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2017 Rating Yellow
2016 Rating Yellow Performance Key

Parks Division

Volunteer hours

About this measure: Through its volunteer program, King County Parks has an outlet to engage the community, educate park visitors, and provide basic enhancements to the park system and the environment. Our volunteers donate their time and labor to help improve and maintain the diverse lands that make up King County Parks. In addition to the added resources volunteers bring to park projects, people leave with a greater knowledge and appreciation for the King County park system, including trails and natural lands.

2017 target: 60,000 volunteer hours

2017 results: 56,840 volunteer hours

2018 target: 57,000 volunteer hours

Influencing factors: In 2017, over 10,000 volunteers provided more than 56,840 hours. This is lower than anticipated due to various reasons: fewer events were planned by groups that typically partners with us and only one AmeriCorps NCCC group worked with the Volunteer Program this year rather than two.

The volunteers donate their time either by individual project service, by being a member of a group with a contractual partnership with Parks during one of the many volunteer events throughout our park system. In addition, volunteers planted 16,200 native trees and shrubs at and removed 464 cubic yards of invasive and noxious weeds.

Strategy going forward: The Volunteer Program anticipates continued focus on the following to improve their customer service and operations:

The Volunteer Program anticipates focusing on the following to continuously improve their customer service nad operations:

  • increase capacity to host more events and implement service enhancements such as improved communication with volunteers and continued improvement in record keeping.
  • solidify relationships with existing companies and groups that provide volunteers for Parks as well as reaching out to expand those numbers.
  • strengthen and expand the educational component of the volunteer experience to ensure that participants gain a deeper understanding of natural restoration efforts and benefits, as well as learning about the parks system itself.
  • improve communications and opportunities for current Parks and Trails Ambassadors as well as recruit new members.
  • incorporate training from Lean Creative Continuing Improvement (CCI) to improve customer service both to field staff assisting with volunteers, as well as to parks’ volunteers.

Solid Waste Division (SWD)

Number of public contacts made by the Master Composter Recycler (MRC) Program annually

2016 Results: 11,099

2016 Target: 11,664

2017 Target: To be determined Q2 2017: Program may not continue in current form per Q2 contract resulting from RFP 1003-17-LSM: Recycling and Waste Prevention Outreach for English-Speaking and Multicultural Audiences

About This Performance Measure: This measure presents the number of public contacts made each year by volunteers and paid outreach staff trained by the Master Recycler Composter (MRC) program. The volunteers and paid staff receive training about waste reduction, recycling, and solid waste impacts on climate change, with a primary focus on King County's "Compost More. It's Easy to Do" and "Food: Too Good To Waste" campaigns. In return, MRC volunteers work with paid staff to provide program outreach about food waste prevention and curbside and food scrap recycling. Volunteers and staff run information booths and distribute samples of compostable food scrap bags at community events (such as Kent Cornucopia Days) and at farmers markets. In 2016, in addition to staffing community outreach tabling events, new volunteers were encouraged to work on an independent project such as sharing information with coworkers at a lunch presentation or through a workshop with neighbors or friends. The independent project is intended to increase the amount of public contacts made through a Community Based Social Marketing (CBSM) approach. This approach can provide greater encouragement for sustained recycling and waste prevention behavior change compared to larger-scale events such as tabling at community events. Few MRCs used this approach in 2016.

Influencing Factors: The number of public contacts made depends on the number of volunteers and paid staff available to provide outreach, the size and number of events staffed and the number of visitors attending the event. The 2016 target was set to match 2015 results as the 2016 program budget was similar to the 2015 budget. Seattle Tilth recruited and trained ten new Master Recycler Composter volunteers who, with the help of two Seattle Tilth staff members and three volunteers from previous cohorts, shared key campaign messages and distributed outreach materials to King County residents. MRCs concentrated on events that would reach the greatest number of people.

Strategy Going Forward: The MRC program may or may not continue in 2017. Due to low numbers of volunteers participating in the training over the past few years, and few volunteer hours returned after each volunteer's commitment of 25 hours was met, paid consultant staff have had to provide public outreach in order to fulfill the Division's outreach needs. As an alternative to the MRC volunteer program, the county is looking to optimize its face-to-face outreach efforts through different cost-effective approaches. An RFP has been released to solicit consulting services for this purpose. In Q2 2017, the division anticipates that a contract will result in response to the RFP. A decision will be made at that time whether to continue the MRC volunteer program in its current form or to implement another strategy for outreach, for example via workshops to community groups. Outreach through the new contract will continue to focus on the "Compost More. Waste Less." and "Food: Too Good To Waste" campaigns and the number of public contacts made as a performance measure.

In 2016, the volunteers and paid staff will receive training with a primary focus on King County's "Compost More. Waste Less." and "Food: Too Good To Waste" campaigns. In return, MRC volunteers work with paid staff to provide program outreach about food waste prevention and curbside and food scrap recycling.


Contacts made while staffing tables at community events or farmers markets are counted by staff and volunteers with the use of hand tally counters. Contacts made through CBSM outreach will be estimated by MRC volunteers tracking the number of contacts made through their community outreach efforts. The 2016 target is based on two calculations: 1) The number of public contacts made at community events based on 2015 results (11,414); and 2) the number of contacts anticipated through CBSM outreach (the estimated number of contacts that will be made each hour (5) multiplied by the required CBSM volunteer hours (5) multiplied by an estimated 10 new volunteers = 250). Thus, the 2016 target is 11,414 + 250 = 11,664 contacts.


Water and Land Resources Division (WLRD)

Salmon watcher program

Salmon Watcher was a multi-jurisdictional effort focused at protecting Salmon, a “Pacific Northwest treasure”, and educating the community in the process. The Salmon Watcher Program was a volunteer effort that originated in 1996 and ran 20 years, concluding with the 2015 salmon spawning season.

Volunteers watched streams for spawning salmon in King and Snohomish Counties. This effort mainly focuses on waters within Water Resource Inventory Area 8 (WRIA8), which includes the Lake Washington Watershed and some streams leading to Puget Sound.

Regional agencies who participated in the Salmon Watcher Program along with King County during the 2015 season included the cities of Bellevue, Bothell, Kirkland, Issaquah, Redmond, Renton, and Seattle.

2015 target:
Over 100 sites on at least 35 stream reaches to be monitored.

2015 results:
Target partially achieved

Result details: In 2015, about 63 people attended a training session, and of those, 38 were new to the Salmon Watcher Program. Volunteers conducted surveys between August 2015 and January 2016. Volunteers counted all live and dead adult salmonids they observed. Over 1,500 streamside site visits were made. From the submitted data , a total of 90 sites on 36 streams were surveyed by 80 volunteer "units" (about 87 people). These volunteers spent over 444hours streamside and reported talking with 639 citizens at their stream sites.

Influencing factors: The Salmon Watcher program was voluntary. New individuals would enter the program by request or their interest. Budget allocations and proactive recruitment of watchers could influence the location and number of monitoring locations.

Training participants were encouraged to attend a training to learn about salmon conservation issues even if they did not turn in data. Furthermore, online data entry became mandatory in 2013, and some volunteers who watched at a stream site failed to turn in their data electronically.

Visit the website for Salmon Watcher annual reports.

Strategy Going Forward: The Salmon Watcher program has come to an end after 20 years. Other volunteer monitoring opportunities will be explored with interested parties and stakeholders.