Positive Community Connections for Treatment Plants via Youth Apprenticeship Programs
[Presentation PDF]

IEPA ID#: n/a - not worth renewal training credit for water operators
Room: C130
Time: 8:30 - 9:00am
Presenter: Scott Thompson & Jenny Pagel, NEW Water

Moderator: Mike Hughes

SUMMARY: This paper will describe various Youth Apprenticeship Programs, and provide a special case history of one treatment plant that has enjoyed immediate benefits of connecting with such a program.

A unique partnership between a Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility, an area Chamber of Commerce and local school districts has opened the door for bold learning opportunities for high school students in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Green Bay Metropolitan Sewerage District (GBMSD) took advantage of the existing Youth Apprenticeship Program administered by the Green Bay Chamber of Commerce to launch its own Treatment Plant Operator Apprenticeship Program. While area students have enjoyed similar programs in fields such as automotive repair, welding, CAD and nursing, there hasn’t been an option for those interested in Environmental Engineering. The new GBMSD pilot program provides such an option with its first-year program which will serve as a model for the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development to adopt and promote state-wide. The GBMSD Youth Apprenticeship Program works with the local school districts to offer flexible scheduling which allows 10 -15 hr/ week of on-the-job work experience. In addition to the hands-on learning, the local technical school (Northeast Wisconsin Technical College-NWTC) provides limited enrollment in their two-year Wastewater Engineering Degree Program. This busy week of scheduling provides a nice mix of book theory which is reinforced by exposure to real-world applications during the 10 hours at the treatment plant. Topping it all off is an incentive by the school district to pay for the college course expenses, and GBMSD pays a modest hourly wage to the worker. It’s great to help interested students get a boost into the profession by offering this program. But it’s a deal also for the participating host facility. Over the two years that these high school students are with us, they will become quite familiar with the work skills, people and culture. And we’ll get to know them. An opportunity to get an eager, inquisitive young worker supporting the day-to-day operation for minimum wage should be attractive to any organization. While there are no promises made towards future full-time employment, but it would be foolish not to consider these students after they complete the necessary schooling. There’s also the hidden benefit of positive public relations when a community treatment plant connects deeply with the community it serves.

Scott Thompson, NEW Water
Scott Thompson is a Trainer with the Operations Division at NEW Water. He jumped into the wastewater field after graduating from high school in 1975. Somewhere along the way he stepped out of the profession for ten years while earning a degree in Elementary Education. After five years of teaching third graders in his own Green Bay Public School classroom, he returned once again to the wastewater industry.





Jenny Page, NEW Water
Jenny Pagel is a plant operator with NEW Water in Green Bay Wisconsin. She has been a wastewater operator since 2002 and has been with NEW Water for the last year. Jenny earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.