NEBRASKA ELEMENTARY students ages 8 to 11 were invited to join Nebraska811 on a “pirate adventure” to learn about underground utility lines and the dangers of unsafe digging practices. Educators throughout the state took the opportunity to teach about safe digging using a fun and educational video combined with a comprehensive Teacher’s Resource Guide. The curriculum, which was developed by the Common Ground Alliance, incorporated a pirate theme which proved to be popular with the inspired future diggers.
After viewing the educational video, many of the third- through sixth-grade classes put their art skills to work in the Nebraska811 Safe Digging poster contest. Posters depicting their interpretation of the 811 Call Before You Dig message were entered to win an educational presentation where students help plant a tree at their school. Eleven schools were chosen to be highlighted in the statewide public awareness campaign and presented with a tree, commemorative park bench, plaque and a cookie party.
The winning posters were displayed at the State Capitol during the Governor’s Proclamation of National Safe Digging Month in April. Several of the artists, as well as their family members and teachers, attended the proclamation ceremony, met with their local senator and took a tour of the capitol building. Nebraska811 featured the posters in social media, news articles, and billboards across the state.
The poster contest has been part of the spring outreach activities in Nebraska for several years. The school presentations have been attended by community leaders, state senators and interested citizens in support of students and the community. The success of this program demonstrates that the use of an effective tool for spreading the safe digging message can inspire people to come together in a fun way for the benefit of everyone. This deserves an enthusiastic pirate growl. Arrghh!
Jill Geyer is a Damage Prevention Liaison for Nebraska811/One Call Concepts, Inc. She conducts outreach and educational activities with stakeholders across the state of Nebraska. Jill can be reached at email@example.com.