|It is hard to believe 2020 has ended. We had an incredible year filled with lasting partnerships, new members and hope for the future. NICH has grown by leaps and bounds as we aggressively and successfully pursued the goals and tactics outlined in our two-year organizational plan. |
To communicate the NICH mission and vision to our stakeholders we launched NICH social media in February 2020. Our Facebook and Instagram are populated with graphics, articles, and video encouraging use of plants, consumer horticulture services, and science that support consumer horticulture. As of December 2020, NICH has 2,620 Facebook followers and our Instagram has experienced similar growth. All posts are suitable for sharing on business, extension, or research social media. Future efforts will focus on NICH Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram presence.
The quality and quantity of our e-newsletters has increased. We sent 21 newsletters in 2020 covering topics within the NICH Mission that ranged from the release of infographics promoting consumer horticulture to holiday promotion of goods and services. Topics were carefully chosen to encourage community engagement. Today we have 1,321 recipients and the newsletter statistics are strong. The open rate is an eye-catching 36.9 % and the click rate is 16.4%. The unsubscribe rate is a negligible 0.3%.
In an effort to build awareness and membership, we have begun to reach out to allied groups and associations via email, phone and at trade shows and conferences. COVID-19 pushed most tradeshows and conferences online, but our virtual efforts continued to yield results, fueling growth of the newsletter and social media.
Our website received a much-needed facelift this year. We believe the new site effectively highlights NICH outputs and is easier to navigate.
We have built support for the NICH Mission and Vision by creating science-based graphics, infographics and publications that promote consumer horticulture. We began the year with the release of five infographics highlighting what plants do for pollinators, fire, water, soil, and cities and suburbs.
The year also saw the launch of the NICH Webinar Series. The series focuses on adding value to current and future NICH members. Two webinars were hosted this year, Doing Business Under Difficult Circumstances and The Consumer Horticulture Puzzle. Webinars were attended by 85 and 123 people, respectively. The Webinar Committee intends to host four webinars in calendar year 2021, one during each quarter.
Additional efforts included the creation of a series of five Extension publications outlining ways in which people and plants are connected and consumer horticulture benefits to individuals and families; housing and residential areas; businesses, workplaces, and employees; and the environment. We are actively creating tools to increase consumer successes with horticulture and achieve maximum environmental benefits from landscapes.
NICH Continues to support scientific exploration of Consumer Horticulture by writing letters of support for grant proposals that support our Research and Education goals and objectives. The NICH Academic Council successfully submitted and received funding for a research proposal to the Horticulture Research Institute Grant Program and many NICH members have been active on other federally funded projects. We continue to seek relevancy reviewers from consumer horticulture industries for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative in the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and to provide stakeholder input on relevant matters.
Our long-time objective of supporting scientific exploration of all aspects of consumer horticulture includes federal recognition of consumer horticulture as different and equally important to production horticulture. We have convened a Farm Bill Committee to develop and articulate a specific ask for the 2023 Farm Bill. The Committee will seek collaborators internal and external to NICH to assist in this effort.
Interested in being a part of this important work? Join us and find a committee to be part of. NICH offers a unique opportunity to cross-pollinate with industry, academia and non-profits that share common interests and goals. Together, we have built a community of practice. To meet the challenges our committee structure has grown from three committees to eight committees and our committees have learned to work effectively with each other.
Our efforts will create a consumer horticulture commodity group, economic growth and national recognition for our diverse and widespread industry. Please grow with us TODAY.
Ellen M. Bauske