Kitsap County Public Works, Kitsap County, Wash.
Service area: 394 square miles
No. employees: 270
Services: Solid Waste, Wastewater, Surface & Stormwater Management, Public Information Office, Fleet Management, Engineering, Transportation, Operations
Approximate cost: $3,000
Five tips from Kitsap County Public Works
1. Work closely with guidance counselors to meet students’ informational needs.
2. Develop and give teachers a detailed schedule for the day.
3. Cover broad topics rather than specific ones; for example, cover engineering as a whole rather than each specific type of engineer in the department.
4. Involve employees who have passion for what they do.
5. Don’t waste time organizing an event if the department director doesn’t support the effort.
What kid wouldn’t jump on the chance to skip school for a day? But although they’re not in class, Kitsap County, Wash., students are learning.
Each Monday of NPWW, the Public Works Department invites sophomores, juniors, and seniors to the county’s administration building to meet elected officials and learn about government jobs. After the presentation, the students hop on the bus for a short drive to the Public Works Annex. There, they learn about geographic information systems and see road equipment, before moving on to the county’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility, Olympic View Transfer Station, and the City of Bremerton’s award-winning 7.6 mgd wastewater treatment plant.
At each stop an employee describes his or her job, skills needed, and compensation. Then it’s off to the Board of County Commissioners chambers for lunch and a presentation about the department’s summer help program.
Students are chosen by guidance counselors at four high schools: Central Kitsap, Olympic, Bremerton, and South Kitsap. In the past, the cost of busing children from place to place forced the department to limit the number of participants to 15. This year, demand was higher, so the department and schools reached a verbal agreement for the schools to provide transportation to accommodate more students.
Public works launched the NPWW outreach program with a public Open House when the department got a new annex in 2004. Since the facility’s opening coincided with NPWW, officials decided to make an event out of it. In 2006, the department began an all-day program for elementary school students, held on Tuesday of NPWW. Six classrooms of children tour the transfer station, learn how traffic signs are made, play a public works “game show”, explore equipment, and learn how the sewer system works. The day is divided into six 30-minutes sessions and classes rotate through the sessions.
“Teachers say it’s their favorite field trip,” says Public Communications Manager Doug Bear.
With almost 20 employees retiring over the next five years, managers think it’s important to the department’s future to keep the program going year after year. “There’s value in communicating that there are sustainable careers in public works,” he says.Click to the next page to see 10 cool National Public Works Week ideas