For Immediate Release –
San Rafael, CA –
National Public Works Week focuses on encouraging career exposure for students
Two dozen local high school students recently completed construction of a fully-equipped custom storage shed, built from scratch for the Marin County Flood Control and Water Conservation District. The shed will store flood mitigation and emergency response equipment for efficient access during emergencies.
“Those are the stories public works professionals like to hear – young people learning these vital skillsets,” said Rosemarie Gaglione, Director of the Marin County Department of Public Works (DPW). “Students being inspired to improve infrastructure and, in turn, public safety and the quality of life for local residents, is so important for the future of our community and the nation as a whole.”
Efforts like the shed partnership are often highlighted during the annual National Public Works Week. On May 18, the Marin County Board of Supervisors acknowledged May 16-23 as the 61st annual National Public Works Week, with this year’s theme of Stronger Together.
In honor of National Public Works Week, and as part of an ongoing effort to connect with the community and foster the importance of public service, DPW will host a Public Works career showcase on May 21. The virtual event is for local high school and community college students. The effort is a collaboration with the Marin County Office of Education (MCOE), and is a follow-up to the previous career showcase in 2019. DPW was unable to conduct such an event in 2020 due to the department’s COVID-19 response involvement.
The online career showcase will present the students with various mechanically based career paths found in the public works field. Students will learn first-hand the daily duties of key DPW roles in Road Maintenance, Fleet, and Radio Communications divisions, gaining firsthand knowledge of what it means to grow a career by improving the community and strengthening public safety.
In line with the County of Marin as a whole, DPW is committed to encouraging younger generations entering the workforce to pursue careers in local government. The County has developed an internship program and a Career Explorer Youth Program to make such pathways more accessible. Efforts are also being made to create more entry level positions in various departments, including Public Works, and those postings are updated regularly online[External].
The high schoolers that built the shed for the District are part of the Regional Occupational Program[External] (ROP), a program of MCOE in partnership with the Marin Builders Association and Redwood High School of Larkspur. The ROP has been operating for over 25 years, providing a cohort of 20-30 students each spring with a hands-on opportunity to learn construction skills, including building craftsmanship, wooden frame construction, tool safety, blueprint reading, electrical and plumbing basics, and green building standards. The 18-week program includes classroom time and actual construction time. The students gain experience by working on real-world projects.
“Engaging with youth education programs such as ROP is important to Public Works and the Flood District,” said Liz Lewis, Interim Deputy Director of DPW and the District’s Water Resources Manager. “Supporting educational efforts for Marin’s youths allows us to impart upon the next generation the importance of public service. There are many diverse skills needed to keep our communities thriving, and it’s crucial that we expose students to those pathways and opportunities.”
The Board of Supervisors resolution on May 18 stated that DPW helps make Marin County a safer and better place to live by designing, maintaining, and improving County infrastructure, including 52 public facilities, over 420 miles of roadway and 151 bridges. Additionally, DPW oversees eight watersheds with a multitude of waterways and implements sustainable planning initiatives, such as sea level rise adaptation and flood mitigation measures. The department also provides search and rescue services and emergency mutual aid in times of need.
“Marin County is a beautiful place to live for so many reasons, but foremost is the incredible community and its united values,” Gaglione said. “This acknowledgment from the Board highlights the crucial role our dedicated Public Works staff play in making Marin what it is. We are, as a community, better together, stronger together. That can be seen nationwide as well, and public works agencies are at the center of it, helping to keep things going. America doesn’t work without public works.”