“Our best connection is you.”
This catchy phrase found at Portland International Airport represents the high level of customer service provided by PDX employees; it also represents the values held by the Port of Portland. Simply put, the Port’s mission is to bring people, products and places together. Whether through one of their four marine terminals, three airports or six industrial parks, the Port of Portland savors community connections.
Programs and events such as Port Pals, Where in the World and the annual Seaport Celebration are just a few of the ways port staff reach out to the community. Answering questions, providing information about the port’s operations and economic impacts, showcasing facilities and attending neighborhood meetings are important pieces of the port’s outreach program.
Port Pals is a partnership with elementary schools in neighborhoods adjacent to port facilities. During the 2011–2012 school year, port staff logged more than 190 volunteer hours with students from Sacramento Elementary School, part of the Parkrose School District. Meeting at least once a month, port staff and their second grade pals connected through school projects, reading together and conversation.
“Nothing benefits children more than the undivided attention of an adult. Many of my students do not have the luxury of this individualized interaction at home. My second-graders have something to look forward to each month—their very own time with an adult who cares about them,” said Chris Sullivan, Sacramento Elementary School second grade teacher.
The one-on-one ratio allows focused time, which helps build the children’s confidence, ability and interest. Port Pals has been a part of the port’s volunteer program since 2007 and has also included James John Elementary in North Portland.
Teaching about Trade
Where is the largest wheat export port in the United States located?
Chances are good that metro-area school children who have listened to the port’s Where in the World presentation know the answer to this question. Where in the World, the cornerstone of the port’s education outreach program, teaches lessons about trade and transportation; port staff taught the lesson to more than 3,000 third, fourth and fifth graders in the Portland metropolitan area last school year alone. Where in the World takes an hour out of the student’s day to discuss some of the different goods that come across the port’s docks on their way to and from local communities.
The students’ and teachers’ favorite part of the lesson is discovering where their shoes and shirts come from and putting this in the context of global trade and transportation. After presenters leave, students and their teachers receive additional materials that help explore the port’s connection to their daily lives. Ever evolving, the port continues to look for ways to increase the number of schools that invite staff to present the Where in the World program.
Incidentally, to answer the question posed above: Portland is the largest wheat export port in the United States.
With nearly 20,000 jobs attributed to the harbor, the working waterfront is a thriving economic engine. The Port’s Terminal 4, home to Toyota Logistics Services, bulk commodities and a flour mill, is no exception.
On August 18, the doors of Terminal 4 will open up to the general public to explore the community connections to the working waterfront. Nearly 100 port employees will volunteer their time to showcase the terminal facility and riverfront. Seaport Celebration attendees will be able to take $5 jetboat rides or a $10 Portland Spirit cruise, listen to live music, eat international foods and visit interactive booths. Activities for children include face painting, trying their hand at welding with a Gunderson employee or grinding their own wheat.
For more information about Seaport Celebration or any of the other Port of Portland community outreach programs, visit www.portofportland.com.