Wichita State University’s Environmental Finance Center will help create WaterCorps, a project to connect students to applied learning opportunities in the water workforce.
Wichita State is one of 10 organizations selected to receive part of a $3.8 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The new program will help build the water workforce by connecting individuals to internships in the drinking water and wastewater utility sectors and expanding public awareness about the benefits of careers providing vital water services.
The Environmental Finance Centers at the University of New Mexico and Syracuse University will join WSU on the project.
Wichita State’s project description states that funding will be used for WaterCorps, a nationwide network of high school and post-secondary students along with school counselors and water utility professionals, who will connect the students to water utility internship experiences, educational resources, guidance from field experts, and facility tours. Students participating in the WaterCorps program will have the added support of a peer network, providing enhanced learning, shared experiences and broad engagement with water professionals.
“We hope to recruit WaterCorps members from geographically diverse and tribal communities so that the students are able to learn from peers and professionals from a wide variety of community water systems across the United States. As the WaterCorps members share experiences with others beyond their own community they will build a strong connection to the water industry,” said Tonya Bronleewe, director of WSU Environmental Finance Center. “We will share our methods, resources, educational materials, and toolkits in the Environment-Focused Learning Academy online portal. We want what we develop through this project to be available to any school, utility, organization or individual who has an interest in helping young people to find their careers in water.”
The water industry is facing widespread shortages of qualified workers, due to expected retirements, new investments in the nation’s physical infrastructure, and new technical and scientific skill sets required to operate and maintain these systems. These grants will expand public awareness about job opportunities in the drinking water and wastewater utility sector and will address the workforce needs of drinking water and wastewater utilities.
About WSU Environmental Finance Center
Across the country, the costs of environmental services, programs, and infrastructure continue to rise. At the same time, the individuals, communities, and governments tasked with paying for environmental protection are experiencing significant financial burdens. The WSU Environmental Finance Center helps solve the issue of how to pay for environmental protection.