Every year for the past decade, people in Lynnwood have had a chance to learn everything about city government thanks to a free program called Lynnwood University.
A different department gives a presentation during each of the eight weekly sessions. Students get to try on firefighter gear, meet a police dog, solve a criminal case and vote on a mock budget. Another highlight includes touring the wastewater plant.
"There's a lot of things that people don't know the city's in charge of," said Julie Moore, a community outreach specialist for the city of Lynnwood. She runs the program.
Lynnwood University can accommodate up to 100 participants, and Moore has had to turn people away some years because the demand was so high. A group of middle school students from a local youth development program participated in the past few years.
Lynnwood University is the creation of council President Loren Simmonds. When he came on the council, he noticed that many people didn't understand how city government worked.
"I was trying to provide a way for people to be involved and to actually put a human face on municipal government," he said.
It worked. Many graduates end up getting involved with the city's various boards and commissions, and as volunteers in the community. For example, City Councilman Benjamin Goodwin went through the program last year and gave a rave review at a recent council meeting.
Simmonds especially wanted to target the growing immigrant community, where people often struggle to figure out how the new government operates.
The program's budget is about $2,000 or $2,500 a year, most of it to cover printing costs.
"We get out of it far more than we invest," Simmonds said.
How to enroll
Lynnwood University classes are 6 to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays, Sept. 13 through Nov. 1.
The program is free but space is limited.
Register by Sept. 3 at www.ci.lynnwood.wa.us/ LynnwoodUniversity or call 425-670-5023.
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