Indiana 811 Launches Kids Safe Digging Program

In the Spring of 2022, Indiana 811’s Education and Outreach team launched a new program in partnership with National Energy Foundation for their first-ever Indiana 811 Kid’s Safe Digging Program. It all started with a few ideas on educating the public beyond tradeshows and convention booths. What if we could get our Education and Outreach group in front of our future leaders?

So, we did just that! After applying and being awarded a grant from the Underground Plant Protection Account (UPPA), managed by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, it was time to go to work. Representatives from National Education Foundation and the Indiana 811 Education and Outreach team met numerous times to develop an interactive Indiana 811 guided safe digging program.

The Kids Safe Digging Program encompasses the message of contacting 811 before you dig, the five steps to safe digging, how locators mark, the colors associated with different utilities, and the benefits that these utilities bring to their everyday life. Walking students through the loss of utilities and how they would no longer have their WiFi, gas for a school bus, water for drinking, and even restrooms at school, opened their eyes to the importance of these underground facilities and why we need to keep them safe. It also showed them all the wonderful things our members provide to them in their daily routine. Students were quick to ask about damages, cost, locators, and many more questions that we never expected to hear. They helped our presenters think outside the box and made the presentation even more interactive and exciting!

At the conclusion of the presentation, the students had the opportunity to become “hard hat heroes”. Could they pass our five-question pop quiz? Almost every school that participated retained the information and got 100%! The results from our pre/post-presentation surveys show us that the students grew their 811 knowledge by almost 35%.

After the presentation, each student was left with a color code magnet, an interactive 811 kid friendly packet, and our poster contest f lyer. We received numerous submissions for our poster contest requesting that students share their best “Contact 811 Before You Dig” message. The winner of the spring presentation group was awarded to Skyler Tindle at Pine Ridge Elementary in Birdseye, Indiana. Skyler won an engraved “Contact 811 Before You Dig” iPad and the bragging rights of being the first-ever Indiana 811 Kids Safe Digging Program Poster Contest Winner!

During the spring, we completed 11 presentations all over the state of Indiana and talked to over 600 students. We are excited to share that we will be completing ten more presentations in the fall of 2022, with seven schools already confirmed.

Our goal with this program was to share the message and importance of Indiana 811 with Indiana students in hopes that they share this information with their families. We encourage any One Call center looking to share the importance of safe digging to explore this avenue.

We look forward to seeing our Indiana 4th grade students in the fall and having even more creative conversations about Indiana 811 and the importance of safe digging!