By Chris Marschinke
The holidays are naturally a time for reflection, and making those resolutions that will almost certainly fizzle out by National Meatball Day (March 9th for the unacquainted). All the same, it’s a healthy practice that puts a brief dent in my annual cookie consumption which is probably a good thing. So with that justification, here are some of my Thanksgiving reflections and New Year’s resolutions.
I’m thankful for the wealth of knowledge that surrounds us in this organization, and the willingness of our members to share so readily. Exchanging ideas and experiences is what makes each of us better operators, engineers, educators, and manufacturers. Over the past decade I’ve learned more, and been exposed to a wider variety of issues than I ever would have had I not been a part of Central States. Between our conference programs, committee seminars, and simply the ‘here’s-what-we-did’ conversations, I’ve become what some may even describe as a “competent” engineer. However, we can always do better. And with that I resolve to further that goal, and I ask for your help. We’ve discussed for several years the Operator Certification requirement on the horizon, and have been in the early stages of compiling a program to that end. Regardless of the regulatory impetus behind it, the program is an excellent idea worthy of our attention that requires dedication to bring it to fruition. For the New Year I ask for your help – Our section is in need of a champion(s) to schedule and handle the logistics of finalizing the program. The section has material for the courses which can be utilized or expanded upon, we just need someone to take the reins (how topical!). If this sounds like something you might be interested in, please contact me or any of the Section officers.
I’m also thankful for the opportunities presented to us by WEF, and specifically the hallmark water-quality conference WEFTEC. By the time you read this we’ll be several months out from the event but hopefully we’re integrating some of the things we learned into our daily professional and personal lives. The 91st annual exhibition was the largest ever in New Orleans with more than 20,000 attendees, and over 1,000 exhibitors across 300,000 square feet of hall space. The conference was, of course, a success by all metrics. But one item that stood out to me this year are the initiatives WEF has introduced to broaden the reach of the organization and engage more participants in its mission.
This year, WEF announced the InFLOW program (Introducing Future Leaders to Opportunities in Water) which strives to identify and engage students from underrepresented minority groups who may be interested in water-industry careers. In its first year, the program sponsored 16 students from Howard University, Tuskegee University, and the University of South Florida providing travel assistances, accommodations, and additional networking opportunities to the participants. The program is modeled after WEF’s Young Professional’s Springboard Program which I had the opportunity to attend this past year in Atlanta. Both programs are examples of member identification and engagement that have each proven very successful at the WEF level. Going into 2019 I resolve to help foster similar outreach efforts for our section to identify new members and engage them in our organization. We have strong member retention within our organization, but have struggled to attract new members from diverse fields. I challenge our section officers to brainstorm opportunities to engage new members – managers engage your operators, consultants engage your manufacturers, YP’s engage your past educators. I’d ask each member to identify and engage one new member to a committee in 2019 – our succession and growth depends on it!
So with that I’ll close on this holiday reflection – I’m thankful for each of you reading this, and even those of you who skipped right to the end. I hope you have a wonderful New Year and look forward to continuing to grow the impact of our organization in 2019 with your help!