New Plans for the New Year
By Anna Munson
January – a month for making plans for the new year and for reflection on the previous year. It is a month of relative calm after the end-of-year scramble. The cold and snow enhance the quiet and solitude of this time of year. This is one of my favorite months of the year because it feels as if I have a chance to begin anew, adjust things that aren’t working and recognize those that are working well. It feels fresh and hopeful.
I hope our members feel proud when reflecting on what CSWEA accomplished in 2020. When many professional associations went quiet after the onset of the pandemic, CSWEA pivoted and persisted. We upped our webinar game. Beginning in April, CSWEA prepared and hosted more than 20 webinars with topics for engineers, utility managers, operators and planners. In addition, CSWEA put together a virtual Annual Meeting and the MN sections of CSWEA and the Air and Waste Management Association teamed to offer a virtual Conference on the Environment. Our members dedicated countless hours to prepare the content for these events. Our professional community benefited from the information sharing and learning opportunities presented virtually.
Last year presented many CSWEA MN Section members the unique opportunity to collaborate with professionals outside of our state section. Whether organizing webinars, preparing content or actively participating, many of us got to collaborate with our counterparts in the other two states. Some professionals were able to attend training that might have been prohibitively expensive or time consuming in-person. While Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois are similar in many ways, each state has unique challenges. Collaboration among the state sections can build the relationships and knowledge needed to help address the challenges.
We have many things to look forward to in 2021. The COVID-19 vaccine and a return of warmer weather in the spring might help us return to in-person working and social events. Until then, WEF is offering learning opportunities virtually. On January 21st, WEF will host a webinar on utility management in a time of crisis and beyond. Five speakers will address cultural shifts in employee expectations, operations with limited essential staff, workplace stress and skills, and technologies needed to keep a utility operating well. The annual WEF Collection Systems conference is scheduled for March 23 – 25. To ensure this virtual event provides the best experience for attendees, WEF is offering a smaller number of sessions than would be offered at an in-person event. However, the sessions will be curated to provide the most innovative or impactful material in the shortened session time. Peer to peer networking opportunities will also be provided. Looking into the spring, WEF will be presenting the virtual Odors and Air Pollutants conference in April and the virtual Residuals and Biosolids conference in May. So far, the Stormwater Summit is still coming to Minneapolis, set to kick off on June 21 at the Hyatt Regency. CSWEA is sure to be well-represented at the Stormwater Summit.
WEFMAX will be virtual this year, with programming created to help member associations exchange ideas and learn from each other. These sessions are a great way to get involved in planning and leadership in CSWEA and connect with other WEF leaders. The April 8th WEFMAX will provide information on producing great virtual conferences and operator initiatives. Topics for April 22nd will be MA engagement with academic institutions and recruiting and maintaining members. The May 6th WEFMAX will cover operator initiates and recruiting and maintaining members. As Section Chair, I plan to attend the April 8th and 22nd meetings. Please reach out to me if you are interested in joining in. The Minnesota section budgets for sponsoring WEFMAX attendees each year.
CSWEA continues to provide excellent learning opportunities and ways to connect to our industry colleagues. February will be a busy month. Events include:
Seminars and conferences are scheduled in March, April and May as well. The CSWEA website Events page provides information about all upcoming CSWEA and state section events. I encourage you to stay engaged with CSWEA and WEF by joining any of the upcoming events that interest you.
Our section will host another business meeting in February. We hold these meetings to help keep us engaged as a section, to plan activities for the next quarter, set funding priorities and share ideas. This year we have the opportunity to provide additional financial support for scholarships, subcommittee events, outreach activities, and other efforts to attract, support and retain CSWEA members. New ideas are welcome. Please reach out to me with your ideas or, better yet, join our February business meeting. Meeting details will be emailed to our section in a CSWEA email blast and will also be posted on the CSWEA website’s Upcoming Events page.
As you do your own planning for 2021, I hope you reserve some time and energy for participating in at least one of the many CSWEA and WEF events. You’ll certainly learn something new, and there is a very good chance you’ll make some new professional connections. I wish you all a healthy, productive and enjoyable year.