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Potato mascot hits the schools


Educational video, coloring sheets teach students about spuds


By JOHN O'CONNELL


Capital Press


EAGLE, Idaho -- The idea for the Idaho Potato Commission's Smashed Spuddy Buddy contest arose from a conversation the organization's president and CEO, Frank Muir, had last spring with Lori Otter, the state's first lady.


Muir told her how children frequently email the IPC photographs of its mascot, Spuddy Buddy, taken at famous landmarks throughout the country, and even the world. Otter encouraged him to use the concept for an educational promotion targeting children.


Students in first through third grades are urged to color Spuddy Buddy and photograph their works of art in the most creative environments they can imagine. They can access a drawing of Spuddy Buddy to color by visiting the "Just for Kids" link at www.idahopotato.com . Entries from 75 children, uploaded to the contest site before the June 30 deadline, will be chosen at random to win $100 U.S. savings bonds.


The site also accesses an educational video, narrated by Spuddy Buddy, informing children about how potatoes are grown and their nutritional content.


Sue Kennedy, who represents the IPC as manager of public relations with Evans, Hardy & Young, said Otter has also agreed to promote the contest with groups of children who will visit her office beginning in February to hear her read her own children's stories. She's promised to show the groups the IPC's "How Potatoes Grow" video and send each visiting child home with the contest rules and a black-and-white drawing of Spuddy Buddy to color. Otter also intends to write letters to Idaho elementary school principals notifying them of the program.


"It's a real treat for me to be able to work with the Idaho Potato Commission on a program that promotes one of our state's top agricultural products, teaches young kids about nutrition and can financially help families," Otter said.


Kennedy said the only major contest expense is the savings bonds. The video was recycled from a previous promotion, and IPC is using social media and help from Otter to promote the event.


"This is our first project with Mrs. Otter, and this is the first time we've done a project like this," Kennedy said. "We wanted to engage as many kids as possible, engage parents and give them an educational program."



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