In 2016 North Central University made its debut as a booth exhibitor at the Minnesota State Fair. Over the course of 12 days in the Education Building, NCU booth volunteers had conversations with hundreds of State Fair visitors.
Many fair-goers learned about North Central for the very first time. Whitney (Leisner ’17) Peterson, a volunteer representing the Student Development staff, noted that these conversations were the highlight of working at the fair. “My favorite part about volunteering was putting North Central on the map,” Peterson shared. “There were so many people who came by who had no idea we existed, or that we were so close to U.S. Bank stadium. We were able to give North Central an identity in the Twin Cities and get the word out about who we are as an urban, Christian university.”
Gail Weinhold, assistant professor of education, echoed Peterson’s sentiment. “I love this place!” Weinhold said. “When I heard we were going to be at the State Fair, I was all in.” Weinhold worked several shifts with her husband and they had a blast. “There is a playful energy at the fair,” she observed. “We were tossing balls around, joking with people. We made it a point not to just share statistics, but to share the joy you find at North Central University.”
A team effort
Finding nearly 50 volunteers to staff the booth—12 hours a day for 12 days—was a challenge, but worth the effort. Booth coordinator Erica Hanson ’11, director of marketing, recalled, “Last year was a great experience to learn how to staff the booth.”
It was challenging at first because of how busy things are at the start of the school year, but it turned out be an overwhelmingly positive for volunteers and visitors alike. Hanson said for year two she has seen an “outpouring of willing volunteers who want to represent North Central—even our new president, Scott Hagan, will be working a shift!”
Finding their place
Aimee (Perrin ’97) Robertson, alumni relations director, said one of the highlights of being at the State Fair is for NCU alumni to find “their place” in the education building. “Alumni felt a huge sense of surprise and pride that they could walk through the education building and see NCU there among other Minnesota colleges and universities,” Robertson said.
Dean of Student Advocacy Erin White ’05 offered two things she likes best about volunteering at the State Fair: “First, I get an opportunity to see the fair—I’m going in the morning before my shift to check out the animals and seed art. Second, it’s affirming to see people who’ve been part of North Central be so excited to see us there.”
Last year’s volunteers are ready to return and share the word at the fair about NCU. “This is an educational opportunity in the Education Building,” Robertson noted. “It provides a massive amount of exposure.”
You can visit North Central University in the Education Building at the Minnesota State Fair between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., August 24–Labor Day.