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2019 WEFTEC: One YP’s Experience

Each year, the Pacific Northwest Clean Water Association (PNCWA) offers scholarships to Student and Young Professional (S&YP) committee members to attend the national Water and Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC). As the lucky recipient of one of this year’s two scholarships, I had the opportunity to join over 20,000 water professionals gathering in Chicago for the 92nd WEFTEC, the largest annual water quality exhibition in the world.

The conference kicked off with an opening session featuring keynote speaker Dr. Lera Boroditsky, an Associate Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of California-San Diego. Dr. Boroditsky spoke about how language plays a critical role in influencing our perception of the world, including the development and reinforcement of personal biases. She connected this power of language to the importance of understanding how to use communication in developing a diverse and inclusive workforce in the water industry. Dr. Boroditsky’s message was echoed in the remarks of (past) WEF president Tom Kunetz who emphasized the power of building an inclusive and diverse workforce in the world of water and wastewater.

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Inaugural PNCWA InFLOW Cohort Makes Waves at PNCWA2019

PNCWA celebrated a special milestone at the 2019 conference: the InFLOW cohort attended for the first time.  InFLOW is a scholarship program developed by WEF that invites students from underserved minority groups to attend WEFTEC for free. The PNCWA InFLOW effort was spearheaded by Member Services Chair, Brittany Burch, with support from several other members of PNCWA leadership including Steven Drangsholt, Kristi Steiner, Dick Finger, and Brittany Park. Brittany Burch was inspired by the stories and successes already coming from WEF’s InFLOW program and wanted to create the same opportunity for PNCWA students.

“People who work in water are passionate. It shows in our work, on our faces, and in our interactions. Many of us attend conferences to be inspired, and sharing this inspiration with the InFLOW group is so critical to the long term success of the program. The support from our PNCWA members made that part easy,” said Burch. By creating a regional program, PNCWA has opened up opportunities for students in the Pacific Northwest who may not have had exposure to the water sector before. PNCWA InFLOW helps pique students’ interest in the water sector and sets students up with networking opportunities to increase their potential for employment and long-term success.

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PNCWA 2019: In Their Own Words, PNCWA Board Member, Tony Benavidez

It’s that time of year again — the time when we start planning next year’s conference. But Tony, you say, PNCWA 2019 was just a few weeks ago? It can be hard to keep up the excitement after such an incredible time together, networking with so many dedicated water professionals. Post-conference feels like the time of year we tend to put the cruise control on and coast to the end of the year. Here are some things that I learned through the connections I made at conference and also some of my plans for the coming year to stay motivated. I might even help you keep the energy all the way to PNCWA 2020 in Spokane.

This year’s conference for me was amazing. I saw so many new faces and spoke with a number of both first-time attendees and long-time attendees. There were several commonalities amongst our conversations. First, we are a passionate group of people. We love water and the environment, and we're doing all that we can to improve water quality for as many people as we can reach. Our reach extends far beyond the Pacific Northwest, and we are very proud of that. Second, we have the desire to be a part of something. It might be something local and important to specific communities, or it might be something big. I mean really big—like cleaning up Puget Sound big! The third takeaway was how much talent and knowledge we have. We all bring something to the table that is of value. We have brilliant design engineers, accomplished PhDs, inspired city officials, skilled operators, and many others. 

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Have You Found Your Ikigai?

 

What’s your reason for getting up in the morning?

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