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Much of the work of the director of communications for the National Watermelon Promotion Board is "currently focused heavily on kids."

Leslie Coleman said that her communications efforts from NWPB headquarters in Orlando, FL, involve projects that primarily target the youth of the United States.

"We are more involved with the Agriculture in the Classroom program," which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "I am on the board of the Florida program," and the watermelon industry is also involved at the national level with the USDA program, said Ms. Coleman. In late June, she will be attending the Agriculture in the Classroom national conference in Baltimore. The NWPB will sponsor the meeting when it is held in Florida in 2011.

According to the USDA, "Agriculture in the Classroom is a grassroots program coordinated by the United States Department of Agriculture. Its goal is to help students gain a greater awareness of the role of agriculture in the economy and society so that they may become citizens who support wise agricultural policies."

In another activity, Ms. Coleman on May 6-7 attended the 2010 Spring Industry Boot Camp-Selling to the Foodservice Market. The event was in National Harbor, MD, and presented by the School Nutrition Association. Ms. Coleman described the event as an intensive crash course in the complexities of working with schools. The association targets suppliers of commodities and brands that are trying to reach the school cafeteria marketplace. Since the boot camp, Ms. Coleman has been sharing with the industry what she learned about serving more watermelon in school cafeterias.

Ms. Coleman's work also sponsors a summer feeding tool kit targeting school foodservice programs that prepare meals in the summer months for camps and local communities.

The NWPB has given in excess of 5,000 teacher information kits to promote watermelon in classrooms and cafeterias.

She continued, "On the overall picture, we are doing a lot to promote the [consumption of a] whole watermelon. With the economy being tight and value a huge issue," watermelon is a great value on a per-pound basis when consumers are planning picnics and parties.

To promote that idea, the NWPB is producing "brochures for retail and also running spots on Delta Airlines. We are producing a spot with the Mr. Food program that is airing on Delta Airlines this summer."

The NWPB in recent years launched a program of buying promotional time on the television monitors of airline flights, which literally leverages the attention of a captive audience.

(For more on watermelons, see the May 31, 2010, issue of The Produce News.)