Enhance your community outreach efforts with APWA's Discovering the World of Public Works

Susan Rehm, Program Marketing Specialist, and Lillie Plowman, Publications/Premiums Marketing Manager, APWA Kansas City office

APWA's community outreach curriculum, Discovering the World of Public Works, made its debut at the 2005 APWA Congress. To date, sales have been incredible! More than 5,000 workbooks and children's publications have been purchased by individuals and agencies. Introduction of the curriculum caps a year-long endeavor by public works, writing, and educational professionals to produce a program to educate grade school children about the role of public works in everyday life. The curriculum includes materials that public works employees can use during community presentations and school visits (e.g., "Career Day"). It can also be used by teachers in the classroom.

"This program symbolizes a major step toward educating children from a young age about public works and the critical role it plays in everyday life," said Peter King, APWA Executive Director. "As National Public Works Week approaches in May, this tool will present a positive opportunity for children to learn more about what it takes to make a community work."

The curriculum, designed to introduce K-5 elementary students to the public works profession, helps young children understand the important role that public works plays in their everyday lives. Another important objective of the curriculum is to encourage students to consider public works as a future career choice. The lessons focus on four areas: construction, traffic and transportation, solid waste, and water and wastewater.

The program is flexible in its design and is ideal to use when giving presentations at community events and during National Public Works Week, and also for teachers to use in the classroom. The curriculum consists of three components: The Instructor's Guide provides background information, instructions for presenting the material, lesson plans, and learning objectives. You are able to pick and choose those subject areas that are most appropriate for your audience and timeframe. The Workbook for Children includes exercises that children can complete to gain a better understanding of public works. Chipper's Adventures in Public Works is a children's book that tells the story of Chipper, a puppy, and his young owners. Chipper's antics cause his owners to interact with public works employees performing a variety of services.

Ways to implement this curriculum in your community
With National Public Works week less than three months away, we wanted to share some ideas about how you can use Discovering the World of Public Works as part of your outreach activities.

  1. Purchase a copy of the curriculum that you and your staff can present during a community event at your agency, or when visiting area schools and libraries.

  2. Contact your school district to discuss how your agency can implement the program in local elementary schools. Collaborate with the teachers to present the material.

  3. Work with your local APWA chapter or branch to purchase a copy of the curriculum and donate it to a local elementary school.

  4. Purchase a copy of the curriculum for your child's classroom. Have the students prepare book reports on Chipper's Adventures in Public Works.

  5. Partner with a youth organization (e.g., YMCA, YWCA, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Girl Scouts or Boys Scouts) to introduce these children to the world of public works.

  6. Purchase the Workbook for Children or Chipper's Adventures in Public Works as a gift for your or a friend's children. Encourage discussion about what mom or dad do when they go to work every day.

  7. Donate copies of Chipper's Adventures in Public Works to all of the public and elementary school libraries in your community.

There are many ways to share the message of Discovering the World of Public Works. Spreading the word about the value of public works to young children will have a two-fold effect because it not only enlightens them, but also allows them to share their newfound knowledge with others.

Now..."Discover" what YOU can do! For ordering information, visit the APWA website at www.apwa.net/bookstore or call Lillie Plowman, Publications/Premiums Marketing Manager, at (800) 848-APWA, ext. 5253.

Tips and timeline for implementing an event for National Public Works Week

Six weeks out

  • Contact your chapter, branch or the school district to determine interest in the program
  • Select a planning committee of parties interested in either presenting or sponsoring the curriculum
  • Develop your budget

Five weeks out

  • Choose a date and location
  • If you are planning on going to a school to present the curriculum, select elementary schools in your district and identify classes (K-5)
  • Contact local elementary schools and invite their students to attend your community event
    Select presenters

Four weeks out

  • Confirm the number of students for each presentation
  • Order curriculum from APWA
  • Send news releases to the local media
  • Order any supplies and items you plan to have as giveaways (e.g., P.W. Paws pencils, stickers, balloons or agency premiums)

Three weeks out

  • Review the Discovering the World of Public Works Instructor's Guide and plan your presentation
  • If your agency is sponsoring an event, meet with the school administrator or teacher(s) to deliver the curriculum. Invite representatives of your local chapter or branch to accompany you.
  • Respond to inquiries from the media
  • Follow up with the teachers to answer questions

One week out

  • Compile press kits to distribute to the teachers, media and other guests (contact APWA for assistance, if needed)
  • Follow up with the teachers to answer questions

One day before

  • Conduct a final run-through of the presentation

The Big Day!

  • Greet the children and guests
  • If your agency is sponsoring the curriculum, attend the program and be available to answer questions
  • Distribute copies of Chipper's Adventures in Public Works and Workbook for Children
  • Take a DEEP BREATH and give your presentation! Allow time for Q&A
  • Proceed with your other plans, such as a tour of your facilities, equipment demonstrations, refreshments, etc.
  • Remind presenters and/or teachers to complete an evaluation and return it to APWA
  • DISCOVER how you can make a difference!

With a little advance planning, imagination, and Discovering the World of Public Works, you can create a community or National Public Works Week event that is easy, affordable, and memorable! You can post information about your event and photos on the APWA website at www.apwa.net/About/NPWW/tellus.asp. Good luck!

How some agencies have used or are planning to use Discovering the World of Public Works for community events and National Public Works Week

City of Fairfield, California: Has an event planned for May 20. The Workbooks and copies of Chipper's Adventures in Public Works will be distributed to fourth- and fifth-grade teachers and students prior to the event, so that they will have a better understanding of what they see and hear about public works.

City of Walla Walla, Washington: Has invited local third-grade classes to visit its facility for "Show and Tell." Each child will receive a take-home "goody bag" that will include the Workbook for Children.

City of Great Falls (Montana) Public Works: Is presently planning to use the program during NPWW in conjunction with its Equipment Show and Tell.

City of Henderson, Nevada: Uses Chipper's Adventures in Public Works at local elementary schools during Nevada Reading Week as an introduction to what services the public works department provides.

We hope that you will continue to let us know how you've used APWA's community outreach program. You can send an e-mail to Lillie Plowman, Publications/Premiums Marketing Manager, at lplowman@apwa.net.