April is National County Government Month (NCGM), an excellent opportunity for your county to highlight effective county programs and raise public awareness about county government.
NACo President Gary Moore has prioritized enriching the public’s understanding of county government throughout his presidency. Under his leadership, the LEAD initiative builds on the core themes of Leadership, Education, Action and Development.
Consistent with this initiative, this year’s NCGM theme is Counties Matter. From responding to COVID-19 public health and economic challenges, to strengthening infrastructure and building vibrant communities, one thing has been clear over the past year – counties matter. Selfless county officials and frontline employees have demonstrated bold, inspirational leadership and saved countless lives during these extraordinary times.
While many of the NCGM events you plan may still be held virtually, we encourage you to continue to highlight how your county is keeping residents healthy and safe. There are many ways to show that counties matter – even in the absence of in-person events. Tell your county’s story by:
Encouraging students to participate in the “I Love My County Because” art contest
New to this year's NCGM, NACo launched the “I Love My County Because” art contest. By inviting children and young adults ages 18 and under to create artwork for the 2021-2022 “Counties Matter” calendar, we hope to raise awareness about programs and services that impact people’s lives every day. Entries are due by May 31, 2021 at www.NACo.org/art.
Using the Counties Work online game and My County Works activity book
Whether home from school or during classroom instruction, students and educators can use the “Counties Work” online educational game, the downloadable My County Works activity book or the classroom curriculum to facilitate discussions about civic engagement in county government.
The game educates students about county government functions by letting them run their own county. Along the way, students learn about various services provided by county departments while balancing budgets and responding to citizen requests. Check out the resources NACo and our partners at iCivics developed at www.NACo.org/iCivics.
Offering virtual tours or meetings
Keep the public informed of what’s happening on the front lines. Stream meetings over your social media outlets or offer virtual tours of county facilities.
Inform residents of how they can support county programs from home or in-person and about community groups or non-profits that welcome volunteers. Many volunteer programs are struggling to meet new demands and are modifying practices to comply with social distancing policies so residents may volunteer safely.
Delivering your message to the media
Actively engage with media to emphasize the message that counties matter. All counties, regardless of size, can hold virtual press conferences, media tours of county facilities and programs and effectively engage reporters, editors and producers. As we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and drive recovery in our communities, now is a good time to amplify your message through the power of the media. Use NACo’s COVID-19 communications toolkit and access templates for press releases media advisories and op-eds. You can find the media resources kit and sample social media posts, along with comprehensive additional resources at www.naco.org/NCGM.
As we emerge stronger than ever from the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, now is the time to shine a spotlight on your county’s role in achieving successes at the local level.