Picnic Day: Sunrise to Sunset
UC Davis’ Picnic Day, which typically attracts over 70,000 attendees each year, is less than a week away. The annual open-house, happening Saturday, April 15, showcases the uniqueness of UC Davis life — from animal science to the arts and everything in between. One of the most distinctive aspects of the event is that the 15 members of the board of directors are UC Davis students.
Picnic Day Vice Chair Bradford Martin and Children’s Discovery Fair Director Oshiogwe Nash-Haruna are hard at work during the final stretches of planning, and I reached out to them to understand their roles in preparing one of the largest student-run events in the nation.
Getting involved in Picnic Day
A major aspect of Martin and Nash Haruna’s initial involvements in Picnic Day came down to their love of people and community.
“I joined Picnic Day last year as an assistant director,” Martin said. “I wanted to give back to the community and get involved.”
For Nash-Haruna, previous experience working with children influenced her decision to apply for the Children’s Discovery Fair Director position specifically. She works to come up with activities geared toward families and children.
“I worked with children for the majority of my life, and I like coming up with crafts and games for them to do,” Nash-Haruna mentioned. “I’m able to provide a space that is specifically geared toward kids where they can run around and have fun.”
From administrative tasks to public relations initiatives, leadership is a huge aspect of planning out Picnic Day. Most board members also lead teams of students called assistant directors, who facilitate the planning process.
“Communication is key in any team setting, but so is the tone you set for your team,” said Nash-Haruna, referring to her leadership style. “I want to create a space where my team members are able to come to me with concerns and also feel encouraged to tell me their ideas.”
On average, Picnic Day board members work 12 to 14 hours a week on top of classes, clubs and other extracurriculars.
Martin said he puts around 19 hours per week into Picnic Day. While planning, meetings and other administrative tasks make up a good portion of his job, he said his top priority is cultivating an environment that promotes community building and involvement.
“Being vice chair means I get to work with so many different people and dedicate as much time as I can to creating our community!” Martin emphasized. “Seeing thousands of people smiling during Picnic Day makes the year of planning worth it in an instant.”
Nash-Haruna said she uses Google Calendar to organize her time and likes to keep her weekends free when possible. She mentioned the value of taking breaks to aid in the production of her best work.
“At the end of the day I’m still a student, and I put my academics first.” she said. “I’m only human, and I need to know my limits and not overwork myself.”
Both Martin and Nash-Haruna said a successful Picnic Day makes long hours worthwhile.
Martin mentioned that nothing could crush the excitement he felt last year during his first Picnic Day.
“My lunch wrap fell on the ground, but I didn’t feel upset at all!” he recalled. “It truly felt like nothing could bog me down.”
Though Nash-Haruna has many favorite Picnic Day memories, she said her favorite is the giddy feeling of being up before sunrise with her team on Picnic Day.
“Everyone’s tired but excited at the same time.” she said. “I like seeing the sunrise to sunset of Picnic Day because it represents the start of Picnic Day planning to the end.”