Amelia McClure is a wastewater treatment apprentice at the City of Burlington. She’s nearly halfway through her two-year apprenticeship.
Describe your experience so far as a wastewater apprentice.
It has been a great way to make connections and get training. This has been especially important during the pandemic, when other opportunities to expand your career field are limited.
How did you become interested in working in wastewater treatment?
I took a field trip to a wastewater plant as a part of an ecology class during college. I loved it but the rest of my class thought it was gross, so I thought it might be a good way to have a career where I could do something I was interested in while also fulfilling a crucial need of a community.
What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the job?
My favorite part is learning about new ways that the field is expanding. For instance, using wastewater to understand how COVID-19 is impacting our communities, or thinking about how our management of water resources will have to change in response to climate change. My least favorite is dealing with frozen equipment and fingers on cold days in the winter.
Has your work changed during the pandemic?
I help in the lab with processing the samples we collect from our three wastewater plants that get analyzed for the presence of COVID. Also, lots of social distancing and mask wearing.
Do you have any advice for someone who is interested in working in the water resources field?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and try new things. Most people don’t start out thinking this would be their career path, so everyone was new at some point.
Thank you, Amelia, and to all of Vermont’s water and wastewater operators who perform essential services to protect the health and environment of our communities!
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