San Rafael, CA – On May 24, over 100 high school and community college students attended a Public Works Fair hosted by the Marin County Department of Public Works (DPW) as part of the 63rd annual National Public Works Week celebration.
In partnership with the Marin County Office of Education (MCOE) and its School to Career Partnership team, the fair introduced students to the wide range of disciplines that fall under the purview of public works through a variety of presentations and demonstrations.
At the Public Works Fair for local students, 13 booths showcased various professions that fall under the department’s purview. At the Road Maintenance booth, students learned about the wide range of heavy equipment that are utilized by public works staff, as well as seeing first hand the intricate work that can be done with the machinery.
The fair began with a welcome speech from DPW Director Rosemarie Gaglione and MCOE Superintendent John A. Carroll. Students from Archie Williams, San Rafael, Madrone, Terra Linda, Marin Oaks, Novato, and San Marin high schools and the College of Marin were then set loose to explore 13 booths. Each booth represented a different facet of the Public Works umbrella, providing information through various presentations, demonstrations, and hands-on experiences.
“Our department’s mission is to build a better community, but that doesn’t just mean building infrastructure,” Gaglione said. “It's an honor to connect with local students in a meaningful way and we’re proud to share our knowledge with the next generation.”
A sample of the topics present at the fair were civil engineering for roads and public buildings, flood mitigation infrastructure design, sea level rise adaptation planning, emergency radio communications, first responder and law enforcement vehicle customization, waste management and Zero Waste initiatives, road maintenance, facility maintenance, and traffic safety planning. A diverse selection of demonstrations ranged from flood infrastructure examples to Gradall Excavator uses. Students had hands-on experiences with everything from land surveying equipment to engineering design and project planning tools.
“It’s important to show them the variety of things that encompass public works and let them experience some of that firsthand in a safe setting, so that they can have a better understanding of what it takes to keep our community safe and functioning well year after year,” Gaglione said. “And if we sparked any desire to pursue a career in public service, then that’s an even brighter future for our local government.”
The County of Marin is committed to encouraging younger generations entering the workforce to pursue careers in local government. To help facilitate that, 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.
“MCOE’s School to Career Partnership program works on behalf of Marin’s high school districts to offer students work-based learning and career exploration activities,” Superintendent Carroll said. “This fair was a fantastic opportunity for the students to understand all the hard work that goes into improving the community from a Public Works standpoint. It is rare that these students can get such a diverse sampling of potential career paths in one place and have fun while doing it. We appreciate the resources and staff time that goes into planning such a meaningful experience for our students.”
The fair was part of the County’s celebration of National Public Works Week, an annual event intended to increase awareness of the services that public works agencies perform for their communities. The Marin County Board of Supervisors officially acknowledged the 63rd annual National Public Works Week at its May 23 meeting, presenting a resolution stating how 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 56 bridges, as well as overseeing eight watersheds with related sea level rise adaptation and flood mitigation measures.
“Marin County is a beautiful place to live for so many reasons, but foremost is the incredible community with united values,” Gaglione said. “The acknowledgment from the Board highlights the crucial role our dedicated Public Works staff play in making Marin what it is. We are all part of the same community, and our staff has the honor of helping improve that experience for all who live here.”