Public Awareness – MISS DIG 811 Educational Mobil Unit

WHAT DO YOU get when you cross utility safety education, grant money, fun, games, superheroes, and mobility? In MISS DIG 811’s case, Michigan’s facility notification system, you create an EMU. We’re not talking about the giant bird but rather an Educational Mobile Unit that can travel throughout the state, educating children and the public about the dangers present when working or playing near underground utility lines.

It all started with ideas brainstormed by MISS DIG 811’s Education team to provide hands-on, fun, educational training about utility safety at an early age. Those ideas became a reality with monies secured from a State Damage Prevention Grant MISS DIG 811 received in 2019-2020. Larsen’s Graphics developed the van’s inner workings after considering the Education Department’s ideas and bringing them to life, which was no small feat. Securing parts for the van’s interior during COVID proved to be a challenge, but it was worth the wait. MISS DIG 811 was delighted with the outcome.

MISS DIG 811’s EMU is a colorful vehicle loaded with educational fun! What better way to appeal to children and the public about underground facility safety than utilizing videos, games, and activities? MISS DIG 811 hopes that the sooner you learn about safe excavation practices around underground lines, the greater chance you’ll have of becoming an advocate for responsible and safe excavation as an adult.

The EMU boasts learning activities for all ages. There are videos, a hands-on color matching activity, virtual reality, corn hole, and Plinko games. A MISS DIG 811 coloring book and passport moves the learner through various stations to finally be awarded the prestigious title of Underground Superhero. Superheroes receive a cape and hardhat once they have completed all activities.

MISS DIG 811 is adding new characters to their lineup. MISS DIGGY will be joined by Alan the Excavator Squirrel, Webster the Owl, Doug the Excavator Mole, Mel the Supervisor Worm, and three rabbit Locators: AJ the white rabbit, Hal the gray rabbit, and Bert the brown rabbit. MISS DIG 811 is excited for these new characters to appeal to children while teaching them valuable lessons about the dangers present when playing near underground utility lines.

The EMU made its debut in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula at the Home and Garden Shows in Marquette and Escanaba in April. It also headed out for a clay shoot in Grand Blanc, golf outings with MITA throughout the state, and the Bay-Rama Fishfly festival in New Baltimore. Consumers Energy, SEMCO, and DTE plan to join in the fun as we utilize the van for training. As the calendar fills up, MISS DIG 811 hopes to reach as many children and adults as possible to have some educational fun while creating and fostering safe excavation habits.

The Educational Mobile Unit will travel throughout Michigan to raise awareness about the dangers of working near underground facility lines. You can request the EMU to visit schools, annual meetings, home improvement stores, municipal and public events, and anywhere the public will benefit from learning awareness about safety and damage prevention. Look for us in Michigan neighborhoods or contact us for a visit from the EMU at education@missdig811.org.

For a sneak peak at MISS DIG 811’s Educational Mobile Unit: https:// vimeo.com/493501445.

Linda Portelli has been with MISS DIG 811 for 13 years and is the Learning Management System Administrator. She oversees social media and serves as a communications coordinator between departments. Linda can be reached at lportelli@missdig811.com.

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