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Thinking Outside the Party Box

By Trish Olson, Assistant to the Associate Dean

In February, my niece announced her engagement from Missoula, Montana. Our family was ecstatic. Then she said she would not be home to Minnesota before the wedding on May 20. My sister and I were disappointed. As aunts, we felt it was our role to host a proper wedding shower for her. How could we do that if she did not come home to Minnesota?

Well, we decided we could be creative. We told our niece that not only would the shower come to her, but it would also include folks in Des Moines, IA, Hoffman, MN, and East Grand Forks, MN. So we planned a road trip to Missoula and sent party boxes to Skype hosts in the towns mentioned: camp-themed plates, cups, napkins; frosting, pretzels, and goodies for a log cabin-making contest; and banners to show their camp location. (Can you tell the couple enjoys the outdoors?)

We hosted from Camp Missoula. Camp Des Moines was filled with young women and their dancing children, Hoffman church hall was filled with family and church friends, and East Grand Forks had the maid of honor, who had just had a baby.

Montage of camps
Three of the camps. One of the games was drawing the a scene on a paper plate... on top of your head.

About 30 people attended and fun was had by all. More people attended than had we had it only in Hoffman, the couple could interact with all guests (and could even pick "winners" of the games), all could meet the groom before the wedding, elders could attend in an accessible location, women who could not leave their infants could fully participate, and everyone could see them open their gifts sent to Missoula ahead of the shower date.

Can you see where I’m going with this? This “virtual shower” is not too different than our Extension programming. I hope you plan to participate in one of the WebEx learning opportunities scheduled in the coming weeks and months. This amazing webinar system allows participants to participate via voice, video, and text. Don't limit yourself to PowerPoint presentations. Be creative with truly "active learning."

I encourage you to try an educational program with a small group in a very interactive way in the next month. Start with a group you know and trust, and then share your experiences in the comments.

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