The National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council created an innovative safety education program to post key messages on walls and lockers in K-12 schools.
by David Halsey, Contributing Writer, National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC)
In the spring of 2012, large, attention-getting posters were put up on walls and lockers in elementary, middle and high schools in Minnesota. They didn’t publicize summer school, the final baseball game of the season or prom. They promoted off-highway vehicle (OHV) safety, and were seen by over 20,000 students, plus their teachers, school administrators and parents.
The colorful, 5-by-5 foot posters were on display during May and June at 23 schools in five Minnesota school districts, all within 100 miles of Minneapolis. They were part of a pilot project between a large contingent of Minnesota OHV organizations, the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) and a company called School Media.
“The School Media project was a great opportunity for us to get the important safety messages we have in front of the people that need them the most -- students, parents and teachers,” said Karen Umphress, NOHVCC Project Manager and American Trails Board Member.. “And it’s a win-win because the schools receive payment for providing the space on walls and lockers for the posters.”
To make sure the innovative OHV safety education program worked, NOHVCC partnered with the Coalition of Recreational Trail Users (CRTU); a proactive coalition comprised of four associations in Minnesota representing ATVs, dirt bikes, 4WD trucks, and snowmobiles which is in the forefront of getting OHV safety and responsibility messages out to OHV enthusiasts and the general public.
The coalition then secured the funding, gave creative ideas and messages for the posters it wanted in the schools, and worked with School Media to get the posters placed into the schools. NOHVCC created the posters for the project.
The high-school poster shows trail riding images of an ATV, dirt bike, snowmobile and 4WD truck, with the headline "Protect Your Riding Area, Stay On The Trail.”
Kids in middle-schools saw a poster promoting safety training. It showed a family geared up to ride, with the headline "Ready to Ride? Get Trained First” and smaller photos showing kids on dirt bikes in a safety training class and out riding ATVs and side-by-sides with their families.
In elementary schools, students were treated to kid-friendly illustrations displaying a variety of safety-related OHV messages from the popular “Adventure Trail” poster series created and distributed by NOHVCC.
The company behind the posters is School Media, Inc., based in a suburb of Minneapolis. Working in concert with local and national brands, businesses and organizations, it contracts with schools around the country to place posters on their walls, floors, lockers or bleachers.
All posters must contain messages involving health, education, nutrition or safety. “We’re bringing corporate America and our kids together to give positive messages that they bring home to mom and dad,” said School Media President Greg Meyer. “Fifty percent of profits go back to the schools, that’s why it’s been so successful.”
Across the bottom of each NOHVCC poster are logos of the local, state and national partners that played a role in the pilot project. A Quick Response (QR) Code was added to the posters, which when captured by a smart phone connects the viewer to a page on the NOHVCC site created specifically for the messages. The page directs kids to information such as safety training locations and ways to be a responsible rider.
Currently, School Media’s unique brand of positive messaging appears in hundreds of schools across the United States, with a waiting list of more than 3,000 additional schools wanting to partner with School Media as it continues to secure more businesses and organizations interested in its unique advertising medium.
Funding for the Minnesota pilot project was provided by the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) through the Federal Highway Administration and the Minnesota DNR. Five Minnesota OHV clubs assisted with funding: the Central Lakes ATV Club, Kiwi Snowmobile and ATV Club, Twin Cities Trail Riders OHM club, Washington-Ramsey County Wheelers, and Woodtick Wheelers ATV/OHM Club.
The new educational program offers a wide variety of partnership opportunities for the OHV industry to promote messages of safety and responsible riding. They could include any combination of OHV clubs and organizations, OHV manufacturers and their dealers, state OHV, public safety and law enforcement agencies, and youth organizations.
“This is an awesome opportunity to think outside the box and bring in other players. For example, it could be a great partnership between an OHV club and the local or children’s hospital, or insurance providers,” said Umphress.
Following the successful pilot project, to make things easy for others to duplicate, NOHVCC created four posters for elementary schools, three posters about getting safety training, and nine posters about responsible riding.
All posters are available at no cost to any OHV club or state association, as well as powersports dealerships, organizations and state and federal agencies. Each poster has space for the logos and website of each of the sponsoring partners who put the messages into the schools.