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Make the Most of Public Service Day

Janelle Cox

Make the Most of Public Service DayJune 23 is Public Service Day. Established in 2002 by the United Nations, the day is designed to recognize the work of public servants, and encourage young people to pursue a career in the public sector. Here is a little background information on the day, along with a few ideas you can use to incorporate the meaning behind this day into your lessons.


In 2002 the United Nations General Assembly established June 23 of each year for the global observation as Public Service Day. Each member state is encouraged to celebrate and highlight public service by organizing special events.

Every year, the United Nations holds a prestigious international public service awards ceremony, which recognizes the achievements and contributions of companies in the public service sector. The theme for 2013 is “Transformative e-Government and Innovation: Creating a Better Future for All."  For more information on the ceremony and past award winners, visit UN Public Administration Programme.

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Celebrate with Your Class

There are many ways that you can get involved and celebrate Public Service Day, all while encouraging and inspiring the next generation to choose public service as a career choice. You can:

  • Organize a special event, such as a tour of your local police station or fire station.
  • Hold a career day, where students can learn all about public service jobs.
  • Invite a guest speaker to school, such as a fireman, policeman, serviceman, local politician, or even a fellow teacher to discuss the benefits of getting a job in the public service field.
  • Have students create a public service announcement which highlights the achievements and contributions of local public service workers. Then ask a local radio or television station if they would play it.
  • Honor public servants in your community by asking your class to write a thank you letter.
  • Organize a job shadowing day where children "shadow" someone who is a public servant. This is especially great for older students - they can get hands-on experience and see exactly what a public service career is all about.
  • Encourage students to write an essay describing what kind of public service career they would choose and why.
  • Organize a poster contest where children must create a visual depicting a public servant in their community.

Discussion Questions and Activities

To help raise awareness of public service careers, and teach children about the important roles of public service and how those jobs affects their daily lives, start a discussion by asking the following questions:

  1. How do public employees help the American people? (Answers may be: educate children, keep food safe, manage public parks, improve our health care, protect our environment, help the homeless and poor, protect our nation, build our roads, etc.)

To elaborate on this discussion question, list a few unknown facts on how public employees indeed help the American people. Facts such as:

  • The first person (Neil Armstrong) to set foot on the moon was a public employee.
  • Government employees invented the CAT scan and the plastic cornea.
  • Over two million public servants protect our nation through the armed forces.
  • Public employees administer lifesaving vaccines to children.
  • The Red Cross was founded by a public employee.
  1. What are some ways you can make a difference by becoming a public servant? (Answers may be: Change the laws, help feed the homeless, protect our environment, keep our nation safe, etc.)

To elaborate on this discussion ask, "What makes a good public servant?" And," What are some characteristics of a good public servant?" Discuss with students what they would do to make a difference and list the jobs they think make the most difference in our world.

This year, on June 23, remember to stop and recognize a public servant in your community. Be sure to thank them for all of their hard work and contributions to our nation.

Do you have a great idea or activity to celebrate Public Service Day, or to inspire children to choose a career in the public sector? Share it with us in the comment section below. You never know, you may inspire someone!


Source: Public Service Facts:

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