This guest post is by Zach Navin with the City of Mequon, WI – LinkedIn and Twitter. Zach writes about the benefits of hosting elementary school students at city halls to promote understanding of municipal services.
This week, the city of Mequon, WI had the privilege of giving tours of city hall to first grade students from Wilson Elementary School. I’ll start off by saying I was astonished by these children as they were the quietest and most respectful 25 individuals I have ever encountered. So props to them and their outstanding teachers!
I have had a few different opportunities to give elementary students an overview of what the day-to-day operations of city hall are always gives me a great sense of pride because first graders are amazed by all aspects of city hall as most of them are only familiar with police and fire services. We try to give them an overview of the departments they wouldn’t otherwise know about and most seem to think that’s “pretty neat.”
So, whether it’s the Mequon Planning and Development Department teaching them about the new restaurant being built near their school, the Water Department explaining how the water they use to brush their teeth every morning gets to their house, the Clerk’s Office explaining the voting process and the students being able to go home and tell their parents where they have to go vote in the next election, or playing a quick game of budgeting in the finance department to try and decide which departments should receive the most money for the upcoming year, they are enthusiastic and have an infinite number of questions to ask and comments to make. My favorite comment from a first grader was “Hey, if you take out the ‘e’ in ‘Clerk’ and replace with an ‘a’ it spells ‘Clark!’”
These young individuals bring a real spark to City Hall. They help the Mequon staff to realize how big of an impact city operations have on everyone’s day to day life. Tasks that can get lost on some staff that have been in a position for a long time. Things that we see as daily tasks seem like a colossal undertaking to these young students and I think it gives everyone that little sense of Superman.
The question I would like to ask all of you as members of ELGL: how do we get this same excitement from high school, and or undergraduate students to help the attract students into the local government profession? Please share your ideas below or on Twitter, and I’ll include them in a follow-up post!