This week, the National Association of Counties (NACo) granted six Salt Lake County programs 2022 Achievement Awards, which recognize innovative government programs from across the nation. This year, Animal Services’ Hounds Around Town program was named as Best in Category for Volunteers. This is the first time Salt Lake County has received this specific honor and only the second time for any county in the state of Utah.
“These programs are increasing access to STEM resources, monitoring air quality, improving services for seniors, getting more dogs fostered and adopted, and connecting disadvantaged small business owners to resources. I am proud of Salt Lake County’s wide and exceptional services and how our staff are going above and beyond for our community,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson.
Below are the six award-winning programs:
· Hounds Around Town (HAT): Salt Lake County Animal Services created a new volunteer program, Hounds Around Town, which allows volunteers to take shelter dogs out on field trips. Field trips can include activities like hiking, walks, car rides, getting puppaccinos, grooming, shopping, or going out to lunch. The purpose of this program is to give shelter dogs a short break from the kennels, getting photos, learning more about each dog’s behavior, and getting the community involved in working with our dogs while staying active. Find out more here or email [email protected].
· E-bus Air Quality Monitoring Project: This innovative project uses electric buses to provide real-time air quality monitoring data that informs how we can improve air quality on a neighborhood level. Salt Lake County, UTA, and the University of Utah worked together to put air monitors on three electric buses. This project, the first of its kind in the world, is being conducted as a proof-of-concept model which can be scaled up to increase coverage across Salt Lake County. These e-bus air monitors provide real-time data that is combined with other data sources to draw clear connections between what we emit into the air and the health, economic, and social impacts of those emissions. Read more here.
· Economic Inclusion Community Assistance Program (EICAP): EICAP is a small business assistance program that increased access to grants, loans, and other resources for small business owners of color and lower-income business owners. EICAP assisted over 800 businesses with over 2,500 employees by bringing in millions of dollars of additional federal assistance to the businesses that needed it most. EICAP was so successful, Salt Lake County launched a long-term project called Salt Lake Center of Opportunity Partnership (CO-OP), which focuses on connecting lower-income businesses with community resources.
· Senior Curbside Meal Program: Aging & Adult Services implemented the Senior Curbside Meal Program in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As senior centers closed to the public, senior center teams mobilized to serve weekday congregate meals via a drive-thru model designed to protect our older adult participants and staff from communicable disease. The program is a simple, effective crisis-management innovation that continues today because of the convenience it offers to older adults. Find out more.
· Virtual Senior Center: Aging & Adult Services implemented the Virtual Senior Center in August 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As centers closed to the public, senior center teams mobilized to find new and innovative methods to provide programs and services while protecting our older adult participants and staff from communicable disease. Thus, the Virtual Senior Center was established, enabling patrons to log on and socialize, exercise, learn and engage from the comfort and safety of home. The program is an effective technological innovation in senior center programming that continues today because of the convenience and learning it offers to older adults.
· Circulating STEM: This partnership between Clark Planetarium and the Salt Lake County Library System increased accessibility to STEM resources for teens. Building on existing library branch programs, Circulating STEM leveraged an Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant to create a rotating series of hands-on science, technology and engineering activities that explored complex concepts and principles through simulations of robotic missions. Over the span of three years, Circulating STEM provided hands-on robotic building activities to thousands of teens and preteens in their local library branches, increased interest in STEM among participants, increased willingness to pursue STEM education and careers, and provided technical and specialized programming assistance for library branches. The Salt Lake County Library System and Clark Planetarium continue to work together to eliminate barriers to STEM education in neighborhoods and communities throughout Salt Lake County.