A journey to new educational heights for APWA: the Education Summit 2007

Paul Klope, P.E.
Principal Civil Engineer
City of Eugene, Oregon
Chair, APWA Education Committee

On March 29 and 30 in Denver, APWA held its first-ever Education Summit. From Bill Verkest's welcome and charge to Larry Frevert's challenge at the end, the day-and-a-half Education Summit was packed with information and successful techniques in implementing education programs used by chapters all over the country. Seventy people participated in the Summit including education leads from 44 chapters, members of the Education Committee, members of the Education and Certification Task Force, APWA Education staff, as well as 10 LTAPs.

Angela Rolufs (Missouri Chapter) and Yvonne Tindall (Ontario Chapter) were among the attendees at APWA's first-ever Education Summit in Denver.

Education is a key element of APWA's Mission and Long-Range Goals. It is one of the most important services APWA provides to its membership. The national Mission Statement starts out with education: "The American Public Works Association promotes professional excellence and public understanding through education, advocacy and the exchange of knowledge." The first Long-Range Goal for national states, "APWA will be the members' primary gateway resource for education, knowledge exchange, and services." In keeping with the Mission and Goals, and following President Verkest's theme this year of "Building Chapter Capacity," chapter education leads were invited to attend the Education Summit to learn from each other about how to build their chapter education programs and make them more successful.

Chip Levy, The Rochelle Organization, led discussions on "Knowing Where to Whack" (what are the chapter needs), "How to Look like an Education Champ" (how to more successfully reach your audience) and "If I Were a Rich Man" (what would chapters like to do with their programs and what help would they like). Craig Hornick presented a summary of results from an education needs survey collected from the membership. Past National President Dwayne Kalynchuk facilitated a discussion on selected chapter education success stories that highlighted the diversity and depth of the chapter education efforts throughout the association. In addition, LTAP representatives shared information about their programs and the education partnerships they have with various APWA chapters.

APWA President-Elect Larry Frevert (Kansas City Metro Chapter), Dan Wiwchar (Manitoba Chapter) and Martha Horseman (Kentucky Chapter) watch Darrell Fishel (Indiana Chapter) at the flip chart as they brainstorm ways to improve national and chapter education programs.

The enthusiasm and energy level of the chapter education leads was high throughout and the networking was excellent. Attendees shared best practices information with each other and brainstormed ways to improve chapter education programs as well as the national education programs. They provided a wealth of suggestions to the Education Committee regarding how APWA National could assist chapters in building their education programs. There was also a lot of interest from attendees for assistance in starting Public Works Institutes. Everyone left with new friends and contacts and a head full of new ideas and best practices to try out when they got home. Below are some of the comments from attendees.

  • I heard some great ideas being done in other chapters that I will try to copy."

  • "I was very pleased with the overall summit. It was well organized and extremely informative. Thank you for the opportunity to participate."

  • "Great summit! Great idea! Keep on getting the chapters together to share ideas."

  • "I have been involved with various APWA functions for the past several years. I feel that this was one of the most beneficial and productive events I have ever attended. The open discussion and ideas that were brought forward should be very beneficial for both APWA and the various chapters. Great job to all who organized and participated in this event."

  • "Thank you! I took back a lot of good information/ideas and met some great people!"

Representatives from the LTAP/T2 Centers who are partners in providing education

Attendees were excited about the Education Summit and unanimous in their desire to continue it in the future and to provide other forums for chapter education leads to network and share information and ideas.

In response, the Education Committee will be working with the Board of Directors and staff to plan future opportunities to facilitate chapter-to-chapter communication regarding education. Some of the ideas include expanded use of the Education and Training infoNOW Community, conference calls, meeting at Congress for Chapter Education leads, future Summits, shared online resources for chapter education, etc.

Paul Klope can be reached at (541) 682-5246 or paul.w.klope@ci.eugene.or.us.