This month, I’ve had the pleasure of working with eight Baltimore City residents in an inaugural training program to build successful careers in the “green” stormwater industry. The Clean Water Certificate Training Program launched in Baltimore City, thanks to a partnership between Civic Works and CWP. Funding for the program was provided by The Campbell Foundation, France-Merrick Foundation and Prince Charitable Trusts.
The program, developed by CWP, included classroom learning, hands-on activities and field-based assessments to allow program participants to acquire core skills and knowledge in the construction, maintenance and inspection of green stormwater infrastructure. The three-week program, which ended June 16, was part of a comprehensive three-month workforce development program provided by Civic Works.
Participants were selected through a rigorous application process. They were unemployed or underemployed at the time of enrollment and were selected for their drive, motivation and commitment to pursuing a career in stormwater management.
Not only will this program benefit the environment and the Baltimore City economy, it also will change the futures of these eight individuals. What’s more, they are satisfying a critical need in this industry: Stormwater employers have significant hiring needs for skilled individuals, which they expect to be met through this training program.
We have covered a lot of material — a typical crew on a job site will need to know about all stages of construction, for example, or identification of Best Management Practice (BMP) maintenance needs.
Notwithstanding the extensive technical content, participants learned and retained an impressive amount of knowledge; it was very rewarding to witness their growth and excitement. On the first day of training many of the participants may not have known a great deal about stormwater, but by the last week, they were explaining how BMPs function to capture, store, treat and release stormwater and had successfully built a small-scale bioretention practice.
Participants said the hands-on applied learning approach – using lab activities and field trips –helped them to better understand the concepts being taught in the classroom. They were also eager to share opinions and talk through strategies with their peers, starting on Day One.
All participants successfully completed the Civic Works training, which included the Maryland Department of the Environment responsible personnel certification test for erosion and sediment control.
At the end of the full training, successful program graduates will be placed directly into stormwater positions with opportunities for advancement. I can’t wait to see what they accomplish in Baltimore.
Our goal is to expand the program across the U.S. and build a network of workforce development and training programs. The Clean Water Certificate training model has great potential to translate to other areas of stormwater management.
For more information and to see what stormwater professionals are saying about the program, visit our training page.
Director of Education and Training
Since joining the Center in 2004, Neely’s primary responsibilities include applied research in the areas of stormwater and watershed management. Recent projects include leadership on Chesapeake Bay Program Expert Panels, stream restoration and health, and nutrient reduction credit development. As part of the research and other applied Center projects, Neely provides data synthesis and analyses, monitoring study designs, survey development and writing technical reports and management plans. She has additional experience in public education/teaching, community outreach and land use planning and helping the Center move forward with workforce development certification in the stormwater management field. Neely has a B.S. in Environmental Studies and Urban Planning from the University of Waterloo, an M.A. in Geography from the University of Toronto and a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Neely lives in Leesburg with her husband and three children.