Victoria’s bicentennial year is coming up: a perfect time to not only reflect on our past but also make plans for our future. Informed and engaged citizenship is crucial to lifting up our community, and we hope that residents will consider joining us for the 2024 Citizens Academy to learn more about how their local government works and how they can get involved.
The 2024 Citizens Academy will take place on five Thursday afternoons: 1:30-6 p.m. Jan. 25; 1:30-5 p.m. Feb. 1, 8 and 15; and 3-6:30 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Victoria College Emerging Technology Complex. For participants looking to go deeper, we’ll host optional hands-on tours at the following locations:
- Victoria Fire Department fire drill field: 5:30-7 p.m. Feb. 1
- Office of Emergency Management: 5:30-6:30 p.m. Feb. 7
- Surface Water Treatment Plant: 5:30-6:30 p.m. Feb. 8
Residents who complete Citizens Academy will be recognized with a certificate. Residents who attend all sessions and complete all three of our city-led educational programs—Citizens Academy, starting in January and led by our Communications department; the Civilian Police Academy, starting in February and led by the Police department; and the Civilian Responder Program, starting in September and led by our Fire department—will be eligible to receive the Distinguished Citizen Award and be recognized at a City Council meeting.
Citizens Academy is truly a win-win for residents and the City. The program gives participants a deeper understanding of what we do and helps to clarify common misconceptions. As part of our department’s mission to encourage informed engagement within our community, we want to equip our residents with knowledge they can share with their friends and families, and we also want to encourage them to take the next step in community engagement by serving on our local boards and commissions.
Here are a few of the perks of participating in Citizens Academy:
- Learn about a wide variety of departments. Most residents can name at least some of the departments that help the City function, like Police and Fire, but what are all of the city departments and what do each of them actually do? At Citizens Academy, you’ll get to take a deep dive into each department, and you’ll also hear from our other local partners.
- Meet the people working behind the scenes. Our local government is headed up by some great people who are passionate about what they do. Participating in Citizens Academy is your chance to meet the people who make it their mission every day to improve our community, including your City Council representatives.
- Discuss your most pressing concerns. Is there a specific topic you’ve always wondered about or an aspect of our community that you’d like to see improved, like a repair project or a new facility? This is your chance to speak directly to our City leaders and local elected officials about the topics that interest you. Concluding each session, we’ll have a Q&A with each session’s presenters to intentionally facilitate a two-way dialogue with our residents.
- Meet other residents who care about being informed. As you go on this journey, you’ll be surrounded by people of different backgrounds who also want to learn more about their local government. Each Citizens Academy cohort supports each other as we grow together and fulfill our personal goals for the program.
There is no cost to register, but space is limited. To apply, visit www.victoriatx.gov/citizensacademy. The deadline is Nov. 1.
Whether you choose to join us for Citizens Academy or not, Communications & Public Affairs is here to help you stay informed about your local government. To learn more, visit www.victoriatx.gov/newsroom.
Ashley Strevel is the director of Communications & Public Affairs for the City of Victoria.