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The Grow This Throwdown wins two international awards

Award winners standing on a stage.

The team behind “The Grow This Throwdown” — West Virginia University Extension’s statewide gardening competition — took home two wins of their own last week at an international conference. 

The Grow This Throwdown won silver in the “Best Health and Wellness Program” and “Best Video Advertising” categories at the inaugural North American Social Marketing Awards, held last week in Clearwater, Florida. 

“It is really great to see Grow This recognized at the North American Social Marketing Conference, which attracts experts from across the nation, as well as many from across the globe,” said Kristin McCartney, Extension specialist and SNAP-Ed coordinator with the WVU Extension Family Nutrition Program

A list of award winners, including the Grow This Throwdown.

Silver winners of the inaugural North American Social Marketing Awards. Photo by Kristin McCartney.

Now in its seventh year, Grow This sent free seeds to over 100,000 West Virginians in 2024. Sign-ups closed in January after only a week due to high demand, though pumpkin seeds are now available at more than 80 local libraries around the state. 

Also this year, the Family Nutrition Program rolled out the Grow This Throwdown: a statewide, county-versus-county competition aimed at encouraging West Virginians to move more, grow their own food and crush hunger in our state.  

The Grow This Throwdown launched in January with a Mission Impossible-themed trailer on social media . Contest judges selected both the Throwdown program and the trailer video as silver award winners from among dozens of entries from Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico and the United States. 

Conference organizers also chose the Family Nutrition Program staff to give a presentation about Grow This at the conference. 

Two people presenting a Powerpoint presentation about the Grow This Throwdown.

Keely Blankenship and Zack Harold presented about the "Grow This Throwdown" at the 2024 North American Social Marketing Conference in Clearwater, Florida.

“The Grow This team was able to share about the Grow This Throwdown through both oral and poster presentations. Participants from as far away as Australia commented on the campaigns utility and their interest in trying it out in their communities,” McCartney said. 

Thanks to similar presentations over the years, other states, including Oregon and New Jersey, have created their own seed distribution programs based on Grow This. 

“We’re excited to see where this program will sprout next,” McCartney said. 

The Social Marketing Awards are the only competition exclusively devoted to behavioral and social change marketing. The program launched in 2023 to encourage and reward the development of effective and creative social marketing campaigns.

WVU Extension Family Nutrition Program’s work is supported by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service. 

To learn more about WVU Extension visit .   






Zackary Harold   

Multimedia Specialist   

WVU Extension Family Nutrition Program   



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