This past summer, King County Parks launched its Mobile Engagement Team (MET) with a small group of college interns from the University of Washington (UW). Under the supervision of DNRP staff member David Lee, UW students Jaykub Rafael, Nathan Frarck, and Michelle Pollowitz engaged with communities at several parks in unincorporated areas of King County. Through on-site setup of a mobile welcome desk for park visitors, the interns handed out swag and information to park visitors, plus brochures on other KC parks and trails. By providing members of the public with a welcoming presence, the team helped to increase a sense of belonging in parks.
In addition to welcoming visitors at parks, the team collected public feedback on potential park improvements at Skyway Park, Five Mile Lake, Lake Geneva, South County Ballfields, and White Center’s parks. The team surveyed visitors for the Solar Lighting Project, collecting data that can aid King County Parks in determining where to add lighting around picnic shelters and pathways in South King County parks. The group heard concerns around improving a sense of safety and providing additional or modified park amenities. As new capital projects arise, project planners may benefit from utilizing the MET for gathering community input and feedback sourced directly from those most impacted.
As the first cohort of the MET wraps up their internship, UW student Jaykub Rafael commented, “This had been a learning experience for the interns in countless ways, from learning community engagement strategies to the importance of centering community voices.”
Parks is actively reimagining the MET program and learning experience with feedback from its first cohort of interns. Recruitment for a new group of four interns begins in November.