A Northern Michigan University event held in conjunction with Fall Fest received honorable mention in the awards program sponsored by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District V. It was entered in the “excellence in special events-individual event” category and was a collaborative effort of Alumni Relations, the NMU Foundation, University Marketing and Communications and outside vendors. The event was titled “Follow the Trail: Connecting the Campus to the Importance of Alumni Engagement and Private Giving.”
Fall Fest is an NMU tradition that provides an opportunity for the entire campus community to celebrate the beginning of a new academic year. The NMU advancement division decided Fall Fest 2014 would provide an ideal opportunity to communicate to students, faculty and staff the impact of the recently concluded Campaign for the Students of Northern Michigan University. The event also offered a venue for helping the campus community better understand the connections between the student experience, involved alumni and donors.
The project was composed of three “stations” on the trail of a student’s journey to graduation. The first was Trail Mix, which delineated the mix that makes up university funding and the resources available to students and faculty. At the tent’s entrance, participants received a funding cup with “#futureNMUalumni” printed on the outside. Each component of the trail mix represented a different component of university funding. Station one helped participants learn more about the revenues that support higher education by putting together their own funding mix. Accompanying the mix components were facts about the actual mix of funding at NMU.
The second station was titled Future Alumni Photos. After completing their trail mix and learning how donors help sustain excellence at the university, a photo was taken of each student holding a frame labeled “Future NMU Alumni.” Students were also introduced to the Alumni Association and the ways in which the association will help them stay connected to their colleagues and alma mater.
Station three was called Thank a Donor. At this station, students wrote thank-you messages to campaign donors. Members of the campus community also signed and wrote thank-you notes on a huge campaign banner that was later used in the project video.
Individuals who worked on the program were: Marina Dupler and student Rachel Busch from NMU Alumni Relations; Andrew Hill and Jessica Jones from the NMU Foundation; Mike Forester, Cam Hadley, Becky Tavernini, Lucy Blair and then-students Emily Stulz, Natalie Heise and Jordan Blahnik of Marketing and Communications; local videographer/photographer Aaron Peterson; and Mark Pynnonen of Signs Now.