After one of my library shows this summer, Vivi and her mother approached me with a hand-made envelope decorated with an ocelot. I opened the letter and learned that Vivi had enjoyed my ocelot song so much that she had petitioned her friends to donate the proceeds of their school’s “Trash to Treasure” art auction to Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge where our last population of ocelots is fighting for survival!
Vivi, I admire your drive and loving heart! Thanks for letting me know the small part I played in your efforts. You encourage me to keep on singing and standing up for wildlife!
Want to know more about how that donation is being used? Read about the good work being done here. Government and private citizens are working together to ensure the survival of these beautiful animals.
Would you pay $1000 for a TV if you could get it for $400 with a little extra effort/forethought? If your answer is “Duh!” I have some ideas to help you bring me to your school for a fraction of the prices posted on my site. Savvy shoppers, listen up!
- Schedule your event early in the school year. I offer $200 off full-days in September and $100 off in October. Too early for you? Contact me and see if there’s a month that’s slow and I can do something special for you.
- Coordinate book/CD sales: It’s $200-250 cheaper if you’re willing to print up some order forms and send them home with your students. What if you don’t sell anything? No problem, I just appreciate the publicity. More details are here.
- Apply for a TCA grant: If you’re a Texas school or nonprofit, the Texas Commission on the Arts has grants that typically cover 40-50% of my total fee (yes, including and travel surcharges). How hard is it? It’s typically about 90 minutes of work. How long does it take to make $500 in a book fair? More details here.
- Share a date with another school: A full-day is usually four shows. You can share a date with another school and get two each. I just recommend you have groups smaller than 250-300 with grades 3-5 and under 175 when kindergarten will be in attendance. The half-day price is slightly more than 50% of the full-day price because of the extra set up and travel time involved.
- Coordinate a series of dates: Have a sister school or part of a bigger district? Put the word out to ’em and I can typically save you about $100/day, maybe more.
- Book for NEXT school year: In the months of April and May, I start promoting for the next year and I offer $100 off a full-day for any month in the next school year. And, yes, you can combine that with those aforementioned discounts in September and October!
- Get creative! To help fund author visits, Angleton ISD creates and sells a t-shirt that they sell to the students. This handsome family is wearing the Lucas Miller edition which he even designed for them. The audiences were a sea of light blue and, with TCA grants, the schools had a very small out-of-pocket cost!
If you combine two or more of these ideas, you can easily save 60-70%. And if you’ve got your own ideas, who knows, you might MAKE money off the event!
I’m presenting a workshop at the Texas Library Association Conference and promised to provide some resources for anyone wanting to do more STEM activities in the library. So here goes:
Thanks to Target and the Texas Commission on the Arts, I just and got back from a brief but lovely trip to El Paso, Texas. Now I can honestly say I have crisscrossed the entire state of Texas!
Great kids at Pasodale Elementary!
Through their generous Community Giving & Service program, Target sends top-notch artists to off-the-path areas so students can enjoy a rare opportunity to attend live performances. The TCA newsletter listed a total of seven artists out there this fall in various parts of our fair state. Oh, and did I mention that there were a bunch of other artists visiting libraries this summer, too? We’re talking tens of thousands of dollars, folks!
Over the years, Target has sent me to the Rio Grande Valley, Odessa/Midland, Lubbock and deep into the Texas Hill Country. I’ve had some interest from El Paso schools in the past but the travel charges (it’s 550+ miles from my house) have made a tour cost-prohibitive so Target truly made it possible. I had a ton of fun with well over 2000 students in Ysleta ISD elementary schools.
And it must be said that this does a lot to support independent artists too. As you might guess, making a living at this is not always the easiest; Target’s patronage of the arts has made a big difference for me personally and I just wanted to thank them publicly for their generosity.
Can we say, “Mmmm?” (Can we say, “Siesta in your very near future?”)
Oh, and it also gives me opportunity to sample local fare such as the Mexican plate at La Malinche!
So remember folks, when you SHOP AT TARGET, you’re supporting a company with amazing values and integrity. I know they’re my first stop for all the various sundries and supplies required for daily life.
While I’m known for packing my author visits full of science content, let me tell you a little story that illuminates what really keeps me motivated after 22+ years of zoological singing.
This summer, my wife took our lab to the vet. The vet tech saw my name on our dog’s file and excitedly explained that my appearance at her school over 10 years ago had, in part, inspired her to work with animals. Her next step is vet school at A & M!
When I quit my day job back in 1994, I dreamed of having this kind of impact and I’m now hearing from more and more young adults who are, in some small way, crediting me with helping them find paths in careers with science and animals.
My “big secret” is that it’s been inspiration over information since Day One. Yes, I incorporate a gazillion TEKS into my programs and that may be my selling point as far as your principal is concerned, but I’m really aiming to teach lessons that STAAR doesn’t even attempt to measure.
If you’re looking for an author visit that truly has a profound effect on your students, please consider inviting me to your school. Whatever your budget, however crowded your calendar, I am committed to inspiring your students to create the lives of their dreams.
Good dates remain in the fall and spring but things are filling quickly so, please, check out this here website and let’s arrange a time to inspire and enlighten your kids!
If you’re thinking about having me out this spring, here’s your last chance to save! Call me by January 31, 2015 and I’ll give you $100 off date between now and May 31, 2015!
Want to save even more? Look for the additional discounts available in January and February and you’ll save up to $200 total!
For dates AFTER spring break, you can also get grants from the Texas Commission on the Arts that could cover 50% of my total fee which, when combined with this discount could bring your price down to just $425-475!
Ping me if you have questions or want to set up a date!
2014 was an amazing year. I don’t have a perfect count but it looks like I presented my zany, ecological message to around 100,000 kids at over 130 schools, 50 libraries and other a number of other venues.
Even better, as I reached my 20-years milestone as an independent, educational artist, I heard from a number of young adults who told me about the impact my work had on their lives and career choices. How cool is that?
I also managed to create new songs, build to my body of work and following on YouTube and just basically stay fresh and inspired.
2015 promises more of the same and, hopefully new ventures. New songs? Yep. Videos? Of course. I finally have my own studio now so I plan to step up production significantly.
I’m developing a new program about Texas ecosystems and adding new material to my oceans presentation. My STAAR science intensive program for 5th graders will be back in action this spring and will be bigger and better than ever.
Got a special request or song/video suggestion? I’m all ears! Fire it at me and I’ll see what I can do.
Best of luck to you in 2015 and I hope to see you at a show sometime soon!