Building a Following

Lego Lisa enlivens forage news on social media

 

University of Georgia Cooperative Extension forage agronomist Lisa Baxter (MSA — Crop and Soil Sciences, ’14) is using her love for Legos and social media savvy to convey information to Georgia farmers. 

When Baxter joined the UGA Tifton campus in March, she wanted to find a way to reach as many people as possible with the information and expertise she was bringing to her new role. 

Inspired by a Facebook advertisement for custom Legos, Baxter customized her own Lego mini-figure to create “Lego Forage Specialist” or “Lego Lisa.” Several times a week, she photographs her “mini-me” at work in the field or in the office, captioning the photos with useful tidbits of information for her audiences on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. 

So far Baxter has more than 280 followers for Lego Lisa on various social media accounts, where she tells forage jokes, advises Georgia producers about upcoming state meetings and cautions growers about problems that could affect their crops. 

“It’s a different way of getting a message across than just listening to a 30-minute PowerPoint presentation or reading another email,” Baxter said. “If we see armyworms that have been reported, then we’ll do a picture with a sweep net saying, ‘You need to scout for armyworms.’ We had some herbicide damage in some Bermuda grass plots, so we took a picture of that saying, ‘If you’re pursuing summer weed control options, scout for this damage.’” 

When she’s working outside, the weather conditions will generally determine how Lego Lisa is pictured. In most photos, Baxter will hold on to the figure’s feet and keep her own hand out of the picture to keep the little Lego from blowing away in strong winds. 

For National Forage Week in June, Baxter ordered several costume changes, including a lab coat, for her Lego sidekick. Her clients have joined in on the fun, with one county agent bringing in her child’s Lego accessories because the child was worried that Lego Lisa didn’t have any toys to play with. Baxter can also change Lego Lisa’s facial expressions depending on the message she is sending. 

Baxter feels that having Lego Lisa appear on her social media pages rather than her own image is a novel way to bring attention to the information she shares. 

“We have a lot of Extension agents. When I was at Winter Conference, they asked how many agents have five years or fewer experience and about half the room shot their hands up. The creation of Lego Lisa is trying to reach that clientele. They’ll see things scrolling through their phone and it does provide a chuckle,” Baxter said. 

David Allen, communications coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Office of Communications and Creative Services, believes Baxter’s creativity serves her and Extension well. 

“We love to see faculty embracing social media and finding creative ways to connect with constituents through the web. It will be fun to see the Lego Forage Specialist build its following and see the engagement generated across multiple platforms,” Allen said.

By Clint Thompson