Award Winning Leucadia Wastewater District’s (District) Teacher Grant Program

Leucadia Wasterwater District covers a total service area of 10,200 acres (16 square miles) which includes the original service area in Leucadia as well as portions of the cities of Carlsbad (the La Costa area) and Encinitas. With over 62,000 households in service, the District serves the public by collecting, transporting, recycling and treating wastewater in a safe, reliable, efficient, cost effective and environmentally responsible manner, while providing excellent service.

The District recently took home the newly established CWEA Best Use of Social Media award. Here is our interview of their Teacher Grant Program/Campaign.

Tell us about your Teacher Grant program and campaign that recently won the CWEA Social Media award at CWEA. 

The Leucadia Wastewater District’s (District) Teacher Grant Program was developed eleven years ago, during 2008. The District’s service area includes eleven schools, which consists of nine elementary schools, one middle school and one high school.

Prior to the Teacher Grant Program, the District had a high school scholarship program but we didn’t see the responses we expected. Due to the lack of received applications, we decided to implement the Teacher Grant Program, with the goal to reach more students by offering teachers a grant that will fund a project relating to educating students on water recycling, water management, or wastewater.

We believe that this program has exceeded our expectations by reaching over 23,000 members of the public rather than a couple of students per year with the scholarship program. With the help of the teachers developing these environmental programs for their students, they are also getting the student’s parents involved in the process. Therefore, the teacher’s projects are helping the younger generation learn about ways to help our environment and also receive information about our industry.  During past Board of Directors meetings, teachers, students and parents have attended to thank us for this program and appreciate the financial assistance to get their projects running.

Prior to the launch of the social media campaign, we noticed a dip in the Teacher Grant applications we were receiving. So, in order to get the word out about the program and re-energize the outreach process, we decided to launch a social media campaign to engage the community.

How did you launch the social media campaign and what was your strategy? 

We utilized Facebook as our main social media platform, as we have been building a consistent audience to our page. We started by highlighting previous winners and tagging all eligible schools. Once each Facebook post received engagement, we would boost them with a little bit of ad spending and target a specific audience of our district; either educators, parents, or those interested in environmental science. Once the target audience was established, the posts would then be shared by various sources, further increasing exposure.

During 2015, we performed a “No Wipes Down the Pipes” campaign that included weekly Facebook posts, along with a lead article in our newsletter, door hangers, vehicle magnets and refrigerator magnets with the “No Wipes Down the Pipes” logo. We considered the campaign successful because our Field Services team noticed a reduction in wipes at the pump station shortly after the campaign. However, flushable wipes are still an ongoing issue for most agencies nationwide and we have continued to post information about the impact of flushable wipes at wastewater facilities.

Were there any surprises during your social media campaign?

The drastic effect of having someone else share a Facebook post. This greatly increased our post and page engagement. Also, we were pleasantly surprised that schools wanted us to come in person and present about the Teacher Grant opportunities. This helped our awareness alongside the social media campaign.

Were you pleased with the results? 

We were very pleased with the results, we increased submissions by 150% and reached over 10,000 people through our social media campaign over the span of 2 months. The applications submitted sparked great projects by the teachers, that we were excited to film and showcase, as seen here. Teacher Grant Overview video

and Individual winner videos 1, 2, 3, 4.

The CWEA Community Engagement and Outreach Committee will be viewing all Local Section winners submitted to the Best Use of Social Media category in early December. Be sure to submit your campaign!

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