities.
  • Children’s librarians from the public library might provide suggestions for books, crafts, and other literacy activities. They also might be willing to hold a polar-themed story hour for younger students and siblings at the event.
  • A science museum or informal learning center might provide assistance in planning and conducting festival activities.
  • News media (newspaper, radio, and TV) might cover the event and provide publicity.
  • Local businesses might be willing to donate supplies or provide a discount.
  • A nearby middle school might want to co-host a festival. Middle school students could research, plan, and design the activities (using, for example, ANDRILL’s Flexhibit materials) and elementary students could participate.

These are just a few ideas for involving the greater community in your festival. There are no right or wrong ideas. Don’t be afraid to be creative and to dream big!


Now What?

Now that you’ve identified possible community partnerships, how do you go about approaching them? Here are a few tips that might help:

  • Ask well in advance. The more time available for planning, the better.
  • Be specific. Instead of saying, “We’d like you to be involved,” say, “We’d like to know if you’d run a ‘polar story hour’ session” (or whatever you have in mind).
  • Consider the organizations and try to identify the persons who are in the best position to help you. Not only are they more likely to agree, but you’ll save time!
  • Use connections. Is there a parent who works for a particular organization? Ask him or her for help or for a contact.
  • Have details. Don’t ask until you have a date, times, a location, and other important information.
  • Put it in writing. Have all important information (date, time, location, your specific request, and contact information) in writing. If you first discuss your request verbally, follow up with a letter or an email confirming the details.
  • Include the organization in the planning process unless it requests otherwise.
  • Communicate regularly. Keep the organization abreast of decisions or changes that might affect it.
  • Be organized. Make the volunteer’s job as simple as possible by having procedures for check-in, setup, the event itself, and cleanup.
  • Follow up with a thank-you. Notes or cards from students and pictures are always appreciated!

Not every organization may be able to accommodate your request. But the ones who can will make your polar festival more engaging and enjoyable!


This article was written by Jessica Fries-Gaither. For more information, see the Contributors page. Email Jessica at beyondpenguins@msteacher.org.

Copyright November 2008 – The Ohio State University. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0733024. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. This work is licensed under an Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons license.

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