FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Katina Booker and Salvador Cisneros, two students from Diamond Hill-Jarvis High School in Fort Worth, take a bus from their school to the site of their afternoon classes at the Village Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant. Yes, that’s right.
The two are receiving specialized training in the science and technology of treating wastewater, as part of their senior year education.
It’s an education a cash-strapped Fort Worth school district would have no chance to provide on its own.
“Absolutely none,” said Gayla Dawson, the high school’s principal. “This is an opportunity afforded by the city for them to come out and work while in high school and learn real world experiences gaining high school credit but also employment at the waste plant system.”
The experience has been more than educational for Cisneros. “I just looked around and it was like — I didn’t expect what it really was,” he said. “I just thought it was a bunch of water everywhere.”
The students perform real world work like measuring sludge levels in treatment tanks, how the wastewater flows through the system and keeping the system working efficiently.
The plant serves 880,000 people and uses state-of-the-art technologies for efficiency and reuses or recycles 100% of the biosolids it filters.
By the end of the semester the students will be ready to start careers in wastewater treatment. “We know that we’ll have a shrinking labor pool to choose from,” said Mary Gugliuzza, the public education coordinator for the Fort Worth Water Department. “Its very important to put the water industry on the map and in the minds of students when they’re thinking about future careers.”
It’s a career Cisneros will now pursue. “If it wasn’t for these people we wouldn’t have clean water,” he said. “It would just be very dirty.”
Booker is planning on taking her lessons learned at the plant to college. “I’m more prepared,” she said. “Because here I develop communications skills and responsibilities and just real world stuff.”
The program is only in its second year but already a student from the first class is employed at the plant.
Irving and Waco have similar programs.
Click here to learn more about green careers in the water industry.