As the world is facing clean water limitations and surface water scarcity due to population growth, climate change, and non-sustainable use of water, transformational leadership has become a necessity to solve these worldwide problems. As part of the WEF Water Leadership Institute’s (WLI) 2020 cohort, we were able to learn some of those skills, as well as develop a Community Outreach Webcast Series as part of our final project.

According to the Brookings Institution there were 1.7 million people in the US water industry in 2016. However, most people don’t give much thought to things like where their water comes from, where their waste goes, or how flooding is controlled. When asked what they want to be when they grow up, many children probably won’t respond with an answer that relates to an occupation within the water sector. Our cohort acknowledged this invisibility issue when we collectively identified a lack of public awareness as a top challenge facing the water industry.

In support of this year’s WLI theme, “Public Awareness: Meeting the Needs of the Water Workforce-- Today AND Tomorrow,” the cohort was split into teams to focus on five topics within the sector. For each topic, we developed two Outreach Activity Guides targeted at two different age groups for people to use in their own communities. We are hosting a five-part webcast series to explain how to use the activities we developed and the need for community outreach in these five areas:

• Aging Infrastructure: The Danger Brewing Right Under our Feet
• Going with the Flow: A Lifelong Journey of Water Education
• Maintaining the Ripple Effect
• The Future is Now
• One Water: Our Water, Your Water

Please register for this webcast series to learn about challenges and solutions of public awareness and community outreach. Each webcast incorporates outreach activities for audiences spanning elementary school students to adults. These outreach activities can be used in classrooms and community events (virtual or otherwise) to educate the public, motivate change agents, and to spark interest in the next generation of water professionals.


Sign up here: www.wef.org/OutreachSeries

About the Authors

Bashar Al-Daomi, Alma Beciragic, Rebecca Erickson, Felicia Glapion, and Sabrina Parker are members of WEF's 2020 Water Leadership Institute cohort.

 

Bashar Al-DaomiBashar Al-Daomi is a process engineer at Brown and Caldwell. He is pursuing a doctorate and has been working as a researcher, graduate teaching assistant, mentor and mentor leader for 62 graduate mentees from 20 countries. He grew up in Iraq and relocated to the US in June 2013.

 

 

Alma BeciragicDr. Alma Beciragic was born in Zagreb, Croatia and came to the United States as a refugee in 1994. She earned a bachelor's degree in environmental science, and has a doctoral degree in environmental sciences and engineering from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Her research explored questions relating to reverse osmosis and nanofiltration membrane leachates and byproduct formations as a result of membrane-disinfectant interactions. 

 

Rebecca EricksonRebecca Erickson received her bachelor and master's degrees in environmental engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. She has been working at the South Platte Renew water resource recovery facility as an engineer for two and a half years. Becca has been involved in managing a number of projects, including optimizing polymer at dewatering and DAFTs, dewatering facility improvements, and other process optimization work. Becca is a Colorado C certified plant operator and is an active member in the Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association, holding positions on multiple committees including Water For People, the Innovative Water Technology Committee, and the Young Professionals Committee.

 

Felicia GlapionFelicia Glapion is a licensed professional engineer who has worked in the water industry for more than 17 years. She started out as an undergraduate research assistant, grew into a senior project manager in the private sector, and is now managing the Engineering and Planning Department at a public wastewater utility.

 

 

Sabrina Parker has worked for the City of Olathe, Kansas for seven years, first as a project manager and is now a water and sewer manager. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.

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