Sam Reynolds, EPA Region 6 Job Training Grant Project Manager and a key LVI sponsor, said he was “highly encouraged that S&WB and Veolia Water would take such an active interest in reaching out to the LVI Water and Waste Water program.” He added, “it’s critical that industry and other end users of EPA funded programs be at the table and engaged and this partnership accomplishes that.”
The Sewerage and Water Board, Veolia Water, Limitless Vistas and BFA Partner on water and wastewater treatment job training. The students have started Phase II of the training program which will prepare them for entry level jobs in the water and wastewater treatment utility sector. New Orleans, LA August 22, 2011 – Earlier this month at-risk youth from Limitless Vistas (LVI), a job training non-profit, started the second phase of a summer internship program designed to introduce them to real and sustainable entry level job opportunities in the water and wastewater utility sector. This program was designed by LVI and partner BFA Environmental, as a way to help fill the tremendous employment needs in the environmental utility industry as baby boomers enter retirement age. “The effort began over a year ago,” recalls Patrick Barnes, founder of LVI and president of BFA, in a meeting with the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (S&WB). The S&WB through Executive Director Ms. Marcia St. Martin first expressed an interest in assisting LVI by providing training facilities and staff. Their interest quickly expanded into support, culminating in internships for 10 students at Veolia Water North America Operating Services, LLC (Veolia) and S&WB facilities. Limitless Vistas is an organization that was founded in 2006 to train inner city youth for careers in the environmental and green jobs industry. “This program exists for the benefit of our students, not for profit,” said program Director Matilda Tennessee. Students are introduced to the technical aspects of environmental work as well as the value of working in their communities, through service learning. LVI’s training techniques include classroom and hands on application in the following areas; home weatherization, construction, coastal restoration brownfield site assessment and clean up, and since 2010, water and wastewater treatment operations.
This is the only youth program in the New Orleans area that is preparing inner city youth for jobs in the water and wastewater industry.Graduates earn a variety of technical certifications, scholarships and credentials and upon graduation will earn an average starting salary of $12.50/hr. Since its inception LVI has provided job training for over 250 at-risk young people in the New Orleans area. What the Students Feel Calvina McDowell, an LVI participant who is currently working as an intern at the S&WB, has used LVI scholarship money to attend summer classes at Delgado Community College and plans to apply for an internship at the EPA next summer. “The classes we took with Mr. Simon (Geologist and LVI Instructor) helped us be more familiar with the verbiage used in the industry before working at the plants,” she said of the classroom portion of the LVI Program. This summer’s programs started when ten students took a tour of the East Bank water treatment facility operated by Veolia. Subsequently nine were selected for summer internships in the areas of operations, maintenance, wastewater, and administration.
The first phase of observational internships at Veolia was completed in mid July and the students are currently working at the Carrolton and Algiers treatment plants rotating through duties which include taking water samples and testing the water for various chemicals used in the water purification process. “I enjoyed working at Veolia, it was very interesting. You don’t always think about where the water goes when you flush the toilet and now I know,” Ms. McDowell said. Another student, Territa Fleming added, “Interning at Veolia and the S&WB has taught me the importance of hard work and perseverance. Seeing first hand the rewards of hard work and perseverance gives me inspiration to keep moving forward toward my goal of obtaining a post-secondary education and having a successful career”.