Turlock Irrigation District

Public Education

Dexter Duck Swim Safe Safety Tips Animated Video

Summary

The Dexter Duck “Swim Safe Safety Tips” animated video was created to enhance the Turlock Irrigation District’s educational program for water safety, as well as to assist with branding the District’s mascot.

The TID Education Specialist travels to pre-school and elementary schools throughout the 662 square-mile electric service area to discuss the importance of canals as conveyance for irrigation water and to stress the dangers associated with them.  The animated video brings Dexter to life and reaches modern-day children in a way that is both fun and memorable, highlighting four key safety messages:  1. Always swim with a grown-up. 2. Always wear a life jacket when near the water. 3. Learn how to swim. 4. Never swim or play near a canal.

Background

Prior to 2007, Turlock Irrigation District had no single identifiable children’s character for communicating safety & conservation messages. In an attempt to expand education efforts for both water and electrical safety, TID created its own mascot: Dexter Duck. A duck was selected for the mascot because as a swimmer and a flyer it can be used to physically relate to the district’s two primary services, the delivery of irrigation water to farmers through the canal system and retail electricity. Although, the irrigation service area is 307 square-miles, TID understands the importance of water safety and delivers the message to anyone in the 662 square-mile electric service area. Since his May 2007 debut, Dexter has been visiting classrooms, attending health & safety fairs and other community events. 

Challenges and Innovation

Challenges to creating the video were finding a local animation company, cost, time, and the decision on whether to adopt a humorous versus serious approach.

As video development is costly, the process had to be split into phases to cover the span of two budget cycles.  Spread across two budget cycles the video had to be planned well in advance since it would take nearly 60 percent of the allotted portion of the TID Education Program budget for 2010.

Striking a balance between engaging and serious, the final decision was to make the video humorous while reiterating the safety messages.  The seriousness could be left to the explanations of the TID Education Specialist.

The video brings Dexter to life and makes kids that much more excited to meet him. Additionally, the video illustrates the four main water safety messages in an interactive and memorable way. The concept for the video focuses on four main water safety messages – 1. Always swim with a grown-up. 2. Always wear a life jacket when near the water. 3. Learn how to swim. 4. Never swim or play near a canal. 

Results

The Dexter Duck “Swim Safe Safety Tips” is a nearly six-minute animated video that is taken to classrooms throughout the TID service area, plays in the mobile TID Education Trailer, and is viewable on the TID website.

Additionally, a 30-second HD theater ad was created from aspects of the video and will be played in the local movie theater, in an effort to reach a wide audience.

The video has been a huge success with children. Its target demographic ranges from ages 3 to 11, but even adults enjoy watching the video. Kids are actively engaged, often shouting correct answers as Dexter experiences mishap after mishap.

Stakeholder Quote

“Thank you for teaching me about the water cycle and water safety. I learned about how to not swim in a canal. I like the duck show because of the duck ninja. Thank you again,”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Rylan, 2nd Grader,  Brown Elementary School