City of River Falls: Passport Program

Posted on November 1, 2019

Passport Program

This guest blog is brought to you by one of our finalists for the 2019 Meagle Award, The City of River Falls Wisconsin! The Meagle Award recognizes the best places to work in local government.

Welcome aboard!

Often, when a new employee is hired, they are given a quick walk through the office and briefly introduced to whoever happens to be around at the time. At the City of River Falls (Wis.), we think more is better and that it’s important for new staff to get out and about, not only to meet staff from different departments but to learn what they do – and have fun doing it. 

The City’s Passport Program launched in 2016. Since then, new (and old) employees have been invited to visit ten different departments throughout the City over a five to eight-week period. In the past three years, 47 new and current employees have gone on over 300 department visits. 

Participants see how different departments interact and are dependent on each other, which promotes cohesiveness. They have the chance to experience new things: getting their fingerprints taken at the PD, playing Pickleball, riding in a plow truck, and seeing how the hydroelectric dams work. After each department visit, employees get a stamp or sticker to put into their “passport.” Once completed, participants are invited to lunch with the city administrator. 

Program kudos …

Being new to the City, the passport tour provided me an opportunity to meet employees in all areas as well as gain a better understanding of what their departments deal with on a day-to-day basis. As the finance director, this was an invaluable opportunity to get a “crash course” in how our funds are being utilized as well as meeting city employees that I wouldn’t otherwise interact with daily. It is an outstanding program.

— Sarah Karlsson, Finance Director

Even after working 27 years for the City, I found the passport tours invaluable. I learned so much about the water, sewer, and electrical systems, which gave me a new-found appreciation for the efforts and pride that go into keeping the water clean, toilets flushing, and AC cooling. The passport tours give employees an overview of how the City functions and an intimate look at some of the inner workings. 

— Melinda Johnson, Clerk of Court

As a young professional in local government, the passport tour was extremely helpful in my development. I am able to meet those who I would not see on a regular basis and learn the importance of their duties. Now, when working on projects within departments, I can communicate with people I’ve met and better understand how they will be impacted by a new project or policy.

— Dennis Dadashev, Management Analyst Fellow

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