The current onsite wastewater sector has a dynamic community of highly experienced professionals, however, there is a lack of new talent entering the industry. The role young professionals have on the onsite wastewater field cannot be overstated. Young professionals bring a unique energy and are filled with innovative ideas, fresh perspectives, and technological prowess that aid organizations in keeping pace with new emerging trends. One reason for the deficit in incoming talent is the lack of visibility on the onsite wastewater treatment field, particularly in traditional civil and environmental engineering undergraduate programs across colleges and universities. These programs focus entirely on centralized systems, with only a limited number offering courses on decentralized treatment. Given that many students make their career decision during their college years, it is unfortunate that many of them are unaware of the career trajectories associated with the onsite sector. A group of NOWRA members recognized this limitation of connecting with young talent at a critical stage in their education. In 2021, the Emerging Professionals Committee was formed to help in engaging and recruiting early career professionals to the onsite wastewater industry.
Emerging Professionals Committee (EPC)
The Committee is dedicated to workforce development, recruitment, and advocacy on behalf of young and early career professionals in the onsite wastewater treatment sector. In terms of workforce development, we want to see young professionals mentored by NOWRA’s well-seasoned professionals. We also want to see resources routed towards young onsite professionals as they pursue their own entrepreneurial, leadership, and educational endeavors. Our hope is to get more young and early career professionals interested in the industry. A big part of that recruitment initiative is getting the onsite sector in front of students as they are making critical career decisions. Lastly, in terms of advocacy, it is important to voice the needs and opinions of emerging professionals to NOWRA leadership to ensure that their needs are being met and that resources are being allocated towards this important part of our membership.
• Educational Scholarships
The NOWRA Educational Scholarships are intended to support the professional development of young and early career professionals in the onsite wastewater industry. Two outstanding candidates will be selected based on their career aspirations and commitment to the onsite wastewater sector and will be awarded $2,000 to be used towards educational expenses. Additional scholarship opportunities are also offered by our affiliate members and partner organizations.
During the 2022 Onsite Wastewater Mega-Conference, the EPC hosted both an oral and a poster competition to encourage more young member participation at the conference. 15 young professionals across a wide range of backgrounds engaged in these competitions. For the oral presentation competition, young professionals volunteered to give presentations at sessions throughout the conference while a judging panel, comprised of industry professionals, scored the presentations. All the presentations in the competition from these young professionals were incredible to watch and learn from. Click here to see winners from the 2022 Mega Conference.