Innovative Job Training Continues in New Orleans with EPA Grant Support

Left to right, Patrick A. Barnes (BFA/LVI), Barbara Lacen Keller (New Orleans Council-Woman Stacey Head’s office), Marcia St. Martin (Executive Director New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board), Mathy Stanislaus (Assistant Administrator EPA Office of Solid W

At the Sewerage and Water Board East Bank Wastewater Treatment Plant after EPA announces its Job Training Grant recipients.

Quote start“This partnership in the training of water and wastewater operations through Limitless Vistas can help to address the critical need for succession planning as our workforce ages,” St. Martin said.Quote end

New Orleans, Louisiana (PRWEB) July 17, 2012

On June 21, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded a second funding term to Limitless Vistas (LVI), a job training non-profit. The EPA Job Training Grant, worth $200,000 over two years, was also awarded to LVI in 2010. The grant was part of $3 million in federal funds awarded throughout the country to businesses and non-profits who are driving growth in the green jobs sector.

LVI was founded in 2006 by Patrick Barnes, P.G., to add a philanthropic partner to Barnes Ferland & Associates (BFA), the environmental consultation firm he co-founded in 1994. The non-profit provides environmental jobs training for disconnected and at-risk youth. Since its founding, LVI has trained over 270 students aged 17-24 in the New Orleans area.

In the summer of 2010, LVI partnered with the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans and Veolia Water to provide classroom and hands-on job training for at-risk youth in the water and wastewater treatment industries. As Barnes explains, once “the population that stood to benefit most from this kind of training was identified, the natural next move was to find partners willing to open up their operations and help train these young adults. This collaboration and the internship that’s grown out of it have turned a crisis into an opportunity.” The summer internship program that began with 10 students has grown, and is now providing paid training to 10 additional students, according to LVI Executive Director Matilda Tennessee.

At the June 21 announcement of the grant’s extension, New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board Executive Director Marcia St. Martin thanked LVI and Veolia Water for pooling their resources and experience to help at-risk youth. “This partnership in the training of water and wastewater operations through Limitless Vistas can help to address the critical need for succession planning as our workforce ages,” St. Martin said. “It also can prepare our young people to become vital participants in the water and wastewater industry.”

During the four-week program, interns learn the various stages of the wastewater treatment process, how to use a treatment plant's SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system to control operations, and how to analyze plant processes at aeration basins, clarifiers, and belt presses. They are also taught how to properly collect influent and effluent samples, and to measure and interpret water quality parameters such as pH, temperature, turbidity and conductance. Graduates from the internship earn technical certifications and scholarships, and qualify to apply for entry-level positions as they become available.

“The internship has proven to be an effective way to reach out and educate young people who don't usually consider the water and wastewater industry as a possible career path,” Kevin Servat said. Servat is Senior Project Manager for Veolia Water in New Orleans.

Concerning future plans for additional job training programs, Tennessee is optimistic. “The EPA is very eager to incorporate coastal restoration job skills into these kinds of grants, so LVI and its partner BFA will be reaching out to the state of Louisiana and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority to see about the possibility of projects under their jurisdiction,” she said. “Training in those skills would be extremely beneficial for the students we work with, and vital for Louisiana, as well.”

The Sewerage and Water Board, Veolia Water, Limitless Vistas and BFA Partner on Water and Wastewater Treatment Job Training

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.

LVI Interns at New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board Plant

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.
“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.
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”. When asked what type of work she did, she replied, “I mostly shadow the employees, but some of my duties in the laboratory have included observing and recording turbidity readings of influent & effluent water at the Carrolton Water Purification Plant. I have also measured and recorded the pH of the effluent & influent water. I also observed and recorded the loss of head at each filter, the psi for the entire filter gallery and the level of the water in the filter gallery.” “The experience our students gain from hands-on learning and a real-life work situation is invaluable”, added Ms. Tennessee.
Partners Look to the Future
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 S&WB has been in operation since 1899 to handle the unique drainage and water purification needs of the city. The S&WB now treats waste and provides clean water to approximately 497,000 people through two water treatment plants, Algiers and Carrolton, on the East and West banks of the city. The S&WB contracts with Veolia Water to operate the Eastbank and Westbank Wastewater Treatment Plants. Veolia, founded in 1853 and operating in 67 countries, is the leading global operator of water services.
Kevin Servat, the Senior Project Manager at Veolia Water- New Orleans, sees these internships not only as a way to help his community but also ensure the growth of his company, “Certified water and wastewater operators are difficult to find. The water and wastewater workforce is getting older and new younger skilled laborers are needed in the field. Veolia is the world’s leader in the water and wastewater field and strives to give back to the communities that we serve and live in. There is no better way to give back than to invest in the education of the city’s youth.”
Through these internships LVI graduates will build lasting connections with the S&WB and Veolia Water, potentially providing them with long term career choices. We are certain this experience will also serve as a bridge to family sustaining employment opportunities in the environmental industry.
Mr. Barnes is confident that with the help of Veolia Water and S&WB and other municipal, state and federal partners, LVI can expand their program to reach, train and reconnect more youth to opportunities in the environmental industry.
For more information about our partners, you can visit the following websites:
Limitless Vistas, Inc.
Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans
Veolia Water
BFA Environmental
Environmental Protection Agency

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