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Marketing boost for county forest preserve district : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Marketing boost for county forest preserve district
Benedictine U grad students to develop no cost plan for agency

by Matt Schury


The Kendall County Forest Preserve District will soon get a little marketing help from students at Benedictine University in Lisle.

County Forest Preserve District President Jeff Wehrli told the board during a recent meeting that the district would like to move forward with plans to partner with the marketing department at the university.

"This is kind of exciting. The master's class over at Benedictine has agreed to look at a couple of different items in our business plans and give us a hand in marketing," Wehrli said.

The board approved moving forward in a unanimous voice vote.

The district will work with a group of three to four students to come up with a marketing and promotions plan, he mentioned.

Jason Pettit, the district's director, said the input from the students would not cost the district anything.

"We like marketing, we like free things and this is both," Pettit said.

There are about a dozen forest preserves in the district that are open to the public. Pettit said that he would like residents to gain a better overall knowledge of them.

"A lot of people who have been going out to Harris (Forest Preserve near Yorkville) for years for maybe a family picnic-well, they don't really walk the trails and see some of the natural areas," Pettit said.

The district is good at maintaining its property, planning events and making it friendly for people to visit, he said.

"But we're not always good at getting the word out about what we're doing from a programming standpoint," Pettit said.

He added that the district staff members are expected to make a presentation to the students in June focusing on specific preserves like Hoover Forest Preserve's Meadowhawk Lodge and the Ellis House and Equestrian Center.

The class is expected to wrap up in the fall and the district should have a marketing plan that they will apply to specific areas of the forest preserve district.

"It won't be anything that we have to adopt but I think it will give us some good ideas," Pettit said.

Wehrli said Latreese Caldwell, the county's budget and research coordinator, mentioned the partnership to the district. He added that Caldwell is taking classes at Benedictine and told a professor that the district is trying to improve its marketing.

"This will get us good information and some good ideas," Wehrli said. "The idea is to just focus on a couple specific things."

Information about the course included in the board's packet details what the students will accomplish. The students are expected to produce a marketing plan as a team for a real business. It says that clients will have two teams assigned to them that will work independently.

"The goal is to 'compete' against one another to develop and create the best marketing plan," the description says. "We do not want to recast the same ideas/promotions the client has implemented in the past. You are to think outside of the box, do any necessary research and provide exceptional, quality work... Listening to the client's need, target markets and goals are essential for this marketing plan to be a success."

The description also says that each team of students will present their marketing plan to the district.

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